BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 7, 2017) - WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Patrick Long's (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) day finished in disappointment within the first hour of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
MacNeil qualified 16th in the GTD class and climbed two spots early in the race. But, just as quickly as he was rising up the leaderboard, so too, was the temperature rising in the car's transmission. Under caution on lap 14, MacNeil brought the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Porsche to the garage for a more thorough look at the problem. The team spent nearly 30 minutes diagnosing the problem before deciding not to continue.
"I started getting gearbox temperature alarms about 10 minutes into the race," MacNeil said. "Obviously, that's a horrible sign to begin with let alone the start of a 10-hour race. I had to clear it on the dash three times per lap. The guys were working hard in the pits to figure out the problem. We were three degrees away from potentially blowing the transmission when my engineer Greg Jones made the call to bring me in. It was the right call because if I'm doing 150 mph and the thing explodes itself in the back [of the car], I could be backwards and potentially hurt myself and others.
"It's unfortunate that it ended this way. I felt like we had a strong, reliable car and a good driver lineup to get a top result. Hats off to the guys for working really hard not only this weekend, but this entire year. It's very difficult for them and for us drivers to switch mid-season from one car to another. They [the crew] had to learn the car [Porsche] and we [the drivers] had to re-learn the car. But, they never gave up. A big thank you to Bill Riley and the crew for working really hard this year. We had one win this year. So, that was a positive. Gunnar and I won at Long Beach in the Mercedes, which was awesome."
"We had something going on in the gearbox where the temperature was getting higher and higher," Jeannette said. "The yellow came out and the temperature didn't even come down then. We were trying to figure out what to do and we knew that we had to come into the garage to take the floor [of the car] off and assess the situation.
"Unfortunately, we're out [of the race]. It was a difficult weekend. You hate ending the season on this note. But, there were a lot of positives - winning at Long Beach was great.
"We lost a QD system, which is a quick disconnect on the water system," Greg Jones, WeatherTeam Racing Team engineer said. "This system actually cools the gearbox. The QD failed and we have a restriction to the water flow to the gearbox. Therefore, overheating it. If we had continued, it would have blown the gearbox up. It wouldn't have been good. This is a tough way to go out."
The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship season gets underway with the Rolex 24 At Daytona Jan. 25-28 at the World Center of Racing in Daytona.