8Star Motorsports led from the front, sensationally converting pole position into victory in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Lone Star Le Mans feature race at Circuit of the Americas (20 September).
An incredible qualifying effort by Sean Rayhall was followed by a determined and resolute charge to victory lane for the second consecutive race by the Georgia-based racer and Mexican teammate Luis ‘Chapulin’ Diaz.
Saturday’s 20-minute morning warm-up was positive for the 8Star driver pairing, as they continued to lap the Austin circuit quickly to keep a tight grip on the top of the Prototype Challenge (PC) rankings, with a dominant one second advantage over the chasing pack.
A false start to the race was followed by a strong getaway for Chapulin, who stamped his authority by consistently improving his lap times to build a dominant lead.
Diaz, backed by Takis, stayed strong and led the PC class for the entirety of his stint, before handing the #25 entry to Rayhall with little under 1h40m to go.
Rayhall was quickly out of the pits and landed in second place behind CORE autosport’s #54 PC challenger in the hands of Colin Braun.
The pairing locked horns in the fight for the PC initiative and an attempt to pass at Turn 1 ended with the orange 8Star Motorsports machine spinning down to fourth position. Braun was penalized as a result and, from third, Rayhall began hunting down the top two in a determined bid to reclaim the lead.
With an hour to go, Rayhall was still in third place and pushing hard, but moved back to the top of the leaderboard when his rivals had problems entering the pit lane.
Following a remarkable recovery, the 18-year old concentrated on conserving his fuel to maintain first position during the run to the flag and clinch the second consecutive race win for the 8Star Motorsports team.
“What a day for 8Star Motorsports,” said Rayhall. “To get spun out and drop to fourth and get back to first position and finish there for the second time is amazing! I am thankful to be driving for this Takis 8Star Motorsports team and I really feel blessed to be one of Enzo Potolicchio’s drivers. Yves (Touron) and the crew did an excellent job, the car was amazing and we were able to get our second victory in a row.”
Diaz said: “I am extremely happy for the Takis 8Star Motorsports team, as the guys did an excellent job. Sean drove brilliantly to close the race, and the strategy worked out great for us. This is my last race with 8Star Motorsports and I can’t thank them enough for this amazing season. Being able to close it with two wins in a row and leaving the team in a position to battle for the championship at Petit Le Mans is just great.”