SALINAS, Calif., May 14 - Perseverance paid off for Project Libra Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as its Radical SR10 finished the grueling 6-hour American Le Mans Monterey Presented by Patrón.
Marking the debut of the Roush Yates Ford-based V6 twin-turbo 3.2-liter engine in racing competition, the car placed fifth in the LMP2 class with drivers Andrew Prendeville of Raleigh, N.C.; Rusty Mitchell of Midland, Texas and Duarte Félix da Costa of Cascais, Portugal.
The event marked the Garysburg, N.C.-based team's first race in the series since 2010, the culmination of a great deal of development work and the beginning of what it hopes will be a successful season and future.
The team flirted with a podium finish during the race. The car was running in third place in class and Tenth overall at the halfway point but then it was forced behind the wall twice to repair the car's nose, which was damaged in an incident that did not bring out a yellow flag. The problem caused the engine temperature alarms to come on so additional time was lost to allow the engine to cool and to add some water, but luckily there was no damage to the engine and the team was able to make repairs and achieve its primary goal of finishing the race.
Prendeville qualified fourth in class and 13th overall in the 35-car field on Friday with a lap in 1:21.539 (98.809 miles per hour) for the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course near Monterey. When the race started he dropped back to fifth in class, and carefully and cleanly ran with some of the top GT drivers who were dicing for position.
Although he was being careful not to become involved in an accident, Prendeville was also able to improve his own lap times on almost every lap. The race was only 20 minutes old when he passed Oliver Gavin's Corvette and Stefan Mucke's Aston Martin to draw right behind the fourth-place LMP2 driver, Joe Foster in the Dempsey Racing Lola Judd No. 27, in the overall standings.
About 10 minutes later Prendeville completed his 19th lap in just 1:23.010, which stood as the entry's fastest lap of the race until the late stages of the event.
Prendeville spent the bulk of the rest of that stint chasing down Foster, closing the gap from some 5 seconds to just 1.39 seconds in the first hour and a half of the race. He moved from fifth in class to fourth in class when Foster pitted, and then he pitted too after about 1 hour and 47 minutes in the car for fuel, fresh Dunlop tires and to turn it over to Mitchell.