Incredible team feat sees SA’s Simpson & Goikhberg to shock Belle Isle points
South Africa’s Stephen Simpson and Russian-Canadian co-driver Misha Goikhberg may have come away with slim points pickings from Saturday’s Belle Isle Detroit IMSA PC street race, but that they scored any points at all is down to some incredible teamwork and an almost fairytale story as the #85 Hi-Tide Red Line JDC Miller ORECA Chevrolet crew pulled off the remarkable feat of totally rebuilding the ORECA Chevrolet in two hours before the race start.
The trouble started when Goikhberg was involved in a warm-up accident that initially looked set to put the championship-leading Minnesota-based team out of the race. Then it became apparent that rivals BAR1 Motorsports had a spare chassis on hand and the teams quickly came to an agreement that allowed JDC Miller to lease the spare tub for the weekend.
There were just two hours left before the start but the JDC Miller lads took on the challenge despite the fact that the chassis was of an older specification and that IMSA rules required everything else to be transferred across from the damaged JDC Miller tub in an incredible effort that saw the rear-end of the JDC-Miller car mated with BAR1’s tub in record time with the assistance BAR1 team rivals including team owner Brian Alder.
They missed the start but the combined effort was enough to see Goikhberg on track and although he initially stopped on his out lap and later ran into the barriers, he was able to drive the minimum race time and quite amazingly bring the JDM Miller Oreca Chevrolet home a provisional sixth to claim those vital championship points for him and Simpson.
“We literally stripped our car down and rebuilt another car out of it in the space of two hours,” Indianapolis-based South African Stephen Simpson explained. “It was not a simple task to either build or drive — the steering column on the BAR1 car is or instance opposite to how it is on ours, so Misha ended up driving with the steering wheel upside down and the paddles on the wrong sides and I can tell you for a fact that it was a real handful to drive.”
“The steering wheel was upside down and the fuel pumps in that car were wired differently,” JDM-Miller team co-owner John Church added. “So the reserve pump shut off when Misha finally got out there and not having telemetry, we had no idea what was going on, but we figured it out and then stopped every 10 minutes to keep the fuel cell full. “It was a mess; there was no way to fix it and I guess it’s frustrating to have days like this, but we got those points, so it could have been worse.”
The JDM Miller guys may have lost the points lead to PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports outfit, which finished third on Saturday, but those sixth-place points could very end up playing a vital part in the outcome of the championship come October and every single one of them can be put down to an incredible piece of teamwork and cooperation. “I’m sure come Road Atlanta at the end of this year, we’ll be thankful that we made the effort today.” Stephen Simpson concluded.
The IMSA PC championship travels to the six hours of Watkins Glen New York next on the eve of Independence day 3 July.
Images – John Dagys