ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 6, 2017) – WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished ninth in the GTD class in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America.
MacNeil started 11th on the GTD grid in the No. 50 WeatherTech Porsche. Early in the race, he ran as high as ninth before a combination of brake and left rear issues led to MacNeil getting passed by three cars in Turn Five. Subsequently, he fell to 12th place before handing the car over to Jeannette on lap 21 with an hour and 51 minutes to go in the two hour and 40 minute race.
“I was having some brake issues,” MacNeil said. “The brake bias kept creeping when I was in the car. I didn’t really know where the brakes were going, which hampered my lap times. We had some sort of issue in the left rear. I don’t know if the shock was going down or what. But, the car was never really right.
“In Turn Five, the brakes just locked and I went straight. I got passed by three cars. I tried to catch back up. But, every time I’d turn in for a right hand corner, the car would sort of fall over and almost want to spin, which is pretty dangerous. I just tried to cruise, nurse it and not crash.”
The early part of Jeannette’s stint was also fairly eventful. On lap 24, he hit some body work that flew off a competitor’s car, followed by getting pushed off into the marbles. This forced him wide off track and into the grass, where he collected some clippings on the front grill. At that point, the car temperatures started to rise. Jeannette, a veteran racer, used the old ‘get close to the car in front of you trick’ to loosen and remove the grass from the front grill. This move allowed him to stay on track and in the hunt.
Shortly after the grass incident, the team had Jeanette go into fuel conservation mode to get him through to the next pit stop. From there, he slowly worked his way up from 12th to finish ninth.
“I don’t know what happened, but the 75 car shed some body work and I hit it because I couldn’t avoid it quickly enough in the carousel,” Jeanette said. “Then, I went to go left of the 75 car and the left side of the car got into the marbles. I went off and drove through the grass. Luckily, I brought the car back on track. We had a bunch of grass in the radiator and the temperatures were climbing up. But, I was able to get close enough to the back of another car that it sucked all the grass off so I didn’t have to come in.
“To have a top 10 with the Porsche is good for our first outing with it. I think we’re just a little bit behind the curve. All of the guys just did an amazing job just to get us out here. They put in two weeks of early mornings and late nights. To race the Porsche is a testament to all of the hard work. Now, we just need to do a little bit more homework on the setup and go from there.”
“A top 10, for the first time running the car in a year in half, is a good result,” MacNeil said. “Obviously, the car has more potential with how the other Porsches finished. My hats off to the Riley guys for working their tails off to get the car running and learning the car in basically a week.”
“This top 10 finish is good for us,” said Greg Jones, Riley Motorsports team manager. “The guys did a lot of working trying to get the car turned around between Lime Rock and here. They didn’t really see the car until about seven days ago. They were able to get it together. We got here and had a steep learning curve for sure. I think the guys did a great job. I think the team did a great job as a whole to get the car to where it is and being competitive.”
The IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship next heads to Alton, Va. for the Michelin GT Challenge Aug. 25 – 27 at Virginia International Raceway.