South African US IMSA Prototype Challenge racer Stephen Simpson had a difficult weekend in Wisconsin when both the cars he raced at Elkhart Lake ended their races in accidents while trying to avoid bigger trouble on track.
Stephen did not get to race in the Continental Tyre Sports Production race after teammate Michael Johnson went off the toad in the JDM Miller BMW 228i as he dodged another spinning car after a promising run, but Stephen’s trip into the tyre wall six laps from the end of the Weathertech Prototype Challenge race was an even tougher pill to swallow as he was challenging for second at the time of the incident.
“Sadly that was another tough end to our day,” Stephen explained. “We were running a strong second for a lot of the of the race after my teammate Misha Goikhberg recovered well from an early spin, before we dropped back as the pit stops cycled.
“Then I overtook a few cars and got us back up to third and was challenging for second with 15 minutes to go, when the Starworks car running in second suffered a mechanical problem and crashed right in front of me and in my efforts to avoid having a big crash by hitting Renger, I ended up going off and slamming pretty hard into the tyre wall.
“I am gutted for the team and all their hard work – that’s a very disappointing end to what was going to be a strong result.”
Saturday’s result however served to shake up the Weathertech IMSA Production Challenge championship and despite the late crash, Simpson and Goikhberg were still classified seventh behind the championship leading Alex Popow and Renger van der Zande’s Starworks Oreca, while Tom Kimber-Smith and Robert Alon won the race in the PR1 Mathaisen Oreca.
That leaves Popow and van der Zande in the PC championship lead ,10 points clear of Kimber-Smith and Alon, with Simpson and Goikhberg third with three races still to run. “We owe it to the team to win again,” Stephen Simpson concluded. “We were on for a very good result, only for that to be nipped in the bud right at the end this weekend, now we need to take it all the way at the Virginia International Raceway in three weeks time.”