SA’s Stephen Simpson, Goikhberg & Miller overcome Watkins Glen challenges
South Africa’s Stephen Simpson, regular Russian-Canadian co-driver Misha Goikhberg and American Chris Miller overcame a challenging Sahlen’s Six Hour at the Watkins Glen when they brought the #85 PC class Hi-Tide Red Line JDC Miller ORECA Chevrolet home fourth in class.
Goikhberg, Miller and Simpson, who drove the last stint, struggled with a down on power engine throughout the race, but they plugged on regardless and the race came to them to see Simpson embroiled in a close three car tussle for the win. But it was not to be. ”I was third with five minutes to go when I had a right rear puncture and had to pit,” Stephen rued. “That was unfortunately the end of our fight and we dropped to fourth — a pity, because I think I could have otherwise held onto that podium.”
Watkins Glen however proved a tough race overall — Goikhberg drove first and had decent start and enjoyed a good first hour. “After about an hour into the race we noticed we were losing about 10km/h top speed,” Simpson explained about an issue, which became slightly worse as the race went on. “Chris also also did a good job in his stint and I jumped in the car with two hours and 45 minutes to go, but I really had to drive the wheels off it to be competitive.
“We were good in traffic and I was able to gain back some time there, which was good before the flat. “All in all, a fourth place finish was not what we were after — I really wanted to get back on the top step of the podium for my team mates and JDC Miller Motorsports and fortunately we only have to wait 7 days to get that done”
Simpson also raced a BMW 228i M-Sport in Saturday’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge with paraplegic teammate Michael Johnson, who drives with hand controls. “Michael did a great job given it was his first weekend racing and we were happy to finish the race, although we had to repair a hose that came loose, which put us down a few laps, so we’re looking forward to making more progress on this exciting project this coming weekend.”
“Today is July 4, so it’s a big day in America and it’s back home to Indianapolis, where I have about enough time to wash my race kit before I head to Canada on Wednesday for our next race weekend. Catch Stephen Simpson in action in both classes at Mosport Park – another former F1 circuit via live timing and streaming at www.imsa.com throughout the weekend of 1-3 July.