2nd and 4th on Circuit of the Americas Grid
Austin, Texas (16 September 2016) – Looking to deliver more podiums for Audi and continue to generate more championship momentum in the closing stages of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Stevenson Motorsports once again qualified on the front row on Friday.
In a strategy switch, Lawson Aschenbach assumed the qualifying duties in the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS he shares with Matt Bell, locking in a front row starting spot. The team backed that up with another second row start thanks to Andrew Davis’ qualifying run in the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS he shares with Robin Liddell, which will start from fourth.
The word on everyone’s mind for the weekend was ‘hot’ as the Jacksonville, North Carolina based team fought to tune their Audi machinery to the late Texan summer heat. With temperatures soaring into the upper 90s and track temperatures well above that, Stevenson Motorsports utilized three one-hour practice sessions to give all four drivers valuable time in the literal ‘hot seat’, shaving precious seconds of their lap times from session to session.
With qualifying immediately following the IMSA companion Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race, both qualifying drivers fought hard to lay down fast lap times on a hot, slick track.
“I’m fairly happy with our result,” explained Aschenbach, who will start Saturday’s race before heading immediately to Sonoma to fight for a Pirelli World Challenge Championship title.
“Second place is a good starting position for tomorrow. It could be a bit of a cluster on the first lap here so being toward the front is not a bad thing. I expected a little bit more out of our Audi R8 LMS, I can’t lie, but these conditions and how hot it is right now, it’s really a bit of a guessing game each session as to what you should do to the car with how the track is going to be; how much rubber is going to be down, what kind of rubber is on the track. But in reality I think we got the maximum out of the car, we got what we could out of it and that’s all you can ask for in qualifying. Of course I wish we could have had the pole but I’m pleased to get second. I think it will be a long, hot race tomorrow so we are going to go back and think things through a little bit and hopefully even find some gains in the warmup tomorrow to put our best foot forward in the race.”
After earning three front row starts (Mosport, Lime Rock Park, Road America) earlier this year, Davis had been hoping to once again have a catbird seat for the start, but was just outside of range for his front-row aspirations.
“I’m a little bit disappointed we couldn’t have qualified higher but we are working hard to try and make our Audi R8 LMS work in these hot conditions here at COTA,” supplied Davis. “The track conditions and the tires just aren’t too happy here with each other so there has been a lot of sliding around. We have made a lot of changes and had some good response. I knew qualifying in the heat of the day would be difficult. So I pushed our No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi as hard as I could, but that was all we had today. I’m still happy to be up near the front and we are just going to have to be really smart tomorrow and just let the race come to us. But I’m really proud of the guys, they have been working hard as always. These guys are the greatest in the paddock so I’m really pleased about that and now we will work on the car for the long runs and make it work better for the duration of the race tomorrow.”
The team will have just one more quick 20 minute warmup in the morning to dial in some final changes before the green flag for the Lone Star Le Mans event on Saturday at 12:35 PM ET which will air LIVE on FS2 beginning at 12:30 PM ET.
Be sure to follow @stevensonmotor on Twitter for LIVE updates!