Just over a week has passed since Gaston Kearby’s dramatic crash during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring destroyed two Prototype Challenge cars and sparked controversy, adding to a series of incidents that spawned numerous caution flags during the second race of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Halfway through the 12-hour race, Kearby spun and found his No. 87 BAR1 entry facing the opposite direction. After seeing track workers respond and thinking the yellow flag had come out as a result, he made an attempt to cross into the grass on the other side of the track and out of harm’s way.
However, too much throttle coupled with slippery debris on the track caused the PC car to kick out and rotate into the path of oncoming traffic that was still racing under green. It was Alex Tagliani in the No. 08 RSR PC entry with nowhere to turn who smashed into the side of Kearby after cutting hard right at last instant to avoid a head-on impact.
“To simply say ‘I’m sorry’ for what happened is an understatement,” said Kearby. “My sincerest apologies extend not only to the entire RSR team, crew, and of course, to Alex, but also to the BAR1 Motorsports team who worked their hearts out all weekend.
“I made a decision in the heat of the moment that cost two teams the race and put myself and others in jeopardy. Moving forward I am determined to take additional steps necessary to grow in my skills as a driver.”
Fortunately for all, the crash resulted in only minor bumps and bruises to the drivers. Tagliani suffered a sore wrist as a result of the impact, with Kearby experiencing bruised ribs. It was a testament to the strength of the car’s construction.
“ORECA builds an impressive car that, thankfully, every PC driver involved in accidents during the race was able to walk away from,” noted Kearby. “Between the cars and the IMSA safety staff, I’m grateful for their attention to detail to keep us as safe as possible.”
Yet in spite of the FLM09′s strength, the accident resulted in the loss of both cars, creating a substantial expense for the RSR and BAR1 teams.
“Knowing your decisions not only caused an accident, but caused such a costly one adds to the sting,” said Kearby. “I know there has been criticism and anger over the incident, and believe me, I understand where it’s coming from. Brian Alder of BAR1 has been good-spirited in spite of it all, and I appreciate his support and understanding as we move forward.”
Since leaving Sebring, Kearby has followed the old adage by getting back in the saddle, competing in two rounds of the SCCA Majors tour in Atlanta the very next weekend.
He was back in his K-Hill Motorsports 016a Formula Atlantic car for the BFGoodrich Tires Atlanta Super Tour at Road Atlanta, racing alongside his 16-year-old son, Conner.
“I’m still a little sore, but getting right back out on the track is an important step,” said Kearby. “It was much-needed therapy to shake off what happened, get focused, and keep moving forward.”
Kearby, the 2013 SCCA Majors Mid-States Champion in FA, finished 3rd overall on Saturday and 4th on Sunday among a near-record field. Son Conner finished 8th and 5th for the weekend in FA while also placing 5th and 3rd in FC piloting an FF2000.
“We’re out there racing nearly every weekend, be it SCCA, vintage racing, or at our home track at MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, Texas just turning laps as a family,” said Kearby. “I’m serious about the sport and improving as a driver. I’m looking forward to being back out on the track in a PC car with an increased level of discipline and determination from a hard lesson learned.”