SCC: Insight Racing Daytona qualifying report
Insight Racing Endures Some Highs and Lows On Race Debut
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., 27 January - Making their inaugural race debut, Insight Racing went through the gamut of emotions that racing can offer. The Street Tuner (ST) Class BMW 328i driven by Tyler McQuarrie and Nico Rondet came out of the gates blazing to set the fastest time for its class at the conclusion of the first practice. Conversely, the Grand Sport (GS) Class BMW M3 piloted by Paul Gerrard and Martin Jensen never left the garage during the first practice. Instead they focussed on installing an upgraded differential on the new machine that has so far only been driven in anger over the course of three-day test last week.
Fortunes would turn in the afternoon practice. The ST class 328i, this time with Rondet in the driver's seat, was forced to return to the garage after only five laps with a blown motor. Meanwhile, Gerrard and the M3 turned their collective first laps at Daytona International Speedway running a conservative program, methodically honing the car's set up to prepare for qualifying.
Alas, Gerrard was the only of the Insight Racing pair to attempt to qualify for the GRAND-AM Continental Sports Car Challenge Grand-Am 200. Unbowed, the ST car crew sprang to effect a motor change on the 328i, which means it will start Friday's race from the back of the field.
Gerrard was able to end the day on a high note by securing the 15th starting position in the 32-car GS class field, and thereby attaining one of the team's early season goals of starting within the top-15. Gerrard's best lap was his fourth trip around Daytona's famed road course in which he recorded a best time of 1:59.191 sec.
"It was my first time here at Daytona, and in a GS class car it was so much fun to have this much power. The speeds were impressive, and the 31 degree banking is also really fun. For the first time out, we didn't no what to expect, and I have to say that I was expecting to get down to a 2:00 minute-flat lap time and in fact we went nearly a second better," said the English born Gerrard who now resides in Boulder, CO. "We had to balance the need to just get laps on the car with the fact that we don't want to start the race in the middle of the pack or further back as that can lead to putting yourself needlessly in jeopardy. All-in-all, I'm really impressed and looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Team co-founders and directors Gil Lynagh and Chris Dillon looked on in admiration of the crews unbending enthusiasm and professionalism.
"Given the challenges that we've had throughout the day to prepare the cars, I think that starting from 15th is a respectable result. We'll continue to develop the GS car to prepare it for the race where I think our drivers, who are not just fast, but have also demonstrated to have exceptional racecraft, will perform well tomorrow afternoon," said Lynagh. "The ST car was perfect and running well until we had a problem with the engine. We've got a spare motor that's being installed now and we will run well, despite starting from the back. Our focus is score points. We know we have a good ST car, we know the GS car needs to be developed further, and we'll take the lessons from this weekend and continue to improve. Anytime you start with a new team or new project, you're going to face challenges. I'm very happy that the team has faced the challenges and worked through them. Our whole mantra is to refine, refine, refine, so I'm very happy and I know that by mid season, we'll be competing for wins."
-source: insight racing