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GENTILOZZI: A Team Victory

3GT Racing partner and technical director John Gentilozzi files his first Sportscar365 column…

Photo: 3GT Racing

Don’t mess this up. I was told this more than once. It came from various sources. Fans, IMSA officials, anyone you can imagine had an opinion about how we could lose last weekend’s WeatherTech Championship race at Mid-Ohio.

Internally, we had the same discussion at a more detailed level. Misplaced yellow flags, performance from other cars beyond what we saw in prior sessions. We thought we had prepared for all of it.

In the end, we won. In the end, we outlasted a massive charge from Alvaro Parente to take the first U.S. victory for 3GT Racing and Lexus.

It’s a fair question to ask what happened to a lead that looked insurmountable at the start of the race.

Our core assumptions about how the race would progress, our bedrock for managing the race, was incorrect. As simple as that. We underestimated the pace of our competitors, especially on cold tires, and we overestimated the tire fall off over long stints.

The glow of our first victory, and the pride that we felt in watching David Heinemeier Hansson survive the best punch from the best Gold rated drivers in the series was admittedly short-lived.

We came back to work Tuesday morning and were buried in the data by the time most people have their coffee. We attacked our assumptions and replayed every move we made over that 2 hour and 40-minute period in the central Ohio sun.

We will move forward to the next event, as the constant beat of the motorsports drum requires. Armed with more information and experience than we had before. Richer by one trophy, but more battle hardened.

This is what we have done since Daytona in 2017. Certainly, we took at least one victory off the table in 2017 and that changes your program in ways that you don’t anticipate, but you keep working.

Kyle Marcelli and Dominik Baumann, both drove excellent races – each in a different way.

Kyle by laying down 38 monster laps in the opening stint. His focus and pace in the first hour is something that will stand out to me for a long time.

As well, the drive that Dominik was able to deliver in the face of aggressive GTLM traffic and a huge charge from the Acura, deserves high praise.

Not present on the podium but equally deserving of a trophy is Jack Hawksworth. Without Jack on our team and without his contribution to the engineering direction of the car this victory never happens.

Like all good drivers he never stopped trying to improve himself and in turn that drives us. When you see that level of commitment, it makes you want to work harder.

For us, this team, Mid-Ohio was a huge victory. It felt good to see the 14 car cross the line first. It felt good to see guys that I have known since I was a little kid feel the joy of a victory.

But, here we are back to work.

Acutely aware that we still have a championship to fight for, and that only one of our two cars has tasted victory. This is one data point in a long line that ends at Road Atlanta in October.

I will let the warmth of victory that feeds a racer’s soul sustain me for longer than it should, dipping into its bounty when things inevitably get tough.

But after that it’s back to work. Back to working with a great group of mechanics, drivers, and engineers on getting to the top step of the podium again.

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