Team Builds New Car In 24 Hours
Sebring, Florida - After a tremendous effort to build a complete new car after Thursday's unfortunate on-track incident with driver Ben Devlin and the B-K Motorsports BP Lola B07/46-Mazda MZR-R LMP2 car, a fuel cell leak was discovered prior to the start of the 56th running of the American Le Mans Series 56th Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Florida Fresh. Despite on-going work by the crew, the day ended prematurely due to an IMSA rule declaring any car not presented to pit lane more than one hour after the race start is excluded. Regardless, the B-K team and crew-members earned the well deserved respect of fans and their fellow competitors for their Herculean effort to make the race.
Said driver Gerardo Bonilla, "Not being able to start today's race is a huge disappointment to everyone involved and that includes all of our partners such as BP, Mazda and Yokohama. I have been waiting 16 years to start this race at Sebring. It was such a treat to be chosen to drive the Mazda. We are all heart broken, but this is a team that doesn't give up. We are prepared to move on and give them hell at St. Pete."
"Well certainly it was an emotional roller coaster," commented Mazdaspeed's John Doonan. "Following the incident, our first concern was Ben. Once we learned he was ok, the team huddled together and decided to build a car. We had all of the needed spares, so in about 24 hours they built a new car. We came into today's race day with extremely high hopes, we had met the challenge. The morning warmup was great, we had a slight issue with the brakes which turned out to be a blessing as we found the leak in the fuel cell most likely from the incident. So as to not expound on things we had to withdraw. I think the guys are a much better team than when they arrived here, they really rose to the occasion."
Offered B-K Motorsports team owner Bob Bach, "To say we are disappointed would be an understatement. The guys did an incredible job considering the task they faced. While it is a difficult start to the season, we look forward to St. Petersburg."
The next race of the prestigious American Le Mans Series will be April 4-5 for the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. For the second year in a row, the American Le Mans Series will hit the streets of St. Petersburg in the first of four races on a temporary street circuit along the Tampa Bay waterfront. Coverage will be live April fifth at 1:30PM EDT on ABC.
On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, you’ll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car. In fact, the largest road-racing class in the U.S. is the SCCA’s Spec Miata class, with over 1,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America’s racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazda’s involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world’s premier road-racing circuits, and the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing.
Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. For more information go to www.mazdausa.com
BP markets more than 15 billion gallons of gasoline every year to U.S. consumers through 13,000 BP and ARCO branded retail outlets and supplies more than four billion gallons of fuel annually to fleets, industrial users, auto and truck manufacturers, railroads and utilities.
BP is the single, global brand formed by the combination of the former British Petroleum, Amoco Corporation, Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) and Burmah Castrol. BP is a global producer, manufacturer and marketer of oil, gas, chemicals and renewable energy sources. For more information go to www.bp.com
About Yokohama Tire Corporation:
Yokohama Tire Corporation is the North American manufacturing and marketing arm of Tokyo, Japan-based Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd., a global producer and distributor of premium tires since 1917. Servicing a network of more than 4,500 points of sale in the U.S., Yokohama Tire Corporation offers a complete line of tires, including high-performance, light truck, passenger car, commercial truck and bus, as well as off-the-road mining and construction applications. For details on Yokohama’s environmental efforts, go to www.ecotreadsetters.com.
American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series is the premium brand of motorsport in North America, featuring high-tech sports cars from the most prestigious automobile manufacturers in the world. Its unique four classes of competition showcase exotic, open-top prototypes and sophisticated production-based GT cars, all competing on the track at the same time. The American Le Mans Series competes at the premier road racing tracks across North America and at selected temporary street circuits in major urban markets. With a 2007 television package that includes five network broadcasts on CBS and NBC and seven telecasts on SPEED, plus live broadcasts across Europe, the Series delivers a global marketing platform that is unmatched in motorsports. The Series, founded in 1999 by Georgia entrepreneur Don Panoz, represents a mirror image to the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s most famous and authentic automobile race. The American Le Mans Series features elite marques such as Audi, Porsche, Corvette, Aston Martin, Ferrari and Panoz, and premium brands such as Michelin, Yokohama, Kumho, Lowe’s, Shell and many others. To follow the series, go to www.americanlemas.com.