24 Hours of LeMons: 'Shine Country Classic, day one recap

cordoba

The opening day of the opening race of 24 Hours of LeMons’ 2014 season has passed and after attrition claimed its share, our predicted frontrunner was indeed leading the field. RC Spiders’ Mercedes 190E closed the day up six laps from the Burningham Racers Porsche 944, which has so far avoided LeMons’ traditional Stuttgart hex. In Class B, Halfast Racing’s B-Body Chevy Impala leads by a tidy eight-lap margin from Squirting Coronas’ Mercedes 300E, which has quietly run a clean race. In Class C, Knoxvegas Lowballers’ Duratec V6-powered Geo Metro has so far stayed together and leads by four laps over the glacially paced Chevy Chevette Diesel from Zero Budget Racing. Follow the jump for a bit more analysis of today’s session and a look forward to tomorrow’s.

 

RC Spiders Mercedes was the only team to execute a two-stop strategy over the session’s seven and a half hours. Clocking times right around the 2:00 mark all day and staying out of mechanical and black-flag trouble will take a team far, and they’ve ridden that so far to a fairly comfortable lead. With seven more hours of racing Sunday, expect them to run just three stints again. If they execute the way they did today and their 190E stays together, the teams chasing don’t really have a prayer.

The Class B leader Halfast also appeared to be running a two-stop strategy and were consequently running second overall for much of the day until late trouble cost them 10-15 minutes off the track. That knocked them down to P6 overall, but they returned still leading the class.

If you’re interested in how stint lengths have played out in the Top 10, here is how the Top 10’s lap counts per stint played out, roughly (There’s some level of estimation, as it can be hard to keep track of and differentiate between fuel stops/driver changes, mechanical trouble, and penalty box visits even if you’re at the track).

Pos. Team Stint 1 Stint 2 Stint 3 Stint 4 Stint 5 Lap total
1 RC Spiders 69 75 68     212
2 Burningham Racing 42 55 57 52   206
3 Hung South Racing 64 73 68     205
4 Casino Racing 65 48 71 20   204
5 Zero Energy Racing 58 54 52 38   202
6 Halfast Racing 68 69 64     201
7 Rolling Chicane Racing 41 39 39 40 40 199
8 Mom’s Friendly Racing Company 50 59 51 38   198
9 Ghetto Motorsports 42 56 48 52   198
10 Monkey See Motorsports 56 52 46 43   197

A two-stop strategy for Sunday’s seven-hour session will require 2:20 stints, which should come out somewhere in the 65-lap range. Conceivably, four of the Top 10 could run on two fuel stops tomorrow. Of course, running long stints doesn’t necessarily guarantee great finishes; the drivers will have to run consistently throughout those long runs. Zero Energy (Honda Del Sol) and Rolling Chicane (Honda Civic) both look like models of consistency despite shorter stints and Ghetto Motorsports took a couple of black flags that, combined with six penalty laps for a new turbo setup on their Mazda RX-7, has put them at the bottom end of the Top 10.

Halfast leads significantly in Class B, but should they stumble, no fewer than six cars are still in the hunt:

1 Halfast Racing 68 69 64     201
2 Squirting Coronas 55 71 34 33   193
3 Knoxvegas Lowballers 44 37 41 43 27 192
4 Frankenstein Motorworks 33 84 62 10   189
5 Mullet Racing 29 43 36 34 47 189
6 PBR 49 49 43 47   188
7 Junk Male Racing 37 42 42 36 31 188

It’s interesting to see how the stints add up. Notably, Frankenstein Motorworks’ massive 84-lap stint gained nearly 20 positions while the Honda Accord’s times during that stint were respectably in the 2:05 range. Neither Squirting Coronas nor Knoxvegas Lowballers (Ford Contour SVT) are too far out of the Top 10, so a clean run Sunday could crack the top of the field. The only two Subarus (PBR and Junk Male) in the field start the day with the same lap total; I have a feeling the winner of that micro-duel will come down to who survives better.

Class C has largely boiled down to a two-car race between a fast-but-unreliable mashup and a slow-but-steady veteran.

C Pos.             0
1 Knoxvegas Lowballers 41 29 39 29 41 179
2 Zero Budget Racing 52 48 47 27   174

The Lowballers’ Metro has turned sub-2:00 laps, which is nearly 15 seconds faster than the Zero Budget diesel Chevette’s best time. The diesel unsurprisingly has turned better fuel economy numbers, but it simply can’t keep pace with the V6 Metro unless the Lowballers’ car breaks.

Elsewhere in Class C, NSF Racing’s Mitsubishi Cordia is running alarmingly well and the team’s “turnkey” Plymouth Fury for Sputnik even turned a few laps after a 13th hour disc-brake swap. Zero Budget’s second car, a long-awaited Chrysler Cordoba, suffered from fuel contamination of the ancient gas tank, but it should return to the track Sunday to showcase its rich Corinthian leather in a most-Montalban-esque manner.

Languishing near the bottom of the timing sheet, unfortunately, is Speedycop & The Gang of Outlaws’ two-car attempt to win the overall. The team’s Toyota MR2 has struggled with ignition issues while the Civic hatchback has struggled with everything. Both cars are making their debuts, so some teething troubles were probably to be expected.

Saturday’s opening hours saw former winners Save the Ta-Tas sprinting to the front and lapping three-quarters of the field before their car remembered it was a Camaro and broke accordingly. Landshark again proved their Acura Integra’s fuel-sipping capability by turning an 81-lap stint after trouble slowed them in the race’s opening laps. Further issues knocked them out of contention, but three-hour stints are nothing to scoff at.

Our friends at Grassroots Motorsports Magazine struggled with black flags after rising up to the Top 10 in the race’s opening hours. They’ll be looking to improve in their bright yellow Mazda Miata. You can follow their race via live telemetry from Autosport Labs here.

Look for a race recap here early in the week. Here are the class standings at the end of Saturday:

OVERALL

1. #201 RC Spiders (Mercedes 190E) – 212 Laps
2. #150 Burningham Racing (Porsche 944) – 206 Laps
3. #172 Hung South Racing (VW Golf) – 205 Laps
4. #771 Casino Racing (Mazda Miata) – 204 Laps
5. #6 Zero Energy Racing (Honda Del Sol) – 202 Laps
6. #58 Halfast Racing (Chevy Impala) – 201 Laps, Class B
7. #41 Rolling Chicane Racing (Honda Civic) – 199 Laps
8. #236 Mom’s Friendly Racing Company (Honda Civic) – 198 Laps
9. #556 Ghetto Motorsports (Mazda RX-7) – 198 Laps
10. #35 Monkey See Motorsports (BMW E30) – 197 Laps

CLASS B

1. #58 Halfast Racing (Chevy Impala) – 201 Laps
2. #124 The Squirting Coronas (Mercedes 300) – 193 Laps
3. #44 Knoxvegas Lowballers (Ford Contour SVT) – 192 Laps
4. #79 Franksentein Motorworks (Honda Accord) – 189 Laps
5. #211 Mullet Racing (Chevy Camaro)- 189 Laps
6. #42 PBR (Subaru Outback) – 188 Laps
7. #619 Junk Male (Subaru Legacy) – 188 Phar Lap

CLASS C

1. #91 Knoxvegas Lowballers (Geo Metro) – 179 Laps
2. #2 Zero Budget Racing (Chevy Chevette Diesel) – 174 Laps
3. #3 Idle Clatter (Mercedes 300 Diesel) – 158 Laps
4. #1 NSF Racing (Mitsubish Cordia) – 155 Laps
5. #44 Mock Grass Racing (Kia Sephia) – 154 Laps

[Photo: tSoG]

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