ALM Enduro Series at the Autobahn starts with a BANG (of Thunder)
The day started bright and sunny as all the teams took to the track for practice. There was plenty of reason for optimism as a great field had assembled for the 1st enduro of the 2015 season with a wide variety of cars including Radicals, Porsches, BMWs, a Mustang and of course the obligatory contingent of Spec Miatas.
The sunny skies wouldn’t last though as a brief shower right before qualifying was the 1st indication that weather could be a factor. As the teams took to the track for qualifying, the two Radicals from the Team Stradale garage set the pace with #18 taking the pole position with a time of 1:48.748 on a wet track.
As the starting time for the race approached and weather conditions much improved, the teams were ready to get this race started. At the drop of the green flag it was the #18 Radical of Ray Oral and Caio Lara quickly jumping into the lead and holding the number one position for the first 8 laps. At this point the first caution came out and the beautiful Mustang of Team Last Minute found the conditions not to their liking after an encounter with the armco wall at turn 14. After the clean-up it was smooth sailing for the #18 with the H&H Fall Line BMW of Tom Herb and Jim Hamman trying to keep pace. However the defending series champs of H&H would find the 2015 season not going their way. After a couple of spins they came into the pits for a check from the Fall-Line crew. It would go even further south for this usually tough to beat team, as they fell further out of contention.
With the #18 still leading, it was the Miata field that was dealing with the conditions best as a battle quickly developed between Area 51 Motorsports and the 2 ALM Positioners Miatas . This three way battle would rage on for the next hour as everyone kept one eye on the race and the other toward the increasingly threatening skies. At 6:23 the Race Director had finally seen enough and called for a red flag as lightning was very close. During the red flag a strong storm rolled through sending everyone for cover and the race was delayed for well over an hour.
Then the announcement was made that everyone was waiting for-“It’s time to go racing again!” Although no work on the cars was permitted during the red flag delay, teams were allowed to change to wet tires and make a driver change. It was also announced that the race would end at 8:30 sharp. This was key information as teams quickly devised a new strategy for the sprint to the finish. With rain still POURING but the threat of lightning gone, the green flag flew once again. This time the advantage that the Radicals and GT field typically enjoys was neutralized. The Miatas were coping with the horrendous conditions much better while getting great fuel mileage under the slower pace.
Finally on lap 40 the Radicals had to pit for fuel and would never make up the lost time. Area 51 Motorsports would take over the lead and never look back as they took the checkered flag with over a minute lead on the #50 ALM Positioners Miata of Brett Scroggin and Amy Wittkamper.
Although the celebration was moved indoors, as everyone had enough of the rain, Jamie Gleitsman and Rich Jaeger of Area 51 Motorsports were more than happy to take the top step of the podium while Brett Scroggin and Amy Wittkamper driving the #50 ALM Positioners Miata and Doug Grunnet with Tony Kester driving the #55 ALM Positioners Miata took second and third respectively.
This unlikely sweep of the podium by 3 Miatas over a field that is historical dominated by the faster more powerful Radicals and GT class cars proves once again inclement weather and rain is the equalizer. All the teams were already discussing that the Miatas won’t have it so easy in the next round, the September 19, 5 Hour Into the night challenge.
Congratulations to all the teams for making this a great event despite trying conditions, but at the end of the day, isn’t that what endurance racing is all about.
For more information on the ALM Positioners Enduro Series at the Autobahn go to www.autobahnenduro.com
Sept 19 5 Hours Autobahn South Track
Nov 1 12 Hours Full Track
All paid entries come with 2 free days of testing prior to the event.