Robin Liddell says he was “absolutely delighted” to take the Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R’s first win last weekend, showing the car’s potential so soon into its development season.
In only its third Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race since its series debut at Circuit of The Americas in May, Liddell and co-driver Matt Bell claimed the car’s first win in global competition at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, with the Scot holding off a late charge by the No. 69 Motorsport In Action McLaren 570S GT4 of Jesse Lazare to bring Stevenson Motorsports back to victory lane for the first time in nearly two years.
It marked the first of a double win for the John Stevenson-owned team last weekend, as teammates Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis picked up GT Daytona class honors in the team’s Audi R8 LMS in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.
“We’re absolutely delighted,” he told Sportscar365. “Obviously this program was quite late coming to fruition and it was a big commitment for the Stevenson’s, as they’re still running the Audi in the WeatherTech Championship.
“It feels really good to get the first win for this new GT4 car, globally. I’m delighted about that and getting Stevenson back up there.
“We’ve been through some tough times, spent a lot of money, and not had a lot of success as we’ve enjoyed in the past.
“The team really needed this so I couldn’t be happier to be a part of that and help to make that happen.”
Following the controversial Camaro Z/28.R that Stevenson ran until 2015, Liddell said that part of his target this season is to demonstrate the new car’s philosophy, which has been built to SRO GT4 specifications.
The car made its competition debut in Pirelli World Challenge in March with Blackdog Speed Shop, although has yet to win in that series.
“It’s an exercise of people understanding what this car is about,” Liddell said. “It’s fair to say the Z/28.R wasn’t the most popular car in the paddock, and you could have argued it wasn’t really in the spirit of the rules.
“This car has been built as a GT4 car and it’s been to France, done its testing, and been homologated.
“It’s absolutely kosher, and I think part of this process is about making people understand that this is not a case of Stevenson, Pratt & Miller and Chevy again coming in to dominate with the car.
“It’s an SRO car and it’s going to follow the same principles as everyone else is subjected to.”
Despite its success ‘North of the Border’, Liddell maintains that this season remains a development year for the program, and that chasing more victories is not the priority at this point.
Having missed the opening two rounds of the season, Liddell and Bell sit a distant 14th in the GS class title race, with no realistic chance of taking home the championship this year.
“I think there are two ways to look at this,” Liddell said. “I don’t want to sound ungracious and I’m very happy to win the race, but I think it’s clear throughout most of the running that we’ve still got a bit of a lack of pace compared to the outright pace of the McLaren.
“We’re not in the points hunt so us winning today doesn’t really affect anybody in terms of points.
“Of course we wanted to win a race to prove we had potential, but really we’re thinking about the program into next year.”
For now, with five races remaining, Liddell says the plan is to iron out the issues they still have with the car and prepare for the car’s first full-season, championship attack next year.
“We’re still going through a learning process with the car and we were running quite strongly at Watkins Glen but ultimately had a problem with the engine and didn’t finish,” he said.
“We’ve had some other teething troubles this weekend in practice and testing, so we’re by no means arriving at the racetrack feeling like we’re absolutely on top of our game and ready to win a race.
“The fact that we won [at CTMP] was a little bit fortuitous with the fact that [the MIA McLaren] got the drive-through, but in the end we still put ourselves in a good spot.
“I feel positive about it going forwards but I know we’ve still got more to do and more to learn about this car.
“Of course we want to win more races but I don’t expect us to go out and dominate any events this year.”
John Dagys contributed to this report