Imbalance of Performance leaves team’s Ferrari neutralized
September 22, 2014 (Austin, Tex.) – Entering the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship’s Lone Star LeMans at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, AIM Autosport drivers Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell were hoping to reestablish themselves at the head of the GT-Daytona driver championship.
It would be a tall order. Tied for the lead with three other drivers, the Ferrari 458 Italia was given a Balance of Performance adjustment before the race in which it received an additional 150rpms but also gained 10 additional kilograms of weight. However, the team was hopeful that the weight penalty would be negated by the additional straight line speed.
Ultimately, it would be a frustrating weekend for Sweedler and Bell. Qualifying in 15th position, it was apparent that the performance deficit to the other marques in the GT-D class had widened even further. Taking the wheel of the no. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia for the opening stint of Saturday’s race, Sweedler was able to advance to 11th position before handing the car over to Bell. Through strategy and attrition, Bell was able to move to up eighth position by the checkered flag.
However, finishing in eighth enabled their main championship rivals to take the lead and establish a gap with only one race remaining in the season. Sweedler and Bell now sit unofficially at 268 points, seven points out of the championship lead.
“We knew that the only way we were going to have a good finish was with a lot of luck, and it just didn’t come for us today,” said Sweedler. “The team prepared a flawless race car and everybody executed to a very high level but despite making no mistakes, we just didn’t have the pace to race with the other manufacturers. We will keep fighting and keep digging and we will do everything we can to bring home a championship at Petit LeMans.”
It was a difficult day at Circuit of The Americas for Bell, but is already looking ahead to the season finale at Petit LeMans.
“After the way qualifying went, I had an idea that it might be a very long day for us,” said Bell. “I had a very big battle during my stint with one of the Audis, but with all the weight we have in the car we were really struggling with tire life and I couldn’t keep him behind me. We are hoping for some kind of change before Petit LeMans, but one way or another we will go there and give our best effort. The long races have suited us well this year so maybe we can make some good out of the situation at Road Atlanta.”
Team engineer Ian Willis hopes that the 10 hour / 1000 mile Petit Le Mans will offer the team a chance to regain some of its lost ground in its bid for a championship.
“Unfortunately, the BoP change prior to this weekend has had a big effect on the championship,” said Willis. “Bill and Townsend drove great races today and our crew guys put in an amazing job as well. The long races are what we are best at, and we still have ten hours of racing to go so we are putting our hopes onto a really strong race at Road Atlanta.”
Petit LeMans, the last race of the 2014 TUDOR Championship, will be held October 1-4 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.