The leading 8Star Motorsports team heads to Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda (3-4 October), the highly-anticipated final round of the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, with the prospect of winning the Teams’ title and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC).
A frontrunner for the duration of the 2014 season, the fates conspired against 8Star during the early part of the year, only for the tenacious Pompano Beach-based team to turn its fortunes around and emerge as the one to beat.
It recently took consecutive Prototype Challenge (PC) race wins at Virginia International Raceway and Circuit of the Americas and, while several championship titles will be decided at Petit Le Mans, 8Star is in the running for the TUDOR Championship Teams’ crown, as well as the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC).
With the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fuelled by Fresh From Florida and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International behind it, 8Star Motorsports sits on 28 points, ten adrift of its CORE autosport rival, with points scored at the four and eight-hour marks, and the at finish after hour ten at Petit Le Mans.
This comes after the Floridian outfit reinforced its commitment to developing young talent, expanding its flourishing 8Star Academy to open-wheelers with an entry in the 2015 Indy Lights Series Presented by Cooper Tires – the final step on the ‘Road to Indy’.
The Enzo Potolicchio-led team has a long-held passion for nurturing young talent and Sean Rayhall is a product of its already flourishing sportscar program. The 18-year old entered the 8Star fold and won the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship at the foot of its ‘stairway of talent’, before achieving a second place after a superlative drive on his PC debut at Petit Le Mans in 2013.
The Georgia hotshot has continued to notch up additional podium finishes and race wins in 2014. He most recently achieved two consecutive TUDOR Championship victories in 8Star’s PC challenger alongside Mexican Luis Diaz and, with previous form at his home Road Atlanta circuit, is hopeful of continuing that winning trend at Petit Le Mans.
“Coming off the back of two race wins and two pole positions, I’m pretty confident that 8Star Motorsports has a good shot of victory at Petit Le Mans, an event that holds fond memories for me,” said Rayhall. “The team has been working hard to give us drivers a good car all year and I know it will provide us with race-winning machinery again at Road Atlanta. Of course, this being an endurance race, the key will be to go the distance and it’s critical that we stay out of trouble – the race will be won or lost easily, particularly with so many cars on track. This is my home circuit and it has a real hometown feel about it for me, so I’m really excited about the weekend. Petit Le Mans is by far my favourite race and, having achieved second place on my PC debut last year, I have great memories of it.”
Briton Tom Kimber-Smith returns to the cockpit of 8Star’s PC machine for the first time since the Six Hours of The Glen in June and is also anticipating a strong end to the season: “I’m excited to be back driving the PC car with 8Star Motorsports after a few months away. 8Star has been the dominant team in the field and the bad luck we suffered at the beginning of the year appears to be a thing of the past. If we do our jobs as drivers, there’s a good chance of ending the weekend with at least one title. As Sean (Rayhall) and Luis (Diaz) have done such an incredible job of late, there is a little pressure, but I’m just interested to see what the event is like this year as part of the TUDOR Championship. The atmosphere has always been good, the circuit is fun to drive and the weather could throw another variable into the mix, making for an interesting weekend.”
Eric Lux also makes a welcome comeback to 8Star’s driver line-up and says he couldn’t be more excited ahead of the pivotal TUDOR Championship finale: “I could not be more excited to race with 8Star Motorsports at Petit Le Mans! Road Atlanta is a terrific circuit and Petit Le Mans has always been an outstanding event for fans and competitors. I am confident that the team will deliver a car capable of winning and match the effort with top-caliber work from the pits. Tom (Kimber-Smith) and Sean (Rayhall) have been excellent teammates this season. Our objective will be to protect the car and bring it to the front of the pack. I have finished on the podium twice at Petit Le Mans; ending this season with a win would be outstanding for Enzo (Potolichio) and 8Star Motorsports.”