Kevin Gleason was crestfallen and exhausted following a tumultuous outing at Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park circuit, concluding his spell with BimmerWorld Racing in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (23-24 May).
The Johnstown, Pennsylvania-based racer and teammate Corey Fergus utilised Friday’s (23 May) two free practice sessions to fettle the setup of their BMW 328i and found a good balance in dry conditions to close to within half a second of the Street Tuner (ST) class-leading Mazda MX-5 of Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee.
Inclement weather forced race organisers to cancel qualifying and the starting order for Saturday’s (24 May) race was determined by championship points, putting Gleason and Fergus mid-pack.
Nevertheless, the pairing had shown solid pace and consistency during race simulations in free practice and, all being well, were sure to make up positions during the 150-minute contest on the picturesque Lime Rock Park track.
Fergus took the start and received a hefty shunt from behind that propelled him into the rear end of another competitor as the 33-car field concertinaed at Turn 1.
Undeterred and with only cosmetic damage, the Ohio racer continued on his way and regularly churned out strong lap times to break into the top ten before handing the reins to Gleason during a full-course caution 45 minutes into the race.
Gleason emerged from the pits only for a severe steering issue to befall him.
An unscheduled stop to resolve the problem was unsuccessful and resulted in a drive-through penalty for a pit-lane speed violation, while a snapped anti-rollbar amplified the handling issues and the 27-year old’s misery.
Life was extremely difficult behind the wheel and negotiating Lime Rock’s series of high-speed turns lap after lap was an arduous task, although Gleason defiantly called upon all of his strength and energy to wrestle the ailing BMW to the finish, albeit in an underwhelming 24th position.
Nevertheless, Gleason will look back on his time competing under the BimmerWorld Racing banner with fondness, saying: “It was such a disappointing race and certainly wasn’t the way I hoped to end things with BimmerWorld Racing, a team that’s consummately professional and well-organised. Genuinely, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the team and I’ve learnt so much just from working with them, but I’m now looking forward to moving on to some other opportunities.
“To get caught up in an incident at the start was unfortunate, but Corey (Fergus) had great pace throughout and did a phenomenal job. I felt problems developing almost as soon as I jumped in the car with 45 minutes completed. It felt like a powersteering failure, but the team was unable to solve it and I had to use all my strength to make the car turn, especially through Lime Rock’s four fast right-handers. It was very difficult, particularly as the race was completely uninterrupted. I was exhausted when I got out of the car, but I was determined to finish and score as many points for my teammate as I could.”