DETROIT (June 3, 2017) – WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished 12th Saturday in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.
MacNeil started 11th on the GTD grid and quickly moved up to ninth after the first lap. From there, MacNeil drove clean, consistent laps around the 2.3-mile, 14-turn temporary street course. In fact, he had the car up to seventh before he handed the controls of the No. 50 WeatherTeach Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 over to Jeannette.
“My stint was pretty clean,” MacNeil said. “The WeatherTech Mercedes was pretty good – just a little pushy. But, it was pretty safe to drive. I did the best I could to keep it off the walls and off the other cars. I ended up brushing the wall one time on the right side trying to push hard, but that’s racing. It didn’t hurt anything. I turned the car over to Gunnar in seventh place.”
With about 10 minutes remaining in the 100-minute race, Jeannette was running seventh just outside the top five when his No. 50 Mercedes lost power. Jeannette radioed the team about the problem. Lead engineer Matt Bejnarowicz suggested cycling the master off and on to see if it would reset. Unfortunately, that did not work and Jeannette barely limped the car around the circuit back to pit lane.
Once on pit lane, Jeannette turned the car off, while the team looked under the hood trying to find the problem. But, the crew couldn’t find what was wrong. So, Bejnarowicz suggested another solution to deal with this electrical issue and asked Jeannette to restart the No. 50 Mercedes. When he did, the car started right up and seemed to be fine, and Bejnarowicz sent Jeannette back out on course one lap down with about 8 minutes remaining. Unfortunately, this electrical issue dropped the team to 12th, which is where they finished.
“This was not the day AMG-Mercedes wanted,” Jeannette said. “But, it was good to see Acura get its first win in the series. I’m sure they’re pumped about that. We really didn’t have the car all weekend. In the race, it was pretty decent. But, it was just really hard to make anything happen. We had a real high level of understeer. So, we just kind of sat where we were [in the same position] once we came out of the pits [from our pit stop].
“About 10 minutes from the end of the race, we just lost all power. The throttle became unresponsive. The engine sounded totally dead. I was going to stop on circuit. I went through all of the normal stuff. I turned the TC (traction control) off, cycled the ignition, did the master power, changed engine maps, and it kind of woke it up a little bit to where it would at least go at idle. So, we made it into the pits. We couldn’t really find anything. We just reset the electronic throttle and then it came back to life. It was a bummer. We would have maybe finished in the top five.”
“My hat’s off to the Riley guys for working hard, performing the pit stop flawlessly, and keeping us going,” MacNeil said. “Now, it’s onto Watkins Glen. I’m looking forward to that race and having Shane van Gisbergen back with us.”
MacNeil will travel to Le Mans, France this evening to take part in the official 24 Hours of Le Mans test on Sunday driving the No. 62 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488.
The IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship heads to New York June 29 to July 2 for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.