With the car fixed, the team's spirit was naturally lifted. Being back in 47th was going to make it difficult to win, but there was always the hope for rain. The car was taken up to grid for the race and there was a surprise. TC Kline had given up his ride to Boris Said, which forced Boris to start at the back of the grid next to Paul due to the driver change. This meant that Paul and Boris could work together to make a run to the front. At the worst case it would mean great television coverage.
The cars were set to go on grid, the team hoping for one of those great quattro starts. Paul side stepped the clutch and as the first to rows of cars disappeared he shot up the middle. The gap quickly closed up in front of Paul. He had to back out of the middle and then work his way back around the next row of cars. Boris and Paul went through turn 1 side by side. The first lap was spent in constant side by side action attempting to work their way up through the field.
By the second lap things were beginning to spread out. The front runners were in single file, and so was most of the mid pack until they bunched up again in the entrance of turn 5. Paul came out of turn 4 and got the preferred line heading into turn 5 (the inside). At the entrance of turn 6 John Bosch in his BMW tried to make it 3 wide on the inside of the entrance to turn 6 (the tightest turn on the track). Paul noticed the car attempting this inside run and was able to take evasive action. Bosch launched off of the inside curbing and was airborne. At that point Paul was looking at the underside of the BMW in the mirror as he headed off track to avoid being broad sided. While the car avoided major damage from the BMW, in going off track there was damage againn to the front end. The ground was very soft and semi-flooded which prompted Paul to keep his foot on the gas and take advantage of the quattro system to launch through the mud. Rooster tails of water and mud sprayed from the back of the Audi and onto the track and other cars as Paul made his way back onto the track.
As a result of the incident the splitter and front bumper were destroyed. The splitter was left hanging on by a bolt head and washer. Although it was scraping against the left front tire under braking (causing some vibration) it would survive through the rest of the race. SCCA was looking at bringing the car in to have the damage area removed but the team pleaded with them to allow the car to continue since the splitter was still attached and not dragging. In the end Paul finished 27th. The team had hoped for a higher finish, but were happy with only having to repair the front bumper and splitter rather than major body repair for the next race at Lime Rock.
All and all it was a wonderful opening weekend for the STaSIS team. While all of the expectations for the weekend weren't met, the car left in the trailer in one piece for Limerock. The team members had worked well together in both preparation and execution as well as acquiring more information about the car which could be applied to future races.
The next televised race will be June 8th at 8:00 PM EST. For the full televised schedule click here.
The full Speed World Challenge schedule is available by clicking here.
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