Mixed emotions at ‘Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit’ while Jeroen Bleekemolen from ‘Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit’ hardly missed the podium with a 4th place at the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup round in Spa-Francorchamps, team mate Sean Edwards chose the wrong line at the start, achieved position 6 and had to hand over the lead in the driver championship. Khaled Al Qubaisi achieved another good result with position 18 at the challenging and iconic Belgian track and due to guest starters ahead of him secured two more championship points.
In a qualifying session full with yellow flags, neither Sean Edwards nor Jeroen Bleekemolen or Khaled Al Qubaisi managed to smash a completely free lap. Nevertheless, starting positions 3 for Edwards, 6 for Bleekemolen and 19 for Al Qubaisi were better than expected under these conditions.
Sean Edwards: “Unfortunately, my qualifying was destroyed by yellow flags, but my first lap fortunately was good enough for position 3. In the race, I actually had a good start, but no place to go in turn one, so I had to open the door for Tandy. I thought it would work out to get past him again, but then I got on the marbles and also had to let Jeroen and Rast pass by. Then Engelhart hit me later on, too. 6th place is obviously not what you hope for when started from 3rd place, but the championship is still wide open. So I am concentrating on the next race in Monza.”
Jeroen Bleekemolen: “We took a bit of a gamble in the qualifying and went out late, but my laps were compromised by yellow flags, too. My race was quite ok, but some of the other pilots cut off every single curve in every single lap. That makes me wonder and I hope that the stewards will have an eye on it. My car was good and it would have been good enough for the podium if everyone would have stuck to the regulations.”
Khaled Al Qubaisi: “The qualifying was strange. My wish came true and it rained, but then so much water fell down from heaven that we decided to wait a bit until it becomes less. And then I only had two flying laps that were affected by the yellow flags, too. Two laps are simply not enough for me to get into the rhythm. The race afterwards was pretty crazy. I had a great start and almost ran into Matthias Lauda. The track was completely dry, so I had to get used to the new breaking points. That took me quite some time, but then I caught up to the mid field. As there are some guest starters in front of me, I will get two championship points for position 18. I am happy with the result.”
tolimit head of motorsport and Supercup team manager Michael Seifert: “Not an ideal weekend for us. Unfortunately, Sean took the wrong line at the start. Jeroen, however, drove a good race, and could have even achieved a podium position. And Khaled again collected some championship points. With view to the team championship, the result is ok. We are still on the 2nd position and within reach of the title.”
tolimit managing director Hans-Bernd Kamps: “It’s not my style to be hypothetical. I am facing reality and this means that there are still three races to go where we can show our full potential and win the team and driver championship.”
More information on the team, results and photos can be found on www.facebook.com/tolimit and www.tolimit-motorsport.de
The race dates:
September 11, Monza, Italy
November 13, Abu Dhabi
NGT Motorsport came back from a weekend seemingly filled with adversity to earn a hard-fought third place in the Grand Touring Challenge (GTC) class in the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase at Road America, Round Six of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron.
Porsche Carrera Cup point leader Sean Edwards shared driving duties during the four hour endurance event with IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama standouts Henrique Cisneros and Carlos Kauffmann, taking the #30 NGT Porsche from its last place starting position to first at the white flag, as the team gambled on fuel strategy in an attempt to earn their first ALMS victory. In the end, NGT duplicated their maiden effort at Sebring with a third place finish.
The NGT Porsche had its share of difficulties in the Thursday afternoon and Friday practice, including breakages to the damper and the drive shaft. Edwards put the car on the pole and posting a new track record, but lost the time due to a rule that requires all three drivers have stints in the car during official sessions. Instead of starting from the front of the GTC pack, NGT would start from the back, 9th in class and 35th overall.
Carlos Kauffmann, who had only seen action in the car during the morning warm up, started the event and had his share of adventures on the race’s first lap.
“I had an awesome start and got up to fourth,” said Kauffmann, “but I got tapped by another car on the back straight, flat spotted the tire and went back to sixth – the third time this weekend that I’ve been hit on the back straight! I had a bad vibration in the car since the tire was damaged, but I got back up to third and spun by myself in 13, then got hit by the Ferrari in 13 late in the stint, which knocked my right mirror off.”
Kauffmann had the NGT Porsche back up to fifth position in class when he came in for tires and fuel on lap 35. Cisneros, the IMSA GT3 Platinum Cup class point leader, took over in fourth position, only to have stewards order him back into the pit lane to repair the mirror. The NGT crew did an outstanding job of replacing the mirror in do we have a time?, getting Cisneros back into the fray without going a lap down. Cisneros passed the Green Hornet car of fellow GT3 competitor Peter LeSaffre before handing off to Edwards on lap 58.
“I didn’t have any pressure out there, I was mostly by myself,” said Cisneros, “so I was able to stay relaxed and not use up that much energy. My only close call was a run off in the kink – the Aston Martin LMP came into the corner with me side by side and I didn’t have time to get back in.”
The team lost valuable seconds in the pit lane as the engine start problem that had dogged them at Sebring returned, as Edwards tried repeatedly to get the Porsche to refire after the stop. Once underway, Edwards made his way to the front of the field as one by one, the cars ahead peeled off for the pit lane.
Back in the pit box, an idea was forming; perilously close on fuel, the team made the decision to keep Edwards on the track instead of coming in for a splash and go late in the race, gambling on yellow flags assisting their efforts to keep the top spot. Knowing that only the second and third place cars were on the same lap, and that a pit stop would put them in third place anyway, the call was made to stay out.
Adding to the drama was the rapid approach of the two LMP leaders, running together in what would be the closest finish in ALMS history. The LMP leaders came through the GTC battle between turns 11 and 12 and allowed the #66 TRG of Spencer Pumpelly and the #54 Black Swan of Jeroen Bleekemolen to catch right up to the back of Edwards. Edwards took the white flag at the start of lap 96 in the lead, but with just four corners to go, the car began to sputter as the fuel ran low.
Trying to make his car as wide as possible, Edwards tagged Pumpelly exiting turn five, earning Edwards a 150-second penalty for avoidable contact. Bleekemolen and Edwards came together in 12 as the NGT Porsche ran out of fuel, with Bleekemolen going on for the victory, followed by Pumpelly. Edwards nursed the NGT Porsche home with a right rear puncture, but earn the team its second straight podium finish.
Edwards was understandably disappointed with the result, but happy to have helped earn the team its second podium finish in two races this season.
“We knew it would be tight on fuel and even though I was leading, I had to save fuel, so the other two cars caught up. I was on fuel override already and with three corners to go, it started cutting out. With two corners to go, it completely cut out. I tried to defend from Jeroen and we hit, it was a bit of a bad move from me, but I was trying to keep the win at all costs. We got a puncture, so we didn’t get the win and got the penalty besides. At least we got a podium but I’m gutted we didn’t get the victory, with only three corners to go.”
By the time the podium ceremony was complete, Cisneros was able to get past the disappointment to feel the satisfaction of the podium finish.
“It was an emotional roller coaster. We knew we could almost make it on fuel and decided to gamble just in case a yellow came out which would give us some breathing room. We thought the penalty put us back in fourth, but we got third, so we couldn’t be happier. The whole crew did a fantastic job, we had a great pace and I think it shows we’ll be a team to beat next year.”
NGT Motorsport team owner Ramez Wahab felt the gamble on fuel was the right call.
“It’s our second race in ALMS this season and we finished both on the podium.” Ramez said. “We are not in the championship hunt so we had two choices, either come in for a splash and hand the first place trophy away or gamble – stay out and fight for it. Worst case would be third place. Last lap, three turns to go we went from leading the race to getting a penalty for avoidable contact, a tire puncture and running out of fuel ending in a third place finish. I’ll take that, the drivers and crew did an awesome job and we can’t wait for the next one!”
After an almost perfect qualifying session on Saturday, ‘Team Deutsche Post by tolimit’ had to swallow a double dose of back luck at the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland round at the Nürburgring on Sunday. Despite of the pole position, the win of the starting duel and the lead in 22 out of 24 laps, Sean Edwards had to give up the lead in the penultimate lap due to a damaged tyre and saw the start-finish-line in slow drive on position 18 in the end. Outside of the points’ positions, he therefore had to hand over the lead in the driver standings to Nick Tandy. With a gap of only 4 points, however, the Brit still keeps all his title chances and the championship stays open for the remaining two races.
Christopher Mies, who was replacing regular driver Jeroen Bleekemolen this weekend, was fighting with the brake system after having achieved a fabulous 3rd position in qualifying. Being used to racing with ABS brakes in endurance cars, he braked too late in his 911 GT3 Cup race car in lap 18 and span off the track. Unfortunately, he touched some competitors and faced a drive-through-penalty therefore. In the end, he ranked 15th.
Despite of the bad luck, ‘Team Deutsche Post by tolimit’ maintains the lead in the team standings with a gap of 33 points.
Sean Edwards: “Well, this was a perfect race up until the last two laps. I had a great start and we had a car that was becoming better and better in the course of the race. Three laps to the end, I felt something on the back and when I crossed the line for the last two laps the left rear tyre exploded. We don’t know why yet and will sort it out. Of course, that’s disappointing, but with 4 points behind Tandy, everything is still possible and we will make sure to attack again in the next race in Oschersleben to achieve our goal to be on top at the end of the season.”
Christopher Mies: “This was my first standing start for three years and obviously it was not ideal as I lost some places. In the course of the race, I found myself on position 8 and while trying to overtake Uwe Alzen, I braked too late on the dirty side of the NGK chicane. That was definitely my fault. A big sorry goes to Jan Seyffarth and Nicolas Armindo. It was not my aim to finish the race like that.”
tolimit managing Hans-Bernd Kamps: “To sum it up: Good and bad luck are often close together. At the last Supercup race in Budapest it was on our side and today it left us. But everything is still open and our fans, partners and friends will agree that it is more exciting to leave the driver championship open until the very end. Meanwhile we are still dominantly leading the team championship and I am sure that we will achieve our aims in this regard.”
More information on the team is available on www.tolimit-motorsport.de and on www.facebook.com/tolimit.
The race dates:
September 18, 2011 DTM Oschersleben, Germany
October 23, 2011 DTM Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, Germany
With a double podium finish for the drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen and Sean Edwards on positions 2 and 3 respectively, ‘Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit’ finishes as the best team at the Hungaroring and impressively fights back the lead in the driver standings for Sean Edwards. The first Top 10 position for Abu Dhabi representative Khaled Al Qubaisi completes the weekend for the Lohne-based team.
Again a race under mixed weather conditions, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup round at the Hungaroring was shaped by a lot of position changes. Having started from position 7, Jeroen Bleekemolen was the one to profit the most out of it: “It was a very good race. At first I los t some positions at the start, as I didn’t have much grip, but soon after it all worked out well and I had some great overtaking manoeuvres. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take the win, but despite of this it was a perfect weekend for me and the team.”
Team mate Sean Edwards would have liked to take the two extra points for the pole position. However, having started the race from 2nd place and finishing 3rd, he impressively fought back the lead in the driver standings: “It was a crazy and action-packed race, but it was great fun. For some reason, I didn’t have the pace and couldn’t find enough traction in the corners, so I am lucky to finish on the podium. I just wanted to keep my competitors behind and collect as many points as possible, as I didn’t know that Rast was out. In the end, Jeroen caught me, we had a nice battle, but I didn’t fight him too much. It’s great to finally have two Abu Dhabi drivers on the podium.”
The first ever sports car racer from Abu Dhabi, Khaled Al Qubaisi, experienced an almost perfect weekend, too and achieved his first top 10 position despite of having started from 18th place: “I was hoping for rain and my wish came true. Today’s conditions suited very well for me. Everyone started on rain tyres. I had a good pace and the tyres were good, too. 10th place is my best result ever, so I am really very happy.”
tolimit head of motorsport and Supercup team manager Michael Seifert: “It was an almost ideal race weekend for us. We have not only been able to achieve two podium positions, but also fought back the lead in the driver standings while our biggest competitors seemed to have some problems. We will continue to build on this performance after the summer break.”
tolimit managing director Hans-Bernd Kamps: “A great success for us to be the best team at the Hungaroring! It’s a great feeling to harvest the fruits of our labour step by step. Congratulations to the team from Timo Rumpfkeil for a well-deserved race win! Now I am looking forward to the Carrera Cup race at the Nürburgring this coming weekend and the next Supercup round in Spa. And I can promise our friends and partners, that we will continue to work hard for the championship.”
Eurosport will show a summary of the race on July 31, at 5.30 p. m. in the frame of their “Motorsports Weekend Magazin”. Results and photos can also be found on www.facebook.com/tolimit or on www.tolimit-motorsport.de.
The race dates:
August 28, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
September 11, Monza, Italy
November 12/13, Abu Dhabi