Monterey, Calif. (3 May 2014) – As Luis Bacardi’s Rum Bum Racing entered the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix event at Mazda Raceway’s Laguna Seca which features the famous 10-story climb to the Corkscrew corner, the team faced an uphill battle with the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche.
Heading into the weekend, Rum Bum Racing anticipated that the competitive fortunes would not be in their favor as the nimble but modestly-motored Porsche went to do battle against a fleet of big-displacement V8 machines.
But despite carrying more series-mandated weight than it has all year, some canny strategy from Crew Chief Joe Varde and perseverance from the entire Rum Bum Racing team saw the group rally to an eighth place finish after starting deep in the GS field.
Nick Longhi opened the 2.5-hour race from 13th on the grid and worked to keep the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche out of trouble as the 60-car combined class field took to the twists and turns of the challenging circuit. Varde opted for an alternate strategy early on in the race which saw Longhi hand the car over to Plumb during the second full course caution period just 16 minutes into the race.
Plumb returned to the field 21st in the order but ran clean and consistent laps to move his way into the top-10. He took over the race lead just prior to the half-way point in the race with the FOX Sports broadcast team remarking on how “Joe Varde just does everything right” in reference to the alternate strategy that saw the No. 13 take the race lead after starting the segment from 21st position. Relishing the clear air on offer while running up front, Plumb grew his lead to a 2.5-second advantage as the pack of cars behind battled for position.
Unfortunately, the alternate strategy did not come to fruition when Plumb felt something amiss in the car. With about one hour remaining, Plumb pitted under a full course caution and a problem on the right rear of the car was discovered.
“I don’t know what God we made angry, but when they’re angry, they’re angry,” said Plumb of the misfortune. “We had a good car and everything was going fairly well. We knew we didn’t have the pace some of the leaders had, but we knew we had a good consistent pace over long runs and about ¾ through my stint I started feeling something strange with the car. We started picking up a bit of understeer and in a straight line the car started darting around quite a bit. We knew we had a bit of a problem, so I came in for tires, and there was some sort of problem with the right rear. It was a great job by the team to figure it out quickly and keep us on the lead lap. ”
The Rum Bum Racing crew maintained its poise and quickly analyzed the problem, sent the No. 13 back out under yellow in order to remain on the lead lap and were able to make the quick fix during a second stop under the caution.
The race went back to green with 50 minutes remaining and Plumb started among the ST cars and picked off each one as he worked his way back up to the rear of the GS field. A lucky full course caution was displayed with just over a half an hour to go which bunched the field and Plumb restarted 19th in line. The team made the call to have Plumb return to pit lane with 20 minutes remaining and gave the No. 13 fresh rubber and Plumb made up six positions on a longer green flag run.
A final full course yellow brought a final dash to the checkered flag with just six minutes to go and Plumb made up even more time and improved four more positions to take eighth at the finish.
“I went out and just made up some time,” added Plumb. “The car was great. It’s handling better than it’s ever handled. We got lucky on some restarts and some yellows to bunch back up. It’s just a shame that this kind of stuff keeps happening. It’s just bad luck. The yellows saved us with our issue. Every time we went green, I’d make up some spots and then we’d bunch back up (with another yellow) and then I’d make up some spots when we went green. Without the yellows I would have been dead in the water.”
The preparation of the team kept the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche on the lead lap which then allowed Plumb to deliver the top-10 result for the team.
“Any time we have an issue, there is no panic and it just comes from the team having perspective on all of this,” offered Longhi. “They know bad luck is going to happen. There are too many moving parts in these cars and too many variables involved. Things are going to happen. They are prepared for anything and everything and they just go about fixing the problem and try to seal the sinking ship as much as possible.”
Rum Bum Racing will return to race action May 23-24 at Lime Rock Park where the team clinched both the 2012 & 2013 team championship titles.