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JDC-Miller Salvages Points After Rapid Rebuild

JDC-Miller Motorsports makes most of challenging Saturday…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Detroit’s Belle Isle saw JDC-Miller Motorsports salvage valuable championship points after a remarkable rebuild and teamwork from within the Prototype Challenge field.

An accident in warmup for the team’s No. 85 Oreca FLM09 of Misha Goikhberg resulted in left-front tub damage to the car, and looked to put the Minnesota-based team, which entered the weekend tied for the championship lead, out of action.

Despite the odds, the team wasn’t about to to give in, and went to work at finding a way to make the grid, according to co-owner John Church.

“First we had to decide what we were going to do,” Church told Sportscar365. “At first the series wasn’t that interested in us running [the damaged] car but they left it up to ORECA.

“ORECA spent some time looking at it, and they decided, ‘no’, which was too bad.”

After the original chassis was ruled out, the team surveyed the paddock and found that BAR1 Motorsports had a spare chassis on the grounds, and the teams quickly came to terms to arrange a lease for the weekend.

Even with a spare tub in hand, Church said there were still hoops to jump through.

“Then we went back and forth with the series as to what we had to change on another car, and basically we could only use the tub. And that car hadn’t been updated, so it didn’t have any of the updated electronics.”

That left the team in a race against time build up a new car in time for Goikhberg to hit the track and log the minimum 35 minutes of drive time in order to score points for he, co-driver Stephen Simpson.

“They literally stripped down our car and rebuilt another car in the space of about two-hours,” Simpson said.

“The way the steering column is on the BAR1 car versus our car, the quick releases were lined up opposite so Misha was driving with the wheel upside down. The paddles were opposite.

“I know for a fact it was a real handful to drive.”

Members of the rival BAR1 team, including team owner Brian Alder, helped in the teardown and assembly of the car, which saw the rear-end of the JDC-Miller car mated with BAR1’s tub in record time.

The team got the work done shortly after the green flag at 12:40 p.m. ET, and Goikhberg managed to get on track, although initially stopping on his out lap and later running into the barriers. Both incidents brought out full-course cautions.

Church detailed the challenge that the team faced in combining the two cars.

“That one was just set up where the splines were 180-degrees off, so we were rolling down to tech and realized that the steering wheel is upside down,” he said.

“Also, the fuel pumps in that car wire differently, so when we plugged in we didn’t have any lift pumps, and when you put the reserve pump on that would shut everything off. So the reserve was put on somehow out there, and then the car shut off.

“We didn’t have telemetry so we had no idea what was going on. We finally got that figured out, but then we had to stop every 10 minutes so that we could keep the fuel can full inside the cell because there was nothing pumping into it.

“It was a mess, but it was too late at that point to fix it.”

The team lost the points lead, provisionally to PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, which finished third in class on Saturday, but Goikhberg and Simpson managed to score 7th place points by getting the car on track.

Those points could end up playing a large part in the outcome of the championship, come October.

“I guess it’s frustrating to have days like this, but we got points so it could have been worse,” said Church.

Simpson added: “I’m sure come Road Atlanta at the end of this year, we’ll be thankful that we made the effort today.”

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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