Alex Brundle runs out of luck as Sebring podium chance passes by
06:30 27 March 2014
Alex Brundle can count himself unlucky not to have stood on the podium at Sebring as the King’s Lynn racer avoided trouble throughout the 12-hour event only to watch his team leader Olivier Pla bumped down to fourth place in the dying minutes.
“Unfortunately we just got shuffled out at the end,” said the philosophic local racer.
“As everyone knows who watches this type of racing, that is often what it comes down to. Sometimes, that’s just how it is. However, I am proud of everybody on the team.”
The Oak Racing driving strength was completed by Gustavo Yacaman and the French squad looked very strong in testing with Pla narrowly beaten to pole position in the final minutes of qualifying on the bumpy Florida circuit.
Facing a 12-hour event keeping out of trouble and the pits is key to a strong run, which all three drivers managed, allowing them to be placed in the top-three positions for most of the event. However, the race was blighted by a host of crashes, resulting in hours of cautions periods and causing the team problems.
“The stop-start racing with so many cautions made the race very difficult for us because we were struggling with the tyre temperature,” said Brundle.
The team used all of its Le Mans experience to keep the Nissan-powered Morgan in the hunt and out of the pits, confirmed by Brundle. “We were very, very strong in the pits, which is positive and we ran within the top three for a long time,” he said.
The end of the final caution period left the field a 20-minute sprint to the chequered flag with Pla at the wheel of the OAK Racing entry.
“On the last restart, I was trying to fight for positions and pass Ryan Dalziel,” said Pla. “However, I had to lift because of a GT car and I lost positions. I was right there to fight at the end, but came up a little short at getting the job done.”
Pla’s bold move on second-placed Dalziel at the first corner left him compromised for the next corner, resulting in him losing a podium place with the Oak entry just three seconds away from third and 12 seconds from victory as nine cars remained on the lead lap after 12 grueling hours of racing.
For Brundle it was straight back on a plane to Norfolk before heading off to test in Spain in preparation for Le Mans in June where the local racer is hoping to go one better than last year’s second place in the LMP2 category.