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De Phillippi: BMW Had to “Go For It” in Near Miss

Connor De Phillippi says BMW’s decision to gamble on fuel was the right one…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Connor De Phillippi says BMW Team RLL made the right choice in rolling the fuel mileage dice despite coming up a few laps short in Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America.

The BMW factory driver appeared to be en route to delivering the first win for the BMW M8 GTE when the fuel tank ran dry in the final few minutes, souring what had the potential to be a breakthrough day.

De Phillippi vaulted to the class lead following a rapid final pit stop, but the team later discovered they had not completely fueled the tank.

In the ensuing uncertainty, the Bobby Rahal-led squad elected to take a chance on fuel mileage in the hopes of bringing home a much needed win.

“We were a bit unsure of fuel numbers [in the final stint]” De Phillippi told Sportscar365. “The last stop we bunnyhopped the Ford by a large margin.

“We weren’t planning to short fill, but fuel came out of the vent tube. We’re still trying to investigate what happened. It wasn’t really planned being short on fuel, otherwise they would have had me save a little bit. It’s just one of those deals.

“Obviously there was an issue and we weren’t sure which numbers to rely on as far as a fuel number so we decided just to go for it and hopefully we’d make it.

“Unfortunately we didn’t, but we’ll come back in a few weeks and try and get them at VIR.”

Both BMWs showed markedly improved pace throughout the entire weekend, especially compared to its struggles in last month’s round at Lime Rock, which saw the German entries mired at the bottom of the time sheets.

In spite of the bitter disappointment of the finish, De Phillippi said the weekend as a whole was a crucial shot in the arm for the whole team.

“It’s certainly disappointing, but we can all leave with a smile on our face still,” he said.

“When you go from a weekend like Lime Rock, to bounce back, show that we clearly had pace to be competitive with the other guys, you always want to win but to come away from a weekend knowing that you can start battling for wins and podiums is a good feeling.

“It’s a huge boost for me as a driver and being new to BMW. When you switch to another brand, you obviously want to try to win straight away but with the current program it’s going to be a building process and it’s not going to be easy to do straight off the bat.

“It’s been a mental thing for me as well to adjust and have expectations, be a part of the puzzle to keep building in the right direction, which we’ve been doing. We can be proud of what we did today and keep moving forward.

“I’m upbeat. Give me an ice cream, a little bit of sleep, and we’ll go get ’em in two weeks.”

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based broadcaster and reporter. In addition to his work covering primarily domestic sports car racing for Sportscar365, he is the lead announcer for SRO America's TV coverage as well as a pit reporter for IndyCar Radio. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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