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24H Series

PREWITT: Barcelona Debrief

Hal Prewitt files his latest Sportscar365 column after 24H Barcelona…

Photo: NoSpeedLimits.nl

Photo: NoSpeedLimits.nl

Barcelona. In this city, it’s all about the astounding architecture and great food. One of the best places on our planet. Racing comes second.

Place it on your bucket list. Bring your spouse or partner and gain lots of points. The tapas are outrageously good. Circuit Catalunya is a short 30 minutes from town.

No matter how many endurance races I do, they are almost always different.

Even with a podium finish in the 24 Hours of Barcelona, and moving up in this year’s 24H International Endurance Series (IES), I’ve had little interest in celebrating.

Drivers often receive more praise than we deserve. Endurance racing is about teams, not a driver’s race. No single person wins it and any member can cause the loss. We win endurance races by clicking off laps and staying out of the pits, not damaging or killing the equipment.

It’s nice, but you don’t have to be the fastest driver on the track. For this race I drove two cars. One of my teams nearly won while the other lost when I was driving the car.

We finished P2 in the SP3 class and 11th out of 74 cars driving Cor Euser’s No. 160 Lotus Evora with Cor and Huub Delnoij. The team did a fantastic job, made our finish possible, and it was very close, within 30 seconds of P1 at the end. Simply didn’t have the winning Porsche’s power and a one minute penalty for speeding in Code 60 was very costly.

In my Midnight to 2 a.m. stint I had a blast racing against the class-winning No. 43 Porsche 997 from APO Sport, repeatedly chasing them down for a pass only to lose the position seconds later.

Huub is a skilled upcoming driver. What’s most impressive is his lack of ego, so uncommon in drivers in our racing world. At 17, he is too young to have a Dutch street driver’s license and he pretended he didn’t know how to drive when he first went to driver education, never telling of his winning race results that any of us would brag about. He is very talented and when the stars align we likely will see him one day driving F1.

Extremely disappointed with the driving result and pain inflicted on the team in my second car, the No. 92 MARC Cars Australia Focus. Sunday morning I was hit hard in the back and knocked into the Turn 5 gravel trap by No. 88, ending our race.

I drove each stint very cautiously and was disappointed that I couldn’t somehow avoid this idiot in the 88. Knowing it was not my fault and there was little I could have done does not reduce the sadness I feel for our team’s loss. We were P1 in class and 7th overall with just over four hours to go.

Our team, and co-drivers Ryan McLeod, Peter Leemhuis, Morgan Haber and Jade Edwards, did a great job getting our car into this position, but Peter lost his lead in the championship because of this result. We placed 53rd of 74 cars and eighth in class after racing 19 hours and 43 minutes, completing 501 laps.

The MARC cars are a custom tube frame with an interesting design. Pure race car with lots of power, fairly stable, good brakes with many nice driver features. Feels like driving a stock car because the seat is far back, less track visibility and large cockpit. Good team, do hope they ask and give me another chance to drive with them again.

Congratulation to Chantal Kroll for clinching the 24H Ladies Cup and taking the lead in the IES championship. She is a great driver and my early-season teammate. The IES driver title will come down to a battle between the top 10. Most of us have been teammates or are friends so, somewhat cruelly, how we finish the next race will decide who will win.

Fellow Americans and racing friends Charles Putman, Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and David Russell drove the MRS GT-Racing No. 20 Porsche 991 Cup. Theirs was a tough race having to deal with a contact and other result-killing problems after running up front. Great guys and with the luck we expect to see them on the podium.

Congrats to Mercedes-Benz racing team friends in the No. 10 Hofor entry for finishing second overall and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 30 for third place.

I will close with a few points that did not make it into my last post about our Zolder race. Our drink pump failed in our next to last stint resulting in just under three hours without water. We also lost the ABS.

Driving a car without ABS is not a problem, but cars that have that function can have serious issues when it fails. The computer that controls the brake bias or balance is not adjustable, meaning whatever the front/back pressures were at the time of failure is what you live with.

This can range anywhere from undriveable to a minor irritation. If you lose ABS in your street car, brake early and lightly. Sudden or heavy pressure can result in you needing to change underwear after the car lurches left or right taking it out of lane, off road or worse.

Next race is at the 24 Hour at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben in Germany, Sept. 25 – 27.

Hal Prewitt is an American sports car racing driver, competing in the 24H Series and other endurance races around the world. A native of Daytona Beach, Fla. who now splits his time between Miami’s South Beach and Park City, Utah, Prewitt is a computer hardware and software technology pioneer and also an emerging fine-art photographer.

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