A Race of Survival at Road America
August 15th, 2013
WELLINGTON, Fla., (August 13, 2013) – SERKET Racing driver Mark Llano faced the challenging Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. as part of the dual GRAND-AM / American Le Mans Series weekend.
The doubleheader was a preview of what the future of sports car racing will look like as next season introduces United SportsCar Racing – the combination of the current ALMS and GRAND-AM Series. The Road America event marked the first time both series, with seven individual classes, were part of the same race weekend. And SERKET Racing was in the middle of it all.
Before qualifying began Friday, new tires were installed after Llano ran both test and practice sessions on the same set, and adjustments to the seat setup were made to allow Llano a better line of vision for finding his apex. The former Marine then set his sights on turning perfect laps and straight line speed, finishing with a fast lap time of 2:18.491.
“Qualifying went very well,” Llano said. “We ran our fastest lap at that point in qualifying. We actually ran three fast laps. We had gone out on the same tires for each practice and test session, then for qualifying we put on new tires. The new tires made a huge difference. I was pushing through turn three trying to go deeper and took a spin, but I was able to recover and turn a couple more hot laps. Over all qualifying was great, this is an amazing track!”
Friday night, Llano, alongside NGT Motorsport ALMS pro driver Sean Edwards and many other drivers, took to the 4.048-mile track on bicycles during the Subaru Tour de Road America event. The annual event was held in support of LIVESTRONG, the Austin Hatcher Foundation, the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic and the millions of people whose lives are affected by cancer every day. SERKET Racing also donated 500 dollars to the cause.
“That was awesome,” Llano exclaimed. “I prefer to drive it but we’ll do what we got to do to help others,” Llano said. “The hills were much faster than they feel in the car. It was a great race for a great cause.”
The veteran entrepreneur took a few more laps around Road America the next day for Race One starting in the 27 position after his qualifying on Friday. While the weather was perfect, the race was far from perfect. Much of the race was spent under a yellow flag due to multiple wrecks caused by a car spinning out on Lap 1 in Turn 1, Llano dodged not only the spinning cars but possible weekend-ending damage to his own while finishing 18 overall.
The drama did not break Llano’s focus as he was able to shed a second off his qualifying lap time with a best time of 2:17.641.
“Today’s race reminded me of being back in the Marine Corps and walking through a mine field,” Llano said. “At the start of the race, there were four to five cars spinning everywhere. It was total mayhem, and that is an understatement. Car shrapnel, as the Marines would say, covered the track. Even though I was able to pull my fastest lap, this was a race of survival, especially as a rookie still trying to learn the track and gain the experience. ”
Sunday’s Race Two was held under rainy conditions. A delayed start due to cars having trouble picking up speed on the slick course reduced the 45-minute sprint to 39 minutes. Once the green flag dropped, the challenge was on to find a line with grip.
Llano, much like other competitors, found out the hard way what lines did or did not work.
“Sunday was pretty crazy as the track was very slick,” Llano explained. “We had a spin in Turn 3 which we were able to recover from and get back on track. The spin put us down by two or three cars but we were able to take them back once I got back in the race. As we were pushing we had a second spin in the Canada Corner but luckily the gravel was so packed from the rain I was able to drive myself out, which is rare to be able to do that, to gain back those positions again.
“That was a very fast technical track. Last time we ran in the rain was Watkins Glen. Road America compared to Watkins Glen was a slip ‘n slide on steroids. Considering I have limited experience in the rain I think we did well. It was a great race, I enjoyed it and I think I gained a lot of experience.”
Mark Llano will take his Road America experience and push on to the next IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama event in Baltimore for the Grand Prix of Baltimore for the ALMS/IndyCar weekend.
SERKET Racing will be teaming up with sponsor Wells Fargo and philanthropic partner Operation Homefront for a life changing ceremony for a special veteran family during the ALMS pre-race.
To join the SERKET Racing mission follow the team on twitter at @serketracing and on Facebook. To follow the conversation use the hashtag #WarriorsLivebyaCode.