Tuesday, March 21, 2017

James Cox and John Tecce finished seventh in Friday’s Visit Sebring 120 race to conclude the second round in the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.  Mirroring their Daytona approach, the BGB Motorsports team again executed a perfect race strategy and quick pit stops to put the #38 Porsche Cayman MR spec GT4 in top-10 contention.  As for many teams on pit road, the second half of the race was a strategy gamble and BGB played the hand perfectly on pit road choosing to come back for more fuel and not take new tires with 40 minutes remaining.  After some late race shuffling among competitors, the BGB entry was the third highest finishing Porsche Cayman, as well as the top finishing GT4 spec Cayman MR.  As a result of their two top-10 finishes, the #38 Porsche Cayman is eighth in the 2017 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Team Championship, only three points shy of fifth place.

In Friday morning’s 15-minute qualifying, Cox placed the #38 in 11th for the start of the race, after running his fastest lap ever around the 3.74 mile circuit with a time of a 2:15.1; the team called a last minute audible Friday morning and chose to send Cox out on new tires in the preceding practice session so that everything would be warmed up when it came time to qualify minutes later.  The prior day’s cold weather conditions required four to five laps for tire temps to come up and the team did not want to risk a red flag situation early in the session that could potentially lead to their driver qualifying further down in the order if the session never resumed.

When the green flag fell on Friday afternoon, Cox settled into a groove for his opening stint to run an error free 40 minutes.  As he was holding ground in the early stages, a competitor tried a late move down the inside in turn 7, hitting the #38, but Cox protected his Porsche Cayman before it was time to hand it over to Tecce during the first of two caution periods of the race.  The leaders chose not to pit at the beginning of the caution period fearing they would violate the 45 minute mandatory drive time requirement, but with some quick math from the BGB pit box, the decision to pit Cox for a driver change along with fresh Continental Tires and a full load of IMSA VP 100 fuel was the correct one to make.  When Tecce rejoined the fray and the pit stops cycled through he was in third place thanks to the team’s work on pit road.  Following the restart and settling back into 8th eighth place as the leaders came through, the mission was to run without error and try and achieve another top-10, just like at Daytona.  The strategy was going according to plan before another caution period came out during the final 20 minutes, but by that time the #38 Porsche had already visited and left pit road with enough fuel to finish.  Tecce had more to add:

“We are elated to finish seventh because the rules are still taking shape for the series and Jim and I are still just two guys that usually sit at a desk Monday through Friday; we are rather happy to have a pair of top-10s in a series that features some of the most competitive road racing in North America.  Jim did great and I am very proud of the BGB team for the car they prepared and for their giving us a great finish at Jim’s home track in front of his local fans.  Without our amazing crew, none of this would have been possible.”

The Sebring 120 will air on FS1 on Sunday March 26, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.  The IMSA.TV broadcast will be available online at once the Fox Sports broadcast airs this Sunday.