The second and final street circuit race of the year is over for the Pirelli World Challenge. Unlike last year’s blood bath, Bentley made it through this time relatively unscathed. Coming off a top 10 finish and Hard Charger Award on the streets of St. Petersburg last month, Bentley Team Absolute’s drivers, Adderly Fong and Andrew Palmer, spent the last month itching to get back behind the wheel.
“Long breaks from racing are always hard to deal with,” said Andrew Palmer, driver of the #87 Bentley Continental GT3. “It was nice to get back home for a bit, but after a week you feel the need to be behind the wheel. St. Pete gave us really usefully information. In race one we didn’t quite nail the set up and it made us really think about how to make the car better for street circuits. I think the baseline set up we have developed should put us in a good starting spot.”
Adderly Fong, driver of the #88 Bentley Continental GT3, also spoke about the month-long break. “It’s a strange feeling to have so much time in between races. In Hong Kong, I have been attending a lot of racing related events and the usual training and racing simulation to prepare for Long Beach and Barber.”
“We’ve been working on maximizing the tires in the race and I found a big step in making the package work in the second race of St. Petersburg. I hope to carry this knowledge forward to this weekend at Long Beach and to make even further improvements with the team and to our Bentley Continental GT3.
Come Saturday, Palmer would qualify 7th in class, Fong would start Sunday’s event in 12th. At the start, Fong was caught behind the last turn of the street course as the green flag waved making it difficult to gain many positions. Palmer, however, shot up to fifth place very quickly.
From there, Palmer would overtake one more car to remain in fourth for most of the race. With 10 minutes left in the 50 minute sprint race, Palmer was running fifth in the #87 Bentley Continental GT3 when he spun out in a patch of oil left by a competitor.
His beautiful Bentley would avoid the walls of the narrow street course but as the checkered flag dropped he was left in tenth place, 9th in class. Fong would finish one spot ahead of his teammate in 8th place in GT.
“I think it’s important to be up front [at Long Beach], because they throw the green flag really early and if you’re in the back, you’ll be caught in the hairpin,” said Andrew Palmer ironically (this is exactly what happened to his teammate.)
Palmer continued, “Our start was crucial and we were able to go from eighth to fifth. For the restarts, it was all about timing. The Bentley is really fun on the restarts with the turbo and the boost levels; you just build it up and let’er rip!”
Overall, the drivers were satisfied with their effort and the team was happy to not be dealing with a wrecked car. “It wasn’t a rewarding drive for me, but it was the best result so far. The bright side of the weekend is that we were able to keep it off the walls and made up some good positions that way,” said Fong.
The team now heads from California to Alabama for next weekend’s doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park. That event will be live streamed at world-challenge.com.
Source: Absolute Racing
Photo Credits: Bentley Motors, Absolute Racing, Pirelli World Challenge