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6/4/2001. ITS Class win at the 12 hour. RC Imports Drivers Tony Zelones, Brian Shipman and Ivan Arzola, brought the #84 Mercedes Benz home first in ITS class and fifth overall at the 2001 Summit Point 12 hours endurance race. This was the first time RC Imports decided to run a Mercedes in ITS.
"It was a pleasant surprise that the car held up so well. Running on the stock brakes without ABS was an unknown, but it held up great. " Said Rick Ellinger, team owner. " The only problem we had was the alternator going bad, everything else went really well, and the drivers did a great job of keeping a consistent pace."
This year marked some stiff competition in ITS with the Top three finishers being divided by 1 lap each.
"We certainly had to work hard to keep up with the Supra & BMWs," said driver Tony Zelones. "They were driven really well and, but we kept it clean and ran the fastest pace we could without using up the tires & brakes."
As for the Two ITE Mercedes it was a disappointing weekend. #86 went out early with an engine problem. #85, which had only just been re-built after the Watkins Glen crash, started dead last after being disqualified for sound. Pat Skees got the car upto 4th place in the first hour, but then the car started to overheat.
"We were REALY concerned about the overheating. Its a brand new engine and we didnt want to destroy it like we did in Moroso." Said Rick. "It plagued us the entire race, we opened up the cooling slots in the front clip, we replaced the radiator, and finally the thermostat. It just cost us too much time."
Not only did the cooling problem cost a lot of time, the #85 car had severe problems with the brake compound. Driver Alex Ratcliffe, lost all brakes at the 3 hour mark and the crew had to change out both front calipers.
"The pads just would not last, so we had to change them every 2 and half hours. Normally we get 8 to 12 hours out of them. We will put this year down to experience. It was a WIN just getting the car to the track considering it was destroyed at the glen, and had no motor. We are looking froward to next year."
The #85 car ended up 23rd overall, with the overall & ITE win going to Ferrari of Washington F355, which ran a trouble free race.
Many Thanks to all the RC IMPORTS crew, who put in a tremendous effort this weekend.
5/28/2001 Countdown to the 12 Hour.RC IMPORTS is still on track to run three Mercedes Benz 190 16v in the SCCA 12 Hours at the point endurance race, this coming weekend at Summit Point. This after one of the cars was wrecked at Watkins Glen a only Last week in Round #4 of the Grand-Am Cup.
"Watkins Glen was a real setback. Not only did we lose the engine, but the #85 car was badly damaged in a last lap accident in the Esses. " Said Rick Ellinger, team owner. "I have had a few sleepless nights trying the get the car back together, but the car will be ready. We will run the 12 hour without the Pro-motor though as that wont be ready until the following week."
The driver lineup has changed on the #84 ITS car with Tony Zelones stepping in for Russ Franklin, who unfortunately had other commitments. Tony finished 2nd overall last year in the #86 car.
5 days to go......
4/26/2001 Star Line up for #86 Car. RC IMPORTs is proud to announce the driver lineup for the #86 Car that will participate in the 2001 12 hours at the Point Endurance race. Alex Bassi, Scott Bove, and Mike Borkowski have lots of road racing experience from Trans Am, Speedvision, Imsa , Grand Am ,Busch, Indy Lights as well as Club racing. They Join Rick Ellinger's Team in a 3 car effort to win the 12 Hour race overall.
"These guys are a great addition to the team, " Said Rick " I think they will do a fine job."
Driver line-ups are as follows:
Mike "Pat" Skees
Check out the SCCA Web site at: 12 Hour race at Summit Point
24 hour race at Moroso
Meet the drivers