Greg Liefooghe passed Andrew Carbonell for the Street Tuner (ST) lead with one hour remaining, and led the rest of the way to give Next Level European its first victory in the No. 83 Red Line Oil Porsche Cayman started by Eric Zimmermann.
Greg Liefooghe passed Andrew Carbonell for the Street Tuner (ST) lead with one hour remaining, and led the rest of the way to give Next Level European its first victory in the No. 83 Red Line Oil Porsche Cayman sponsered by Red Line Oil.
It was the third ST triumph for Liefooghe and first for Zimmermann, who joined BimmerWorld Racing midway through the 2014 season. During the off-season, Next Level European was formed as a satellite team by BimmerWorld. The pair finished fourth in the team’s debut in the 2015 opener at Daytona.
“We worked out our strategy really well,” Liefooghe said. “We came out of the pits in fifth after Eric did a fantastic opening stint. It was a matter of using the speed in the car to get to the front, and then we were able to pull a gap. Then I heard we needed to save a couple of gallons of fuel, and we finished the race with no fuel in the car. The key was getting the car up to the front and being able to conserve a little fuel.”
Liefooghe said he wasn’t concerned when he heard that Next Level European teammate Seth Thomas ran out of fuel on the final lap. “I was concerned with 45 minutes to go,” he said.
“I’m kind of new at this,” said Zimmermann. “It was only my 10th race as a professional driver. When (team owner) James Clay asked who my ideal co-driver would be, I said Greg Liefooghe, and I’m blown away at how it worked out.”
While Liefooghe was in control, winning by 5.485 seconds, a terrific battle shaped up for second during the closing laps. David Murry in the No. 64 Team TGM BMW 328i fought to hold off Stevan McAleer in the No. 5 CJ Wilson Racing ModSpace Mazda MX-5 started by Chad McCumbee. McAleer managed to slip ahead entering the final turn, but Murry fought back to reclaim the position by inches at the stripe in a fender-banging finish.
Murry and Ted Giovanis finished second 12 seconds behind, while McAleer and McCumbee ended up third. They were followed by Ethan Low and Jason Rabe in the No. 31 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman, and Jeff Segal and Wayne Nonnamaker in the No. 43 Team Sahlen Porsche Cayman.
Carbonell led after taking over the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 started by USMC Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer before being passed by Liefooghe. Carbonell ran second behind the Cayman before brake issues led to three off-course excursions in the final 12 minutes, resulting in a 10th-place finish.
Round 3 for the Continental Tire Challenge will be at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, May 2.