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Murcis @ Rd Atlanta update

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Road Atlanta: Lamborghini race report
Racing series ALMS
Date 2004-09-26

Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT proves endurance and reliability at Petit Le Mans

Road Atlanta, USA, 25 September 2004--/The Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT proved itself in at only its fifth race in the USA this weekend. Today's Amercian Le Mans Series (ALMS) event saw the two Murcielago R-GTs of Krohn-Barbour Racing on track in the ten-hour Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta, Georgia. After consistent performance in practice and qualifying, the number five car of David Brabham, Peter Kox and Nic Jonsson was holding third place with a 17-lap lead on the fourth position car when, five hours into the race, oil on track caused the car to come off into the gravel and resulting damage forced its retirement. The number six car of Tracy Krohn, Scott Maxwell and Joe Fox completed the 394-lap, 1000-mile endurance race in which a third of the field failed to finish.

Krohn-Barbour took delivery of its two cars and raced 'out of the box' for the first time at the Mid-Ohio round of the ALMS earlier this year. The team has fought for podium positions on a number of occasions and was less than a second off third place in its debut race, achieving a second place result on its third outing at Infineon Raceway, Sonoma.

"We have seen significant improvements to the car throughout the five ALMS races that Krohn-Barbour Racing has contested this season," commented Lamborghini's marketing manager Manfred Fitzgerald. "In tests undertaken by the team the weekend before Petit Le Mans, as well as in the cars' performance on track today, the Murcielago R-GT is proving its reliability and endurance abilities. We are seeing a consistent improvement in the car's overall speed due to new components and specifications provided by our development partner Reiter Engineering, resulting in the R-GT closing the gap on the Corvettes. The R-GT has proved its ability in its first year of customer racing in a series where teams have established their success over a number of years. The results of today prove we are heading in the right direction to achieve our objective of not only matching, but beating, the competition in series including the ALMS, FIA-GT Championship and JGTC."

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One of the Krohn-Barbour Racing Lamborghinis lasted the full nine hours and 35 minutes required to reach the chequered flag in the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, but the team's other car skated off the track on someone else's oil after five hours while running strongly in third place in the GTS class.

The #6 Murcielago R-GT of Scott Maxwell, Tracy Krohn and Joe Fox came home fifth in GTS, completing the greatest race distance yet by the Italian supercar in the its first year of competition. The result was a notable feat for, of the 35 starters in the gruelling event, eleven failed to last the distance.

"Petit Le Mans is a very demanding race," team manger Dick Barbour said, "Even though it's held on a fairly smooth track, it runs at a sprint-race pace the whole way through. To finish a ten-hour race with a new car is an achievement - the Lamborghini not only looks the part; today it proved it is the part as a long-distance racing car too."

Progress of the #6 car was interrupted when Maxwell, struggling with a soft brake pedal and difficult gearshift, spun off the track into the gravel trap on the outside of turn ten shortly after the three-hour mark. The crew lost around ten laps before rejoining but ran solidly until, with seven-and-a-half hours gone, Krohn had to pit to rectify an oil leak by having an oil cooler replaced, when another 20 laps were conceded.

"We had a few minor problems, but we made it through and I'm pleased it all held together," co-owner Krohn said, "The crew did a great job to keep us going today."

The #5 sister car of David Brabham, Peter Kox and Nic Jonsson was the faster of the two Krohn-Barbour Racing cars, moving up from fifth to third in class - and into the top ten overall - in the opening three hours of the race, pulling out 17 laps on the fourth-placed car.

Then the team's bad luck returned. Kox had the misfortune to arrive at turn ten a couple of seconds after an LMP2 Lola had its engine erupt, spilling oil on the track. With no way of avoiding the slippery surface, the Lamborghini spun lazily into a gravel trap at the circuit's edge, its wheels sinking in to the soft surface and its engine stalling. Corner workers towed the Murcielago out of the gravel, but the engine wouldn't restart. Kox got out of the car and poured the water from his cool-suit over the starter motor, thinking perhaps it had overheated, but still the car wouldn't start. Battery drained, the car was out.

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