Overcoming obstacles was the name of the game this past weekend as TNT Racing's Gold team worked from the back toward the front over the course of 24 hours at Spa-Francorchamps. Starting in the middle of the field with a 19th position qualifying effort, Benjamin Lindsay began the day, struggling to keep grip and work forward. A course-cut penalty on lap 2 pushed the car back to 39th, but Lindsay pushed forward to the 19th position again prior to the first stop.
With some 22 stops remaining, and planning on double-stinting tires, the first look at double-stinting was unsuccessful as grip appeared to be at a premium. Exiting the pits in 7th place, Lindsay fell 13 spots in rapid succession, with a premature pit-stop required due to failing pace and dangerously low tire wear. Exiting the pits, still with the car clean and fast, Paul Darling took over and was able to make passes and push forward.
Off pit cycle, but with the car coming alive, Andy Runolfson and Paul logged solid lap times to eek further forward, handing the car off to Sam Clark for the evening shift. Sam's lap times matched the leaders most of the way, holding station and then creeping forward to the top-10. Unfortunately, around the mid-point of the race, a lapped car spun in turn 1 with his nose against the inner wall - a blind corner and a tough predicament. In a moment of sheer stupidity, the lapper reversed onto the racing line directly in front of Sam as he was swinging the car around the first blind corner. The front of the car pounded the right door of the lapped car, sending the lapper tumbling off the racing line. For TNT's race, all hope seemed lost for a moment, until repairs finished and the car again came to life.
Sam, Paul, and Benjamin Lindsay cooked off some tremendous lap times to pull the leader back by a full minute toward the end of the race. Unfortunately the 6 minute gap was only shortened by that minute, with TNT Racing Gold finishing 5 minutes and 2 laps down in 6th. The last 6 hours were truly impressive. Paul, Sam, and Ben took a busted car with at least a 1/2 second per lap worth of damage and passed from 9th to 6th, clear of 7th by 20 seconds. Finishing with 205 points on the race, TNT Racing Gold finished 24th overall on the iRacing service for the event - a truly remarkable accomplishment considering the trials the team faced.
A big thanks to RaceBoss and ARD Tuning for their support and congratulations to all team drivers and reserves for the incredible performance.