Stevenson Motorsports Carries Momentum of Double Victory to Lime Rock Park
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fun fact: Stevenson Motorsports just became the first team to win both an IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at the same racetrack on the same event weekend.

The feat was accomplished on July 8-9 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, when the team’s new No. 57 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R in the hands of co-drivers Robin Liddell and Matt Bell took the overall and Grand Sport (GS) class victory in Saturday’s Continental Tire Challenge race, followed by Andrew Davis and Lawson Aschenbach winning the GT Daytona (GTD) class in Sunday’s WeatherTech Championship race aboard the No. 57 Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Another fun fact: Stevenson also was the last team to accomplish a similar feat, winning both the Continental Tire Challenge and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series races at Road Atlanta in 2013. Turner Motorsport also has the Continental Tire Challenge-Rolex Series double on its racing résumé.

“Obviously, you’ve got to run two cars to win one in each class, which we haven’t done in a while,” states Stevenson Motorsports Team Manager Mike Johnson. “With the Audi, it’s amazing how many times we’ve just been so close.

“[With the Camaro] it was absolutely great. We always joked, saying, ‘As soon as we win one with the Camaro, the Audi’s going to win one right afterwards.’ We just didn’t know it was going to be 24 hours later.”

Both teams have a chance to repeat their victory this Saturday at Lime Rock Park. The Continental Tire Challenge kicks off a busy race day with a two-hour race beginning at 10:25 a.m. ET, followed by the two-hour, 40-minute WeatherTech Championship Northeast Grand Prix at 3 p.m. ET. There’s also a 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda race sandwiched in between, starting at 12:50 p.m. ET

The WeatherTech Championship race will be televised live on FS2, along with IMSA Radio audio and in-car cameras on IMSA.com and as well as live IMSA Radio coverage on RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio. The Continental Tire Challenge race will be streamed live on IMSA.com and will be televised on FS1 at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 30.

Johnson and the Stevenson team feel like they’ve got a strong opportunity to play a starring role in both races and have another great weekend at Lime Rock.

“From a GS standpoint, Pratt & Miller and Chevrolet have always built a great car for Lime Rock,” Johnson said. ”It makes a lot of downforce, it’s got good power coming off (turns) and excellent braking.

“Then, an Audi won (the Lime Rock GTD race) last year and we had a very fast Audi last year. In GTD, I think we feel really strong with the car. It can make a lot of downforce.”

“It has all the potential to happen again. But just like anybody that does this, there’s a hundred things you’ve got to do on a weekend and you’ve got to do all hundred of them right if you want a chance at winning any of these races.”

Johnson pointed out a few occasions recently – and over the past couple of years since the team’s 2015 Continental Tire Challenge GS-championship winning season and subsequent hiatus from the series until the introduction of the new Camaro GT4.R in May at Circuit of The Americas – where one or more of those hundred things didn’t go exactly right.

“You’ve got to remember that Mosport came a week after we had a double DNF (at Watkins Glen International),” he said. “We had the motor fail with 20 minutes to go in one car and we had a tire problem with three minutes to go in the Audi.

“When you keep having these weekends just fall apart at the last minute on you, it’s just so devastating. At Detroit, again we were leading, got a 20-second lead, full-course yellow, come out of the pits in fourth and have an axle fail with 20 to go.

“It’s amazing how strong our team is and how (owners) John and Susan Stevenson, they don’t ever lose faith. When you have those double DNFs, you’re like, ‘What else can we do? We just can’t get anything to work.’ Then, bam-bam, right out of nowhere, two wins. It brings you right back to, ‘OK, we knew we could still do this.’”

McAleer Hoping History Repeats Itself at Lime Rock for 50th Continental Tire Challenge Start

There might be no better track for Stevan McAleer to make his 50th IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge start than Lime Rock Park.

Over the last few years, the 1.5-mile circuit has been gracious to McAleer, co-driver Chad McCumbee and the rest of the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 team. After finishing second in 2014, the team has swept the Street Tuner (ST) class at Lime Rock Park the last two years and is looking to continue the streak in 2017.

“The biggest thing with the Mazda is that we really have a great handling car and it’s a mixture of a bunch of things,” McAleer said. “One, the team works really hard to get the setup. Two, Lime Rock is a track that Chad and myself really enjoy and three, probably the main one, is that for the Mazda MX-5, Lime Rock is a track that has all these long sweeping corners that really suit the platform of that car. So yeah, we’ve been strong there every single year and I’d like to add another win for my 50th, that’d be great.”

It hasn’t been an easy go-around, however, for the No. 25 so far in 2017. Solid finishes at Daytona and Circuit of The Americas have been overshadowed by three finishes outside of the top 10. With five races remaining on the schedule, McAleer and McCumbee sit 10th in the ST championship standings.

“I thought we got off to a great start,” McAleer said. “We had a strong performance at Daytona and that kind of set the level for what we expected of the year. Looking back at it, I really thought we were going to be in a championship lead or certainly fighting for the championship at this point in the season with a couple of stronger tracks coming to us like Watkins Glen and Lime Rock. But unfortunately, racing is great on its high times and its rough on its low times.”

The Scotland native did point out one advantage that the team has heading into the second half of the season.

“It gets to the point in the season where there’s a lot of teams that are in that championship fight and one car in particular who’s going to be strong as well will be looking to protect their lead,” McAleer explained. “I know we’re drivers and it’s spur of the moment and the adrenaline rush and everything else, but this time last year when we were in that similar position, Lime Rock was a good race for us. But in the races that we were not as competitive, I certainly played a safer game than I’m usually used to just to protect the points that we got.

“We have been strong every year and there’s really no stopping it this weekend. I told Chad I’m truly committed to the win and if I get a shot at it or get an opportunity at it, to me there’s no risk factor and I’m going to take it.”

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