MotoIQ Staff Report
The Scion road racing team added another highlight to their 2009 season with yet another championship. The six-hour win at Thunderhill clinched the season championship for the Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC) series. The team won every race, save one, en route to the E1 class victory, for a near perfect record…impressive, especially in an endurance format series. The team also accrued more points (585) than any other team in any class in the series. The Scion tC race car was completely bulletproof even with the engine spinning 5,000 to 7,500 rpm for three to six hours straight.
The win adds to the highlight season for the team as they also end the season having won the national championship in Performance Touring as well as bringing Scion home their first pro win with the victory at Laguna Seca in World Challenge. Regular team co-driver Scott Webb was unable to make the season finale, but experienced racer Jeff Lepper filled-in to help the team bring home the race and the series victory.
Going into the race Gardner had planned for each driver to take two shifts, but after further thought the call was made to try to ironman it by doing only one driver change during the six hour race. The team was determined to gain every advantage possible. And with a crew that consisted of Sean Morris, John McNulty, Shawn Meze, and David Fredrickson, pit stops would be hammered out in lightening speed fashion.
During Practice, Gardner had run the fastest time in the E1 class, for both cars competing in the six hour as well as those registered for the 25 hour. Things were looking great. Qualifying took an unexpected turn, as teams were required to qualify during darkness. Four, big Pilot Automotive HID driving lamps were fitted to the front bumper, and Lepper went out and ripped off a 2:03.1 fast lap. It was fast enough to be on pole for the six hour and also put the team in the third starting spot for the E1 class overall.
During the two test days, the team did various things to help prepare for the big show, including calculating fuel economy, and figuring out the stop intervals. The decision was also made to have Gardner start the race and see if he could help Lepper by running over the three hour mark. Both drivers had agreed to the one driver change strategy, though neither knew how the long shifts would weigh on them. It was also a frigid weekend, with temps routinely below freezing. Just before the race started a wicked wind picked up, adding an additional chill factor.