Monday, May 2, 2016 – Fresno, CA – It was a perfect weekend for the PR1 Motorsports team and drivers at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Although the car may not have posted the fastest times during the first free practice sessions, when the times mattered, drivers Robert Alon and Tom Kimber-Smith made sure the No. 52 PC machine was at the head of the pack.
“We came into the weekend nine or ten points behind in the championship lead, so knowing how difficult it is to cover that distance from last year, we came here just to have a solid weekend. We would have been happy finishing the weekend with any position on the podium,” explained Kimber-Smith.
“After free practice one, we weren’t ultimately the quickest, but we knew we had a fairly good car. Then seeing what Robert could do compared to the other Silvers, we saw pretty quickly that he was the fastest Silver, so I knew I had to step my game up, because I could see we had a lot of potential for the weekend.”
Alon showed everyone just how fast he was on Saturday when he put the car on pole for Sunday’s race with a time of 1:21.146.
“To be honest, I would have been a bit disappointed if Robert hadn’t put the car on pole, because I knew what pace he had, and that just goes to show how far he has progressed as a driver since his first race in the car at Daytona. He didn’t have a ton of experience before this year, and now he’s putting the car on pole and starting races, so I’m really pleased to see how well he is performing,” said Kimber-Smith.
Alon started Sunday’s Monterey Grand Prix and kept the car out front for several laps before getting stuck behind a car that was a lap down, which allowed the Performance Tech PC car of James French to take the lead. However, Alon continued to drive a smart race and never lost sight of the No. 38 PC car.
The PR1 Motorsports team performed a flawless pit stop under a full course yellow when Kimber-Smith took over driver duties, and left pit lane nose to nose with the Starworks car. Although the Starworks team had a slightly quicker pit stop, because Kimber-Smith took the outside lane leaving pit lane, he was able to take over P1 for the restart.
When the green flag came out for the final restart of the race, Kimber-Smith knew he needed to get as big of a gap as possible to second place. He had a gap of several seconds when he was told he needed to conserve as much fuel as possible in order to make it to the end of the race.
“The first three laps after the restart, I was trying to get as big of a gap as possible, and I knew I could maintain the gap. After a few laps Bobby (Oergel) came on the radio and said we need to start saving fuel, so I knew it was going to be difficult because the second place car was trying to hunt me down, and I was trying to slow up. So that was very difficult, and trying to keep the tires under you was a challenge, and then there was the traffic. So it was a difficult end of the race, but I couldn’t be happier with the result we’ve come away with, and now I’m really looking forward to Detroit.”
The victory at Laguna Seca marked the first win for PR1 Motorsports for the 2016 Weathertech Sportscar Championship season, but it was also the first sports car win for Alon.
“What a weekend. From putting the car on pole to battling all the way to the end of the race today and coming away with the win, it’s just incredible,” stated Alon.
“This is my first win ever. And it’s our first win as a team, so it feels really good and it’s great to see our hard work paying off. We’ve had little bits of bad luck here and there, but to see everything come together this weekend the way that it did is really great.
“After Long Beach, we lost a bit of ground in the points standing, so coming into the weekend, we were really just hoping to get a podium so that we could maintain the gap, but to come away with a win is amazing. We’re now tied for first in the points championship, so that puts us in a great position heading to Detroit in a few weeks.”
The next race for Alon, Kimber-Smith and the PR1 Motorsports team is the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park on June 4. Stay tuned for all the team and driver updates as we prepare for the final street course on the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship schedule in Detroit, Michigan.