8Star Motorsports qualified third in the Prototype Challenge (PC) classification for the 2014 Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda – the critical final round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) – at Road Atlanta on Friday (3 October).
Briton Tom Kimber-Smith will share driving duties with the Georgia-based Sean Rayhall and New York’s Eric Lux in the ten-hour title decider on Saturday (4 October).
Improvements were made during free practice on Thursday (2 October), with 8Star Motorsports – a contender for the TUDOR Championship Teams’ crown and the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup – consistently frequenting the top three positions.
Rain hit Road Atlanta on Friday morning and, in a move to preserve its car ahead of qualifying, 8Star wisely decided not to partake in the weekend’s final free practice session.
Fortunately, the wet conditions dissipated in time for qualifying and the drivers were able to show their full potential on a dry track. Kimber-Smith was elected to qualify bright orange #25 PC machine, having been the fastest of 8Star’s trio for most of the weekend, and an intense tussle for pole position would rage on until the British ace wound up third with a 1m16.599s, just four tenths shy of the fastest time.
“Qualifying went pretty well for the 8Star Motorsports team,” said Kimber-Smith. “I made a couple of mistakes coming off of Turn 5 that ultimately cost us in the final result, but a third place isn’t bad and I’m very much looking forward to the race, as I believe we will not have these problems tomorrow.”
Lux added: “8Star Motorsports did an outstanding job, improving the car throughout free practice and qualifying. Tom (Kimber-Smith) did a great job to qualifying the car on the second row of the grid and I am really looking forward to tomorrow’s race. I am pleased that the work I have been doing since my last race at Watkins Glen has paid off and I am very optimistic going into tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, in the supporting IMSA-sanctioned Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship, Christian Potolicchio clinched third position in the final standings. The young 8Star Academy scholar finished the opening IMSA Lites encounter on the third step of the winners’ rostrum and recovered from an unfortunate collision to conclude a rain-affected second race in 12th.
8Star Team Owner Enzo Potolicchio, on the other hand, had a troubled outing in race one, but mastered the wet conditions on Friday morning (3 October) to scythe his way from the back of the grid to second place at the finish, delighted that 8Star was able to clinch the runner-up spot in the Teams’ Championship.
“It has been a great season for 8Star Motorsports,” said Enzo Potolicchio. “The team has achieved several podium finishes in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship and I’m delighted to have ended up second in the Teams’ standings with Christian (Potolicchio) third overall in the Drivers’ classification. Of course, we are still in the hunt for the Teams’ and NAEC titles in the TUDOR Championship and I’m really looking forward to achieving this by winning Petit Le Mans. But no matter what happens, I am really proud of the job the 8Star Motorsports team, including Yves Touron and Gary Neal, have done throughout the year.”