Simpson: Detroit Street Fight

Stephen Simpson leads IMSA Prototype group in JDC-Miller ORECA on Belle Isle
The No. 85 ORECA 07 of JDC-Miller Motorsports racing on Detroit's Belle Isle. | Photo: Jake Galstad / LAT Images

Having been acquainted with both the Belle Isle podium and the unforgiving walls, the JDC-Miller Motorsports team have experienced the highs and lows of Detroit in the past, but we knew exactly what we were going for this year as we arrived to the slightly less bumpy track!

I felt that we missed out on podium contention last time out at COTA because we did not have the pace at the end of our stints on old tires. For Detroit, our setup was all focused on making sure we didn’t drop off when the tires got older.

Stephen Simpson makes driver change in JDC-Miller LMP2 at Detroit
Photo: Michael L. Levitt / LAT Images

Mikhail made a great start and muscled his way into second place from third on the grid. He drove mightily throughout his stint. When the first full-course caution came out after about 30 minutes, he was confidently holding third.

Due to the closeness of the field, the pit stop is always going to be a nail biter. It is amazing to say it but a mere seven stationary seconds for us was the difference between maintaining this position and exiting the pits in seventh!

Simpson Driving in ORECA 07’s Detroit Debut

When I jumped in, I knew I was going to have to overtake the guys ahead on track.

With it being a 100-minute race, the pit-stop strategy is pretty straightforward. We knew we were going to have to make one more stop for fuel and that everyone else was going to have to do the same.

The racing was hard on track, but that’s what I expected. We are up against some very good drivers, teams and manufacturers and there is a lot on the line.

JDC-Miller ORECA, Mazda DPi, 3GT Racing Lexus in Belle Isle Turn 1
Photo: Richard Dole / LAT Images

Having followed the No. 5 car for what seemed like most of the race, I was determined to have a go at getting by. Unfortunately for me it didn’t quite work, which meant we would finish P6.

The JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA-Gibson was fantastic and, as always, the team gave us a solid race car. We are continuing to learn about our car and make sure we go to each race weekend in better shape than the previous.

Roll on to Watkins Glen!

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