KANSAS CITY, KS – With a dominant race car on good tires and enough fuel to reach the end, two elements not always at a driver’s disposal in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Scott Maxwell looked destined to earn Aston Martin its first win with just a handful of laps to go on the new Kansas road course configuration. Running a comfortable third in a car with plenty of speed in reserve, Maxwell was patiently waiting for the opportunity to make the requisite passes on the obviously struggling Stevenson Camaro and Rum Bum Porsche when the #55 Aston Martin Vantage lost throttle control and coasted to the apron of the banked oval.
Jade Buford had started the car from the pole for a record sixth time this season and he and Maxwell were never in doubt of taking the top spot on the podium until the unlucky failure. Although both of the sister cars also showed a great turn of speed and were extremely competitive on occasion, circumstances caused both to finish down the order, the #71 in P9 after Kasemets suffered a late race self-inflicted engine issue and the #15 in P29 suffering from a broken mass air flow sensor caused by heavy contact with another car early in the race.
Unlike the other caution dominated CTSCC events of the 2013 season, the first half of the Kansas race ran with no sign of a yellow flag, a complete reverse of the week before at Road America where the second half unexpectedly stayed green causing the outcome to be decided by fuel conservation. Other than a brief period where the extremely quick #14 Doran Nissan led the field during the early stages, Buford was in control of the race until he was brought in for fuel and right side tires under green at lap 34 dropping him to P6 while the rest of the field sorted itself out.
A perfectly timed yellow then cycled the young Multimatic star back to the front and he easily led until another crash at just over half distance brought the entire field into the lane for fuel, albeit five or six laps shy of being able to get to the end under green. The previously filled fuel cell combined with only taking left side tires made for a record breaking eighteen second stop by the crack Multimatic squad but a small glitch on the driver change cost a few critical seconds that dropped the #55 car from P1 to P10 in the lane – once again illustrating the competitiveness of every aspect of the CTSCC.
But the small error by the drivers was quickly rectified by the one behind the wheel and Maxwell made five surgically precise passes in as many laps and then, with the off-strategy stragglers making their stops under a late yellow that put everybody into their finishing window, found himself in perfect position to pick-off the guys in front of him; John Edwards in the #9 Camaro and Matt Plumb in the #13 Porsche. With at least a half a second per lap in hand to those two championship competitors, Maxwell lined-up the Porsche for the kill only to lose throttle control and his temper along with that of Team Manager, Larry Holt. Highlights of the weekend were as follows:
• Despite none of the Multimatic drivers being fond of the fiddly infield section of the Kansas Speedway road course configuration, the Grand-Am weekend being its inaugural event, there were no major dramas with the cars and Multimatic Motorsports was always at the top or second on the practice timesheets. Jade Buford did what has become habit and put the #55 on the pole, but this time waited until the very last lap of qualifying as Bryan Heitkotter in the #14 Nissan was the only car to break into the 1:20’s up until that last lap, and initially gapped the #55 by a massive 0.4 seconds.
Buford stepped it up mid-session and shaved 0.2 off the margin to a 1:21 flat, a solid 0.4 seconds clear of the Rum Bum Porsche in third. A slow lap to cool the tires and line up for a tow from the #01 Camaro of Aschenbach left a mere 15 second margin to put in a final effort and as the #55 came round to take the checkered flag the timing screen swapped the top two cars with Buford grabbing a record sixth fastest time by five one hundredths of a second! Exciting stuff for all but the #15 which broke a power steering pump shaft on the way to the pit lane at the beginning of the session, dictating that Nick Mancuso start the Aston, that had finished P2 at Road America, from the back.
• As Buford fought off the angry mob through the first lap, Nick Mancuso put on an outstanding display of driving and took the #15 from P19 to P9, making some extremely impressive passes in the process. Within a few laps he was running bumper to bumper with the #71 of Marsal, both cars looking very strong and top five competitive. Unfortunately contact between Mancuso and the #01 Camaro resulted in the Aston being assessed a sixty second penalty and sustaining considerable front end damage and a broken mass airflow sensor which resulted in the engine running extremely roughly. A few laps later a small mistake by Marsal ended in Mancuso collecting his teammate which set both cars back to a point from which they would never fully recover. Kasemets took over the #71 and came back to a top six position but a downshift overrev put the car into limp-home mode on the very same lap that Maxwell suffered the throttle failure. He kept it together to salvage a P9 finish, the best of the Multimatic cars.
Multimatic Motorsports Team Principal, Larry Holt, commented: “That one was ours. I could taste it, Maxwell could taste it and it was clear from our pace that the Aston was going to have its day. Brian Jones hit the set-up perfectly and the way the boys ran the stops assured that Scotty had very good tires under him going into that last run to the finish. You could physically see the speed we had over the other guys. Talk about frustrating, the fly-by-wire throttle just shut down with no warning or previous issue on that car. We saw it on the #15 at Watkins Glen but at this point no root cause has been found – just the old replace stuff until it works approach. Not very scientific or effective but this type of malfunction is out of our hands as a team – we have to rely on others. This failure cost us any hope of a championship run, we came into the weekend third and I won’t even check the table now, it’s too depressing. All we can do now is try for a win at Laguna or Lime Rock. The cars have proven to be fast but having six pole positions without a win isn’t a good record.”
The tenth race of the season takes place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca September 7th-8th in Monterey, California.
From www.multimaticmotorsports.com // Multimatic Motorsports