TNT Racing Wins 24hrs of Daytona!


As the sun came up over the track at Daytona early Saturday, TNT Racing Carbon made its way on track at the front of the field for 24 hours of racing in the Mercedes AMG GT3. Though it was sunrise in the eastern United States, it was evening in Australia, where former World Championship Series (WCS) driver Samuel Clark punched this work card and began logging stellar lap times. Paul Darling and Scott McIntyre would split time following the 3 hours of practice and lapping from Samuel.

 

David Williams made a surprise return to the team and to the track after an extended absence. His lap times show why he was lauded as a potential WCS contender a few years ago, though various family and work constraints impeded his progress toward the black stripe. David's lap times held TNT Racing Carbon solidly in the top 5, though an errant pit-stop maneuver caused a drive-through penalty, pushing the team 2m 16s down after one third of the race was complete. This issue, coupled with slight front damage sustained by Scott McIntyre quickly humbled the team as if the wind got knocked out of us. Scott mentioned "I don’t know why the DP slowed so much. There was a sizable gap between us and I hit my brake marker just like I had been all race long, both in and out of traffic. As I panic braked, the rear of the car started to slide out on me so I lost the ability to steer around him. Sorry guys."

 

With the car repaired - as much as was available - times still seemed 1/2 second slow due to aero deficiencies, but the mood quickly changed as TNT's race pace picked up toward the middle of the race. In P4, 2 minutes behind, former WCS drivers Benjamin Lindsay and Samuel Clark buckled down and took small chunks of time out of the leader approaching 5 hours to go. 

 

P3 took a spin into the wall in the chicane on the back of the course, leaving TNT Racing Carbon in P3, only 1m 45s behind the leader...and closing! Off strategy and working toward a fuel-save option, the team momentarily took the lead and began to distance themselves from the competition. At the 20-hour mark, Ben and Sam decided to take the car to the finish line, with Sam crunching out session-fastest laps time and time again, TNT pulled to within 20s of the leader.

 

With just 3 1-hour stints to go, strategy was going to play a major role. Convinced that the leader was unable to make the finish line on 2 stops, and requiring 3 stops themselves, the team decided to alternate strategy with a short-stop, followed by a full-pit with tires and another short-stop. With lower fuel and plenty of grip on older tires, Samuel Clark was blitzing the field, effectively pushing TNT Racing Carbon into the lead with Benjamin's full-pit and short-pit remaining. Racing out of the pits with a 3.5s gap to 2nd place, Benjamin was unable to pull away on old tires, though the 2nd place car was assumed to be 2 laps short of finishing the race on fuel. Holding their breath, and the lead with 2 laps to go, the competition headed for pit-row as TNT Racing Carbon took the white flag, and eventually the checkered.

 

Lindsay said "Wow! What a gritty performance to come back from adversity and really pressure the competition into a low-fuel state and get this win. It means everything to us as we work to get that premier racing team status among the elite on the iRacing service. Sam Clark is definitely our MVP today with incredible stints and an amazing performance. Kudos to David, Paul, and Scott for their great efforts. It's a wonderful feeling to win such a prestigious event!"

 

TNT Racing Carbon was in the 2nd split of the 24 Hours of Daytona, with the top split certainly having its share of controversy and rule-bending. Overall lap times were top-5 of the top split and Sam's and Ben's fastest laps were within two tenths of the best overall laps on the entire iRacing service. A truly amazing performance, coupled with a dramatic, heart-pounding finish made the first major endurance race victory for TNT Racing extra special.