St. Petersburg, FL – Primus Racing finds success amid difficult conditions.
The opening Round of the 2019 championship was one to remember with a mix of difficult conditions, new drivers, and a very close field. Primus Racing completed a last minute deal with Auckland, New Zealand driver, Josh Bethune, to pilot the Primus Racing #69 machine just days before the event. Josh completed a half days testing at Roebling Road with the team to get a feel for the car and complete his driver fit. After that it was straight to Road Atlanta to get the season started!
Thursday (Promoter Testing) and Friday (Official Practice) were days focused on learning the track and evaluating the setup on the cars. This was the first time at Road Atlanta for Bethune and the first time the new Hankook tires have been used in anger at a race event so the team focused on gathering data and evaluating setup changes explored in pre-season testing. Yoder and Bethune placed themselves P19 and P20 respectively in combined practice times after opting to not use a set of new tires for the official practice sessions. Neither had shown their true pace yet but knew they had done what was needed to be at the front when the time came.
Friday morning brought very heavy rain and high winds resulting in Qualifying being cancelled. Officials then called for Official Practice times to set the grid for Race 1 of the weekend. This was a big blow to the team strategy as it rewarded those who used new tires in practice. As the team began to prepare for the race the Race Director declared that Race 1 would be a wet race meaning that all cars must start the race on wet weather tires. The race began with both Primus drivers moving forward, beginning to showcase the true pace they had. After a lengthy red flag mid way through the race, the track had almost completely dried and the cars were stuck on track with what would now be the wrong tire choice. With limited time remaining in the race the drivers had to do what they could to search for puddles to keep the tires from completely falling apart and essentially halted any forward progress. Yoder and Bethune brought the cars home in P18 and P15 respectively.
Saturday brought forth another set of weather conditions as the rain had not completely moved out and the cold front pushed in. Lows in the mid 40’s with a light drizzle set the stage for Race 2 where Yoder would start from P20 and Bethune from P16. The race was shortened to 22 minutes from the original 30 after several drivers encountered trouble on the pace laps. A safety car at Lap 6 then took another 8 minutes off the clock leaving only 14 minutes of racing time left. Both Primus drivers fought through their packs and moved forward again to finish P13 (Bethune) and P16 (Yoder) all while setting quick laps along the way, quickest of all in fact!
For Race 3, Aidan Yoder would show his true pace by putting himself on the pole! Aidan’s time of 1:28.558 was 0.205 clear of the next competitor, solidly securing the position. Racing in the pack didn’t allow Bethune to get a clear lap, thus relegating him to a P18 starting position. This got pushed back to P20 when officials decided to use hand scored times despite some drivers not having working transponders. Aidan had a strong start and led the first 4 laps of the race. He held his own in the lead pack racing back and forth between 2nd and 4th. A safety car bunched up the field and again Aidan held his own and maintained his position. During all the action at the front Josh was having his own battles as he moved through the field one car at a time. A late race restart was everyone’s last chance to move forward, unfortunately Yoder suffered a mechanical failure with 2 laps to go, ending his race. This also ended Bethune’s charge, finishing unofficially in P13.
“Despite the results sheets not showing it, we all agree it was a successful weekend. We had fast cars off the truck, the team worked well together, adapted quickly, and constantly improved. We’ve got a good group of guys, I feel confident about the rest of the season.” – Derich Cutshaw, Race Engineer & Co-Owner
“We continued to grow throughout the entire week, learning more and more each session. We were able to make a statement on Saturday and show our true pace by setting the pole for the final race. It was a strong start to our year, I’m confident we’ll be able to continue making strides in the coming events.” – Aidan Yoder #44
“It was a great time working with the Primus boys. We all had a massive effort in front of us with the deal being so last minute but the team worked well together and helped me climb the steep learning curve quickly.” – Josh Bethune #69
Primus Racing will be back in action June 21st – 23rd at Pittsburgh International Race Complex for Round 2 of the 2019 Championship. Until then the team will resume testing, interested parties are asked to contact us for test and race opportunities!