Simpson: Fourth at the Fourth

Stephen Simpson drives JDC-Miller ORECA LMP2 car at COTA IMSA race
Photo: Richard Dole / LAT USA

Circuit of The Americas is quite different from most of the tracks we race at in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. On the one hand, it features big, expansive run-off areas and on the other it is a fast, flowing circuit that’s technical in parts, gutsy in others.

Practice on Thursday and Friday went well. We were able to make some good changes to the car and come race day, I was feeling good about where we were at.

Going into the race, we were feeling confident we had good pace on new tires and thought we had the balance right on older rubber too. But as the day played out, it turned out we were lacking a bit on the used tires. Come the start of the race, the temperature was significantly hotter than the previous two days and this caused handling issues for us as the race progressed.

Apart from the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac, the field looked reasonably close and it was good to be able to get a little racey with some of the cars on track.

Stephen Simpson corners at COTA in JDC-Miller ORECA 07 LMP2
Photo: Phillip Abbott / LAT USA

Misha made a very good start and battled hard all the way through to our driver change. Thanks to his fighting drive, he handed the car over to me in fifth place, having started ninth on the grid.

Pit stops and strategy is proving to be really interesting this year. It is certainly not a case of each team following an obvious strategy, which adds intrigue. From what I saw, it seemed that each team chose a different time to do a driver change, put fresh tires on and do a full fill or short fill of fuel, which definitely made things more interesting.

Ultimately, we lost rear grip pretty quickly as the tires went away, meaning I couldn’t challenge as hard as I would have liked for that podium finish.

Nevertheless, it was another solid finish and great effort by the JDC-Miller Motorsport team and our solid start to the season continues.

Being the first non-factory team and first LMP2 car home again is not too bad, but we are all hungry for more as we head to Detroit and the Belle Isle circuit which is next up on June 2!

What do you think?