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HINDMAN: Lime Rock Debrief

Trent Hindman files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

From the time that I arrived at Lime Rock Park, to the time that I headed home, I believe the total trip was just under 48 hours.

Forty-eight hours to set up, conduct a track walk, have two 45-minute practice sessions, qualify, race, and tear down.

Phenomenal levels of effort are required by all team members at all times during those two days to make sure that everything is perfect because Lime Rock allows absolutely zero time for errors on and off track.

Unfortunately for us at Bodymotion Racing, the weekend got off to a not so great start as we had a left front lower control arm failure within our first laps of the opening practice session.

The car was driveable but it was tough and definitely not a scenario where we were going to learn anything if we left it alone and kept running.

Actually I believe the call to bring the car back to the paddock for a proper repair was really the only decision that could be made, as Lime Rock is very high speed, with six longer duration, very high lateral loading corners that rely on the left side of the car for support.

If that lower control arm were to completely let go in, let’s say, the Uphill, West Bend, or the Downhill, it would have been the end of our weekend. Certainly not ideal, especially since Cam was not able to get in the car for any laps whatsoever, but it was the hand we were dealt and we would push on and do the best we could.

Luckily Practice 2 was much more positive for us and we had the opportunity to not only log laps but also make some very effective changes to our Porsche Cayman GT4.

The big question within our team was strategy for the race. The idea of me qualifying and starting the car while having Cameron run the closing stint was thrown around a bit before we had even arrived at the track but we really did not know that would be the strategy we would ultimately run.

With so little time between practices one and two, then the pressure of qualifying rapidly approaching in the afternoon, there was no time to debate.

We had our data and facts from previous Continental Tire Challenge races at Lime Rock and the only way we figured that we were leaving the “bull ring” with the championship lead was to have me qualify and start. The pressure was truly on.

Having not qualified and started a Continental Tire Challenge race in over two years, I certainly had my reservations but having no time to think twice, I was all in.

The instruction was to get it done in under eight laps, but luckily on lap three we found some room, and lap four we nailed a 55.388 which gave us pole position by just over four tenths of a second; a testament to how hard the Bodymotion crew had worked to make the car right following the morning’s problems.

The next step in this equation was making sure than Cameron was 100 percent comfortable and ready to attack the closing stint.

With a lack of seat time on Friday along with having never closed a Continental Tire Challenge race before, he was in a new realm, but one that we believed he would perform flawlessly in.

After a long and hectic day at the track on Friday, with the relief of how well it had ended, we finally found ourselves on the grid Saturday morning, waiting for the command to climb in the car.

Again, this is where that lack of track time really had us scratching our heads since we knew we had a great car over a single lap, but for an entire stint around Lime Rock Park? Whole different story.

Luckily we were able to grab the lead at the start and began building a gap. Not even eight laps into the race and we were already encountering lap traffic which did not affect us too much, but what did was the three major incidents that had occurred right in front of us, all within a five to six lap span. That totally killed our gap along with a full course caution that came roughly 30 minutes into the race.

We chose to stay out, maintain our track position, and try to extend our fuel mileage for as long as we could, while many of our closest competitors decided to take full service.

I believe this is the moment that really made this strategy work for us, as we were able to hold the lead for another 10 minutes following the restart then watched as the 57 caught us and pulled away.

That’s what a sticker set of Continentals will do for you. That alone did not change our strategy at all as it was still my job to save fuel and maintain track position, which luckily we did.

With 52 minutes remaining in the race, we made our one-and-only pit stop, Cam hopped in the car, and had the green light to push to the end.

The guy genuinely drove the race of his life and was running 5th, right in the fight for the final step on the podium but just barely missed out.

Ending that quick 48-hour period with a pole position, fastest race lap, and a solid 5th place finish means that Cameron and I extend our GS championship lead from three to five points.

Doesn’t sound like much, but in a series as competitive and unpredictable as the CTSC, every single point matters.

I’m thankful that all had worked out for the Trim Tex/Bodymotion Racing team following the difficulties at the very start of the weekend, but the perseverance by all brought us a great result considering how things had gone for us at CTMP.

Ain’t no rest for the wicked now as we will have a short turn around and find ourselves in Elkhart Lake, Wis. in under ten days time. Stay tuned…

Trent Hindman (@TrentHindman) is the 2019 IMSA GT Daytona class champion, driving for Racers Edge Motorsports in GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, Meyer Shank Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Archangel Motorsports in Michelin Pilot Challenge.

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