Race Team Mckibbin's - Biohazard at Road Atlanta | Race Recap of first race of 2015 season | McKibbin's Irish Pub | Race Team Mckibbin's - Biohazard at Road Atlanta | RACE RECAP – Road Atlanta, 14hr Endurance Race, February 7, 2015
by Tommy Guttmann, Driver - Team Mckibbin’s-Biohazard ...
 
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Race Team Mckibbin's - Biohazard at Road Atlanta
Race Recap of first race of 2015 season

RACE RECAP – Road Atlanta, 14hr Endurance Race, February 7, 2015 by Tommy Guttmann, Driver - Team Mckibbin’s-Biohazard MR2

We were all particularly piqued for this, our first race of the year, for several reasons.
Everyone was itching to get “back in the saddle” after the winter hiatus.
Most especially at this legendary venue, where historically we had already enjoyed two wins and one 2nd place in the three short years of the event. That’s a remarkable feat in itself, however we had also managed a 4th place during a short, 4hr secondary race held during the 1st year of the event.

Further fueling our anticipation was that Troy, our Team Principal, had done an incredible job of rejuvenating the race car over the winter. There were many enhancements, the most obvious of which was the striking ‘Caterham F1 Green’ hue that he had sprayed the car.
Along with a freshened up interior that was now light grey, a new OMP containment seat, steering wheel, revised aero package and many other subtle changes, Troy had us all drooling with anticipation.

Our team had already unloaded in the paddock, adjacent to our sister team, the “RSM Zipline Mckibbin’s MR2GTV6” when Rick and I finally arrived on Friday night, thanks to a Delta flight delay.

The Mckibbin’s-Biohazard MR2 looked resplendent in its dazzling new livery, with gold Mckibbin’s Irish Pub logos and those of our other new sponsor, Falken Tires. The color contrast to the bright yellow RSM MR2GTV6 sister car was just perfect!

Everyone had already gone through tech, as well as their annual gear tech, which we, the two late arrivals, would have to do in the morning. So the next order of business was the usual pre-race dinner feast where we could all catch up and enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed ambience before the frenzy of the race!

Race day dawned clear and dry - a welcome relief to some of the weather we had experienced here in the past. As has been customary, Kevin took the green and did his usual outstanding job of bringing the car safely up from its 38th place starting position to something like 7th. Despite the heavy traffic of a full field, he also set our FTD of 1:44.497 before handing over to yours truly.

My stint started uneventfully, and I was very much enjoying the comfort and revised driving position in the cockpit. The new relation of the seat not being quite as reclined, and the steering wheel being a bit closer due to the more upright seat angle as well as the quick release hub, seemed to afford a bonus of slightly lowering steering effort.

Good stuff indeed, and the new Falken tires were performing so consistently well, that frankly, I didn't even think of them. I was re-familiarizing myself with wonderful Road Atlanta, one of my favorite tracks, and carefully picking off traffic, which kept condensing directly ahead thanks to a couple of FCRs as well a few FCYs. Nonetheless, the rhythm and flow was starting to come to me, when disaster struck! Literally! We had advanced up to 2nd place, when we were taken out by our sister team’s car shortly after a restart.

Embarrassing and breaking the cardinal rule of racing, it was completely unintentional of course. Whether the crash was construed to have been caused by a simple miscalculation or awkward judgment, is irrelevant in hindsight as it was accidental. I prefer to call it a racing incident and write it off as that. I was and am good friends with the driver, Mike, and have great respect for him on as well as off track.

From my seat, the way it unfolded was that I was traveling slightly off-race pace, not having realized until immediately before the incident that the track had gone green after a caution. I was ‘driving the racing line’ through one of the track’s fastest and trickiest sections, with a major elevation change and did not anticipate that anyone was coming up on me, or that there would be an outside pass attempt exiting T12. The other driver however, assumed I noticed he was there, that he was traveling faster at the time, and had projected that I would pull off-line to give him room. It was as simple as that, and we had contact at about 100mph. I tried my best to keep the car on track, but with two broken wheels and a tire down, I was happy not to have slammed the wall much harder than the glancing touch that had resulted.

Ultimately, we were both extremely fortunate that there were no injuries and that damage to cars was minimal. Our Mckibbin’s-Biohazard MR2 was back on track in only 18 minutes after some remarkable pit work involving changing both left side wheels and adjusting a bent rear tie-rod. We had lost only 7 laps.
The RSM Zipline Mckibbin’s MR2GTV6 sister car however, which had sustained only cosmetic damage, was pitted by the driver, Mike, who was overcome by what had just happened. That’s the kind of gentleman he is and I am certain he experienced as much regret as I, over what had transpired. A highly skilled and accomplished racer, it’s always been a privilege to compete against him. We have battled before and I look forward to battling again.

After the repair work, the car seemed perfect again, and I soldiered on for another 45 or so minutes until the end of my stint and handed over to Rick. He in turn, despite driving a very solid stint, unfortunately had further contact. He was pinched down into T7 by a BMW that wasn’t giving up the corner. This is a common passing zone, and the incident, while unintentional, resulted in an even longer stop back in the paddock. Yet another broken wheel was replaced as well as the left inner front tie-rod end and another alignment.

Joey was up next, and he drove a remarkably good stint, especially considering it was his first time here. Nice job and no contact! Jerry, who was also driving with his own team, also enjoyed a clean, uneventful stint and had the 2nd fastest lap after Kevin.

Troy was up next and he also put in a great, drama-less stint and was about to hand over to me for the final hour, when he detected an issue with the right front brake caliper. Once again, the car was brought back to the paddock and a missing caliper bolt was replaced!

At this point there was only about 20 minutes left in the race and it was decided that rather than be scored with a DNF, that I would get back in the car and cross the finish line and actually complete the race despite all that had happened. We ended up in 48th place, 74 laps down from the winner and the RSM Zipline Mckibbin’s MR2GTV6 finished in 13th.

We all came away from this race somewhat scarred, but if anything, with greater camaraderie between us all and we look forward to our next sortie together.

Thanks to our key sponsors!

Mckibbin’s Irish Pub
Falken Tires - Azenis RT615K DOT-Approved Track Tire
Zipline Welding Booms - Fusion Pit Lighting Systems
Frozen Rotors - Cryogenically enhanced brake discs