Coming out of Mexico with a 5th place finish felt like a tough deal for our team, but the class was so close there (Aston Martin aside) that anything but complete perfection was going to result in not being on the podium.
We were very close to that, but changeable conditions in the race didn’t go our way and that was the difference between a top-three and 5th.
Having raced on the incredible old layout in 2006, I was a bit worried about how the new one would be and while it was not as bad as I expected, it feels like another great track has been lost and legendary fast corners replaced with multiple tight ones.
Do the designers get paid per corner? It certainly feels like that’s the case!
The Mexican fans were as amazing as ever though, they gave us such a great welcome, especially on the open top bus drivers parade pre race. The noise and atmosphere in the stadium was electric.
The surface was very low grip, but during the three sessions on the first day (we had one extra open practice at this new venue) we went from a car that was out of balance, to one that me, Andy and Harry loved. It was a true team effort and a day like that is so satisfying for the whole crew.
The Astons just suited this track so well and were so far up the road that we knew we were, in reality, fighting for 3rd place if they ran clean. The fight for that 3rd place was so, so intense all weekend, with very little to choose between us, our sister car, the Ferrari’s and the Porsche.
Unfortunately in qualifying we had a door latch issue which we had to fix twice and Andy had a small off that damaged the car (after an incredible first lap on cold tires). Harry managed to take that damaged car and do a lap that kept us in front of the Am cars, which was so important for the race.
Harry started the race and a storming first lap moved us from 7th to 4th and we were in the top 3 when we managed to double stinted our Michelin tires as others changed.
Andy was in after that and in changeable conditions did a great job also, he had a fever so it was a proper superman effort from him. We ran as high as 2nd, but the strategy we ended up with (it was a true 50/50 gamble that didn’t go our way this time) put us back to 6th and into a battle with the Porsche.
I took over the car in 5th place in similar changeable conditions, after a couple of dry laps, the rain was falling again at different points around the track and the intensity, and grip level was ever changing, which made it really difficult to know just how hard to push as each time you came to a corner as the conditions had completely changed since you’d last driven it.
It was about not making any mistakes and controlling the gap to the Porsche, which we managed to do.
We were all disappointed with 5th, the crew had done an incredible job in the pits and the margin between our 5th and a podium were so small that it’s massively frustrating for us all.
That said, there is so much to be proud of from a weekend at a track that didn’t suit our car and we’re ready to get back after it at Austin next weekend.
Austin is a city and track I love, and I can’t wait to drive our Ford GT around there, especially as we’ll have both our IMSA and WEC teams together again. Having double the information available over the weekend can only help us as a group.
Hopefully I’m writing about a good result for you, keep everything crossed for us please!