DETROIT (June 2, 2017) – WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah) will start from the sixth row in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class for Saturday’s 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.
Jeannette, who has never raced at Belle Isle, spent most of this morning’s practice session learning his way around the 2.3-mile, 14-turn temporary street course. Not only did he have to learn the track, but he had to learn how to get around it quickly. The duo’s best time this morning was 1:32.987.
In the morning practice, the team struggled with a bit of understeer. But, the team took measures to improve the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 for this afternoon’s session and the improvements helped, as the team posted a time of 1:31.275.
MacNeil had the controls of the No. 50 Mercedes for this afternoon’s 15-minute qualifying session. He steadily improved his lap times as the car got more comfortable to drive. In fact, he turned his fastest lap of 1:31.856 on the last lap of qualifying – good enough for 11th on the GTD grid.
“We had some issues with the car this morning with the front end not cooperating the way we wanted it to,” MacNeil said. “There’s just way to much understeer in the car. It took a while to figure it out. We went into qualifying with some big changes. We thought they’d be positive – and they were – but it took too long for the tires to come in. Early on, when the tires were at their best, the car was pretty loose. Later in qualifying, when the tires were not at their best, is when the car felt the best. So that’s very strange. It just transferred from oversteer to the theme of the day, which was understeer – mid-corner exit understeer.
“I was definitely pushing hard. I got my heart rate up for sure. I got close to the walls multiple times. All three of the Mercedes are pretty much together. We’re not far off the other guys. Now, we’ve just got to go chase down that Audi.”
Jeannette is confident in the team’s efforts despite dealing with some car balance issues early in the weekend.
“We’ve struggled today,” Jeannette said. “We struggled with the balance this morning. We made some really big changes. We went closer to what the No. 33 [Mercedes] car had. It improved the car for the second session. We’re just dealing with some things we can’t seem to solve. So, we’re going from there.
“The Mercedes has done really well this year. And, it’s done well because all of the AMG guys have done a really good job designing the car. I think our long run pace has been very good and has been part of the reason we’ve been winning races. Now, we’re at a point I think they’ve [IMSA] been trying to slow us down on the long run. Well, now our single lap pace is suffering probably too much. Personally, I thought the BoP for COTA was pretty even. Now because we’ve won three races in a row, we’ve probably got a little too much. But, nothing we can do right now. We just have to go out there and do the best we can.”
The green flag will drop on the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at 12:40 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, June 3. Race fans can catch live racing coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 2.