Disaster And Success At Petite Le Mans

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

It's been a crazy month or two for me, finally, with the help of fellow driver John Taylor, I was able to get this out. A huge thank you to John for helping me get this done. Top Lad.

October 5th, 2019

20 years ago, the first inaugural race of Petite Le Mans was run. 10 hours of the tricky track that is Road America. With its sweeping downhill esses and mix of high speed corners and tricky tight corners its a tall order to master. That hasn’t stopped countless teams over the decades, and it didn't stop Kabort Motorsport.

Following a successful run at the Bathurst 1000km the previous month, the team headed stateside full of anticipation and excitement. With the decision to run two cars this year, lots of planning and organisation was to be done. With Marco Marozzi, Nicholas Boccanfuso, and Gas Cohen in the first car, and Mark Zuidhof, Daniel Newell, Marcel Van Den Berg and Shaw Syska all piling into the second car. With a solid line-up the drivers of the classy Gold and Black Ferrari 488 all set out to fine tune the setups and get some solid laps under their belt.

Both cars showed promise in practice, With Kabort Extra (team 2) showing serious pace, enough to make the top teams look over their shoulder, and Kabort Gold (team 1) while not as blistering fast still managed to get the car up to speed, and into contention.

With qualifying around the corner, final checks were made to the cars and the star drivers suited up with team looking on hopefully for a solid result. Nicholas Boccanfuso hit the track, and while the pace was there, an unfortunate incident resulted in the marshals revoking the fast lap. Kabort Gold would start in p31, a tall order but in a 10-hour race anything can happen. Things were better in Kabort extra however; with Daniel Newell eager to put the car in the best position he could, attacked the circuit with no mercy, and put the car in a promising P14 (9th In Class)

With qualifying out of the way, the starting drivers climbed aboard their beloved 488s for one of the biggest races on the calendar. with Nicholas Boccanfuso starting in Kabort gold, determined to make up for the rough qualifying, and Daniel Newell starting for Kabort Extra.

The green flag flew, and everyone slammed the gas, hoping for a clean first lap. In Kabort Gold Nicholas had what can only be described as ''one hell of a start'' going from p31 to p26 in just a hand full of corners, proving that you should never discount anyone who starts that far down. In Kabort Extra, things were just as, if not more promising.

Daniel, hell bent on getting the team into a good position early on was pushing himself and the car to its limits, and by the end of 10 laps had moved up into p11. Things were looking good, and as the drivers melted into a steady rhythm the team breathed a sigh of relief. We had survived the most difficult part of any race, it was only uphill from here. At least, that was the hopeful thought.

After a quick pit-stop, Daniel was back out on track again, continuing to keep Extra within the Top 10. Shaw’s pit-stop came, but even still, the team strode on. In fact, Shaw pushed harder…at one point getting the team into a briefly into third place almost half way into the race….this battle for 3rd place raged on deep into the race, the car jumping from 5th to 3rd back to 5th again on a lap-by-lap basis.

¾ of the way into the race, and the battle was as heated as ever Marcel Van Den Berg was driving. The car briefly was in 2nd before disaster struck. It was unclear what exactly happened, but the boys in Black and Gold went from 2nd , down to forth, and then plummeted down to 11th….all that hard work for nothing…From 11th they plummeted further to 15th… by the time the checkered flag came out, only one position was able to be retrieved. This race was an incredibly bitter-sweet one for Kabort and will be remembered for a long time. If you’re in a strong position, keep it…don’t fight for more that you don’t have…

It was a race of two halves – whilst misery was present at the “extra” side of the garage, the Gold side had more success, climbing 10 places in 44 laps, and then having to do the majority of the work all over again due to a slow pit-stop.

Despite a few dips, Gold were still climbing, climbing up through the field…This race was all about resilience and about not giving up. From 31st on the grid, the Gold team managed to scramble up into the top 10, and managed to finish in one of Kabort’s highest positions – 6th place…the celebrations went on – reportedly “until late on Monday morning, where a mess of passed out bodies could be seen” as one Track Marshall put it.

Petite Le Mans (Special Event)

Entered Teams: 34

Practice Pos: Extra: 20th (15th in Class) | Gold: 29th (29th In Class)

Qualified: Extra: 14th (10th In Class) - (D. Newell) | Gold: 31st - (N. Boccanfuso)

Race: Extra: 14th, 9th In Class | Gold: 6th

Finishers: 20 (Extra) | 23 (Gold)

Starters (Race): Extra: 34 | Gold: 33

SOF: Extra: 1969 | Gold: 1498

Written By:

John Taylor

Edited By:

Robin Truswell