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Robbed of Petit LeMans Victory with 18 minutes left

Dagys_ 2014_319901 What promised to be a day of celebration and elation for 8Star Motorsports ended on a disastrous note, as a potential race victory was cruelly swiped from the team’s grasp at Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda – the final round of the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup on Saturday (4 October). With only 18 minutes of the ten-hour endurance feature race remaining, Sean Rayhall was leading the Prototype Challenge (PC) battle after a great comeback, when he was rear-ended into the wall. Thankfully, the Georgia-based 18-year old emerged from the terminally damaged #25 PC machine unscathed after a tense moment of uncertainty, but was evidently frustrated. After a tough start, Eric Lux gradually eased up towards the frontrunning pace and negotiated some traffic before being spun out ten minutes into the race. Beached on a curb, the New Yorker lost three laps to the leaders, although yellow-flag caution periods, strong speed and consecutive fastest laps allowed Lux and teammates Rayhall and Tom Kimber-Smith to claw their way back into contention. By the halfway point of the race, 8Star was tantalizingly close to the lead lap and, with Rayhall in the car and just over three hours to run, the Pompano Beach-based team overcame Frankie Montecalvo for the lead. 8Star Motorsports continued to hold the initiative and Rayhall was the one chosen to finish the 2014-running of Petit Le Mans. Unfortunately, with 18 minutes to go, the young Georgia hotshot was involved in a crash that ended the day for the 8Star Motorsports car and a highly frustrated Rayhall said: “I’m very disappointed with the end result, after a fantastic year for me and the 8Star Motorsports crew. Today we came back from three laps down and the car felt really good but, as we were closing in on the checkered flag, I was hit up the rear, ending our race. I feel really bad for Tom (Kimber-Smith), Eric (Lux) and the guys at 8Star Motorsports, as we had a great race and a great season together. Luckily I was able to walk away from the crash.” Kimber-Smith added: “It was a very disappointing end to the race after everyone put in so much work during the build-up and having had such a strong car. I think that today’s race was a prime example that we have to look at driving standards. This season has been marred by incidents and it really is not acceptable; in qualifying and the races, there is just no consistency in penalties and I hope changes will be made for 2015. I am totally gutted and want to say a big thank you to Enzo (Potolicchio) and everyone at 8Star Motorsports, as well as Sean (Rayhall) and Eric (Lux).” Lux continued: “8Star Motorsports gave us a great car and in each session we were able to get more and more time. I didn’t get the best start and, unfortunately, Renger Van der Zande spun me out at Turn 7. I was stuck on the curb and it put us three laps behind the leaders. Everybody in the team did an amazing job to get us back up to the front and Sean (Rayhall) and Tom (Kimber-Smith) did an amazing job, setting incredibly fast laps. We were able to lead a significant amount of the race and, with 18 minutes to go, a Ferrari sent Sean into the wall, ending our race abruptly. Fortunately, Sean is in good condition and we can focus on fixing the car in the off-season. This 8Star Motorsports team did not deserve to end the year in this way, as it had been working hard all season and even fighting for the championship up to the last round.” 8Star Motorsports Team Owner and driver, Enzo Potolicchio, concluded: “This isn’t the best way to finish the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, but we are really happy that Sean (Rayhall) came out fine after that horrible crash. It is a shame we were taken out of the race with 18 minutes to go, as we were cruising to the checkered flag after Eric (Lux), Tom (Kimber-Smith) and Sean brought the car back into the lead. The most important thing to me is that Sean is ok and that the 8Star Motorsports team is a force to be reckoned with in the TUDOR Championship, becoming one of the leading teams for drivers and sponsors.” For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

Second Win for Rayhall

Dagys_ 2014_314067 8Star Motorsports led from the front, sensationally converting pole position into victory in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Lone Star Le Mans feature race at Circuit of the Americas (20 September). An incredible qualifying effort by Sean Rayhall was followed by a determined and resolute charge to victory lane for the second consecutive race by the Georgia-based racer and Mexican teammate Luis ‘Chapulin’ Diaz. Saturday’s 20-minute morning warm-up was positive for the 8Star driver pairing, as they continued to lap the Austin circuit quickly to keep a tight grip on the top of the Prototype Challenge (PC) rankings, with a dominant one second advantage over the chasing pack. A false start to the race was followed by a strong getaway for Chapulin, who stamped his authority by consistently improving his lap times to build a dominant lead. Diaz, backed by Takis, stayed strong and led the PC class for the entirety of his stint, before handing the #25 entry to Rayhall with little under 1h40m to go. Rayhall came out of the pits and landed in fourth place. The pairing locked horns in the fight for the PC initiative and an attempt to pass at Turn 1 ended with the orange 8Star Motorsports machine spinning down to fourth position. Braun was penalized as a result and, from third, Rayhall began hunting down the top two in a determined bid to reclaim the lead. With an hour to go, Rayhall was still in third place and pushing hard, but moved back to the top of the leaderboard when his rivals had problems entering the pit lane. Following a remarkable recovery, the 18-year old concentrated on conserving his fuel to maintain first position during the run to the flag and clinch the second consecutive race win for the 8Star Motorsports team. “What a day for 8Star Motorsports,” said Rayhall. “To get spun out and drop to fourth and get back to first position and finish there for the second time is amazing! I am thankful to be driving for this Takis 8Star Motorsports team and I really feel blessed to be one of Enzo Potolicchio’s drivers. Yves (Touron) and the crew did an excellent job, the car was amazing and we were able to get our second victory in a row.” Diaz said: “I am extremely happy for the Takis 8Star Motorsports team, as the guys did an excellent job. Sean drove brilliantly to close the race, and the strategy worked out great for us. This is my last race with 8Star Motorsports and I can’t thank them enough for this amazing season. Being able to close it with two wins in a row and leaving the team in a position to battle for the championship at Petit Le Mans is just great.” For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow@8starmotor on Twitter.

Rayhall Wins Oak Tree Grand Prix

10520692_354212838059861_4647092434663349143_n A jubilant 8Star Motorsports broke its Prototype Challenge (PC) race wins duck in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) on Saturday (23 August), Sean Rayhall never looking back from pole position and dominating from start to finish. A sensational time of 1m41.447s took Rayhall to the top of the times in qualifying for the first time this year, the Cornelius, North Carolina-based racer sealing pole position for the first of two races with a full second in hand over second-placed Frankie Montecalvo. Rayhall shot away from pole position in Saturday’s 45-minute Prototype Challenge (PC)/Cooper Tires Prototype Lites race, posting fastest lap after fastest lap to build a gap of almost seven seconds over nearest rival Duncan Ende as he encountered lapped traffic. Unfortunately, a yellow flag negated Rayhall’s advantage, although the 18-year old Atlanta racer kept the initiative at the restart and gapped the chasing pack by six seconds during the final eight minutes to take the #25 8Star Motorsports-prepared PC challenger to victory at the fast, technical VIR. Rayhall said: “I’m very excited to bring home a win for the 8Star Motorsports Takis crew. This is overdue and it’s well deserved, but it was a relatively straightforward day and I’m just really thankful to my guys for giving me such a great car; hats off to them. Hopefully, Luis (Diaz) will have a great day tomorrow (Sunday 24 August) and can bring home another win for the 8Star Motorsports guys.”

Rayhall finishes 2nd at Road America

2014_Road_America_TUSC_1049 (1)   8Star Motorsports and their #25 orange FLM-009 Oreca PC driven by Luis Diaz and Sean Rayhall finished in second position at the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (10 August). Diaz started the race in the #25 8Star Prototype Challenge and quickly started pushing when a big crash involving one of the RSR cars in front created a yellow flag and promoted “Chaplin” Diaz into second position. After the green flag came out, Diaz, who was the fastest in the PC class, overcame the other RSR entry for first place. With another yellow out on track with 1h40m to go, Diaz jumped out of the car and handed the reigns over tot Rayhall to close the race. Rayhall’s stint was repeatedly interrupted by yellow flags, but he maintained the lead. With just under an hour to go and with another full course yellow, 8star and Rayhall lost the lead after a little scramble leaving the pits. Rayhall, who had the fastest lap time of 2m00.984s, kept pushing hard but was not able to overtake the #8 PC car for first place, finishing in second position. “It was a complicated day as we expected to get a win here at Road America, as the team and Sean (Rayhall) were great,” said Diaz. “I believe we didn’t make any errors, but we have to work on some improvements in the pits, which was where the race was lost. It was really close, during this time of the championship anyone can win and the field is really good. We have to learn from these opportunities and go on and get our win soon.” Rayhall added: “It was a bittersweet day for the Takis 8Star Motorsports crew as they did a great job during the whole race for us to run second. We found out what happened in the pits, but now we can fix it for the next race. It’s bitter that we lost it there, but the guys really did a great job. It was fun to drive again here in Road America and congrats to the Starworks guys. We are going to work really hard for VIR and hopefully have redemption there.” For more information on 8Star Motorsports and its racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow @8starmotor on Twitter.