Horton Autosport came to the recent Porsche 250 with a brand-new race car that had never turned a wheel. Drivers Patrick Lindsey and Eric Foss knew that the event at Barber Motorsports Park would be more of a test than a race.
“You could say that was our shakedown run,” Lindsey said. “However, with the help of Porsche Motorsports North America and the countless hours of preparation and engineering that it takes to prepare for Rolex Series racing, our team had an outstanding showing.”
The Porsche 250 was only the second race for the team in the Rolex Series. Last year, after running four successful seasons in World Challenge, team owner John Horton and Lindsey pondered a step up to the Rolex Series and ran in the August event at Watkins Glen International. Lindsey and Foss finished 13th in an older Porsche GT3. Impressed with the Rolex Series, the team made plans for 2012, ordered a new Porsche GT3, landed sponsorship from NEO Synthetics and Carbotech Performance Brakes, and recruited Foss to co-drive with Lindsey.
Thursday was a test day at the track with much of the time spent locating the team rig in the packed Barber paddock before they could actually get the car out on track. Friday was not only opening practice but also qualifying – and Foss came through with an impressive fourth-fastest time to put the No. 73 Neo Synthetic Oil Porsche on the second row of the grid for Saturday’s race.
“The setup on the car was good right out of the box,” Foss said. “The team really came here well prepared.”
The qualifying result came as a surprise to Foss who had no idea how his time compared to the competition at the end of the 15-minute session.
“I was a little lucky,” he said. “I had no idea how my laps compared to everyone else. I was getting static feedback in my radio, so I turned it off for qualifying.”
Foss held his position with the drop of the green flag. He took third from the Camaro of Ronnie Bremer on the 10th lap and began closing on leaders Paul Edwards and Emil Assentato. Near disaster struck on lap 17 though, when the throttle stuck as Foss entered Turn 13. He drove through the gravel trap, managed to avoid contact, and was able to return to the pits.
“Eric was brilliant in the beginning of the race,” Lindsey said. “I was cheering wildly when he made the pass for third going into Turn 1.”
Back on track, Foss was able to pass Edwards to get back on the lead lap and was able to pull away on older tires until a full-course caution waved. Lindsey drove the final hour and was running eighth when he suffered a similar issue with a sticking throttle. He was able to avoid damage, but lost a lap on pit road.
“My goal for the weekend was to bring the car home in one piece – which we did,” Foss said. “We’re not able to do the testing that some of the other teams do, but we’re looking forward to getting back out at Homestead.”
Horton was not surprised by the qualifying or race results.
“I expected a lot because of our driver lineup and the preparation and planning that went into the car before it had ever touched a race track,” Horton said. “Racing starts before even hitting the track. It was a rewarding first race of the season for Horton Autosport. We learned a great deal and are extremely excited for our next race at Homestead later this month.”