LunatiK Wins Petit Le Mans Split!!Posted by Special Events October 5, 2021 in
On Saturday October 2nd, at 12pm eastern time a team of LunatiK drivers as well as close friends from the Shenandoah Shine took part in the last time slot for the IMSA Petit Le Mans. 10 hours of racing at Road Atlanta were ahead of the team of 4 who were ready to take on the challenge. Rocking a special October Breast Cancer Awareness themed livery for the event powered by Martin Sports the team set off starting with qualifying. LunatiK driver David Bush was in the BMW M4 gt3 for qualifying putting the car into P4 in class for the start of the race. As the cars started to grid the race saw all three classes participate which were the LMP2, GTE Class, as well as the GT3 class that the team is participating in. As the LMP2 class started to follow the pace car the middle class GTE’s decided to hold back which caused a chaotic start for them that trickled into the GT3 class who instantly caught up to them as they bottle necked into the last chicane. Bush started off with some clean laps settling in nicely which saw him compete for the lead almost immediately. A spin towards the end of his first fuel stint let the lead group go by but held onto p4 still. Bush came into the pits on Lap 44 which saw the team take tires and fuel as well as swap drivers. A bold strategy as the drivers found out they were the only car that took tires after the first fuel stint in the lead group. LunatiK driver Collin McKenzie got in the car next with the team agreeing to run two fuel stints before taking tires and changing drivers again. About an hour into the race McKenzie took over and exited the pit lane in 6th position after the stop. Crucial time was lost on the pit stop but with 9 hours of race time remaining, the team stayed positive. McKenzie had a rough go of things in his first fuel stint. A little incident with a rambunctious LMP2 saw McKenzie get spun out and put into the tire wall sustaining some damage. The car had some damage to the aero as well as slightly to the steering but McKenzie pushed on. He unfortunately went off track again due to the steering correction in turn 1 but recovered the car and pushed on. He made it back to the pits after another 44 laps in P5 only losing one position but valuable time to the lead pack who were starting to get laps ahead of the LunatiK Racing team. The team decided to take the 2 and a half minutes of repairs during the fuel stop which corrected the steering of the vehicle. McKenzie came out for the second stint holding P5 as the competitors behind started falling laps down to the LunatiK team who was also losing laps to the lead pack. Only one more incident plagued the LunatiK driver who ended up coming back to the pits with the car unharmed in P4. Shenandoah Shine member James Coulibaly took over after McKenzie who came out with fresh tires in P5 just a lap down to P4. Coulibaly had a consistent pace through the first fuel stint and ended up passing P4 on the track while they took a pit stop. Towards the end of Coulibaly’s first fuel stint P5 caught up to him coming into the last chicane when the opposing car decided to shoot a gap that did not exist. This caused him to collide with a GTE class Corvette in front of him then came back across track and went door to door with Coulibaly. Coulibaly was able to maintain control of the vehicle and bring it around the last chicane with what looked like minimal to no damage but on some paint. P5 pit directly after this incident to take damage repair which let the LunatiK Shenandoah team build a gap to at least have a 4th place finish. Coulibaly finished his last fuel stint with relative ease without any incidents. It looked as if the entire field was thinning out as more cars piled up in the pits. Next in the Car was Vadim Petrov another Shenandoah Shine member who had unbelievable pace. Setting the fastest lap for the team during his first fuel stint he started to gain valuable time on the podium leaders. Petrov had arguably one of the best saves of the race which would have easily ended the race for the whole team. He ran wide coming into turn 5 which put him into the gravel, once through the gravel is an access road right before grass and a barrier. Petrov was able to get enough grip on the access road to rotate the car enough that once it hit the grass it missed the tire wall completely and was able to rejoin the track safely. An unbelievable save the if not had happened would have definitely put the team out of business with the speed he was carrying towards the barrier. Not phased he continued to push on with great pace making up valuable ground. He finished his last fuel stints with being able to gain a position while p3 had an incident and had to pit. LunatiK driver David Bush took over for the last three fuel stints of the race. The team was poised for a podium but wanted more and Bush put them in a position to do so. During his first fuel stint the team discussed taking left side tires in the first fuel stop as Road Atlanta wore the left side tires aggressively. With how much the left side tires wore and knowing there would be 3 fuel stints the team made the choice to take the left side tires so they would be fresher than the competitors. Bush came into the pits for the first fuel stop where he also took the tires. He continued on and lost some time to the two leaders but was calmed by the team reminding him that we will gain it back in the end. Bush continued to push with second place 3 laps ahead with the lead 5 laps ahead with just under two hours left in the race. As the second fuel stint started to come to an end the leaders ended up getting into some trouble on track which made them pit. Bush was able to make up enough time that even when he came in for his last fuel stop he came out in 2nd place only 3 laps down to the leader. Bush started to push during his last fuel stint knowing his left side tires would hold up to the punishment. First place had contact with another car which put them into the wall. With having to wait some time to get back on track, Bush was able to pick up another lap. With only being two laps down another off track occurred where Bush was able to gain another lap back. With the last 20 minutes Bush was able to get back on the same lap as the leader with only being 16 second behind. On the second to last lap as Bush was coming down the back straight into the last chicane the GT3 leader went off track coming down the hill to the front stretch. As he went to get back on track Bush was able to pass him and held a one second gap. The LunatiK Shenandoah team was now currently in first place in class with 2 laps to go with the leader one second behind after 10 hours of racing. Bush was able to bring it home for the team who went crazy with each other!
A huge thank you to Martin Sports and Shenandoah Shine for making this possible. A massive congratulation to the four drivers who pulled it off! LunatiK will putting a vehicle in the 10 hours of Suzuka which will be held the first weekend in November. More pictures of the event are in the gallery page.