Corsa Motorsports' GZ09 hybrid finished fourth on its first appearance at an American Le Mans Series race but, despite coming home behind the two all-conquering Acura LMP1 prototypes and the tried-and-tested Intersport Lola, there was still frustration in the camp.
The car had all the necessary hybrid power components onboard for the two-and-three-quarter hour event, but only ran under power from its regular four-litre petrol engine after a series of niggling problems, and came home 16 laps behind the winners.
“Obviously, this was a bittersweet race for us," lead driver Johnny Mowlem lamented, "I was pleased with the hybrid during qualifying and at the start of the race, and none of the new systems had any issues, but what we learned from this race will put us in a better position to come back stronger in the next one."
Team owner Steve Pruitt admitted that the car's debut had thrown up matters that would be addressed before its next outing, and admitted that he had believed a class podium to have been possible. Mowlem and co-driver Stefan Johansson finished six laps adrift of the Intersport entry, in 13th overall.
“Basically, it came down to a bunch of old parts," Pruitt conceded, "This was the second suspension failure of the weekend on a track where you should never have a suspension failure. The battery also failed and it was a brand new battery.
“It was old parts and old technology that cost us a podium finish. We need to look at the positive side and look at where we go from here. The car made it to the end of the race, albeit after we sat in the pits for a long time. The hybrid configuration made it difficult to make changes, but we decided to go with that configuration for good reason.
"We had to learn what happens to the individual components under race conditions – the G forces, the vibrations, the heat. This was really more of a test session for us. We wanted to get some real-time data we can use for future races. We feel we had the best possible set-up given circumstances, such as meeting minimum weight requirements. The systems are not small enough at this point to get the weight down."
The car experienced a minor problem with one of the rear wheels on lap 68, but engineers worked on the car for several minutes to ensure it was able to return to the track.
“We finished, which is what we were hoping to do," Johansson concluded, "We had a few dramas, which is a shame because we were looking at a podium. It was a good learning experience, and we said before the weekend started that we would treat this as a learning session. We learned a lot about what happened to the car this weekend, and we have a better understanding of what the car will do in a race situation."