Stephen Simpson had a busy and emotional weekend with the US IMSA race roadshow visited Lime Rock in Connecticut over the weekend – a good race in his Sport Production BMW, a stirring comeback in the Prototype Challenge Oreca Chevy and sad news from home.
“It has been a busy 2 days at the track racing in both the WeatherTech and the Continental Tire races,” Stephen admitted. “We made good progress with the JDC Miller Motorsport BMW and were able to overtake a few cars towards the second half – my teammate, Michael Johnson drove a great race and is making great improvements every time he is in the car.
“I drove the second half of the race and we ultimately finished sixteenth after the race stayed green the whole way without any caution periods, which is quite unusual!” Being disabled, US driver Johnson uniquely drives the BMW with hand controls, while Simpson pedals conventionally.
“I had a sticker on my helmet in memory of Gugs over the weekend. It will have a place on my helmet for the rest of my career.”
The Prototype Challenge proved a more demanding race for Simpson, Canadian co-driver Goikhberg and the Hi-Tide Red Line JDC Miller ORECA Chevrolet, but Stephen non the less drove an inspired race to wrest some most valuable points. “The PC race was a challenge,” Simpson admitted. “My teammate Misha had contact with a lapped GT car early in the race which resulted in heavy damage to the rear of our car.
“The JDC Miller Motorsports guys were once again fantastic in repairing the car so quickly, which meant we were able to get back out and finish the race to earn us a valuable points haul and we also managed to make up two more positions in the race by fixing it and getting back out.”
It was however a most emotional weekend for Stephen, who lost a great friend in Gugu Zulu, when the ‘Fastest Brother in Africa’ succumbed to altitude sickness while scaling Mount Kilimanjaro last Sunday. “My good friend Gugu Zulu has constantly been on my mind this week,” Stephen rued. “I am battling to accept what has happened and what a tragedy this is – it feels unreal that 2 weeks ago Gugu and Letshego were in my mind daily as I didn’t want to forget to make a donation for their Trek4Mandela trip before they left and now they are on my mind for another reason.
The next races in Stephen’s busy double-IMSA schedule are in 2 weeks at Road America.