NTE/SSR Petit Le Mans Bid Ends with Pit Stop Purgatory

BRASELTON, Ga., (October 3, 2022) – NTE/SSR’s promising run at the 25th Annual Petit Le Mans ended on a disheartening note on Saturday evening, as the sports car racing team closed out the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Lamborghini team showed strong potential all weekend long leading up to the season finale race, but in the end, a pitstop error from a neighboring team ended the effort’s hopes of a top-five or podium finish.

“It’s hard to put the words together after all of the time and effort this group has put in all year,” said Team Owner Paul Mata. “Our alternate strategy for Saturday’s race was playing into our hands, but another team’s actions prevented us from seeing it through. That’s just racing, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I’m disappointed for everyone on our team, but still proud of the effort each and every one of them put in.”

The No. 42 NTE/SSR Lamborghini kicked off race week for the Motul Petit Le Mans on strong footing, placing second in the GTD class in the opening practice session. The team made the most of the three practice sessions, cycling drivers Don Yount, Jaden Conwright, and Marco Holzer through to ensure each athlete felt comfortable with the car as the team worked to dial the setup and balance in for the 10 hours of racing ahead.

Inaugural IMSA Diversity Scholarship winner Jaden Conwright produced another impressive qualifying session in the highly competitive GTD field, setting the team up to start from third place on Saturday afternoon. Starting behind the No. 1 BMW of Madison Snow and the No. 39 of Robert Megennis, Conwright had a clean opening lap, taking second place, setting sights on Snow several cars ahead. The first full course caution came in the opening hour, after about 40 minutes of running. Conwright pitted the Lamborghini for a full-service stop, and Don Yount got in the car, taking over the driving duties for the early portion of the race. Under caution, the team again pitted the Lamborghini for a splash of fuel, also giving Yount clean air to race in.

The No. 1 BMW of Snow also had breathing room over the field and was eventually able to catch the Lamborghini to attempt a pass to lap the car. The No. 42 NTE/SSR received some unexpected TV time when the No. 18 Era Motorsport LMP2 car pulled alongside Yount while the Lamborghini held off a pass from the class leader. The prototype spun on its own accord and went off into the gravel trap, bringing out a full-course caution and leading the majority of the GTD class.

Yount stayed out on track while a group of GTD cars pitted under a lengthy caution, beginning hour six from eighth place. The NTE team continued with their unique strategy to pit off-sequence, bringing Yount in just before the field went back to green. The No. 42 Lamborghini had a driver change and took on German Marco Holzer to take the green flag with just under eight hours remaining. Holzer restarted in 11th, behind the No. 27 of Ian James. He made the pass on James and Ryan Hardwick in the No. 16, taking eighth place before another lengthy full-course caution.

Yount and Holzer continued to share turns driving the car over the next several hours, bringing the Lamborghini up from 11th place to sixth. Hour six had a bit of excitement when Holzer came into pit lane to pit for tires and fuel, when he was forced to go off-road to avoid a spun prototype bocking pit lane. He brought the car safely into the box, taking tires and fuel before rejoining.

The team’s alternate strategy began to pay off, and hour by hour, the No. 42 Lamborghini climbed up the charts. With less than two hours to go in the race, the team’s luck once again changed. A last-minute call called for several cars to come into pit lane, including the NTE/SSR Lamborghini and it’s neighboring AWA LMP2 team. AWA pitted unexpectedly and first, mistakenly putting a tire too close on the ground to the NTE/SSR pit box. When Holzer came in to pit the Lamborghini, he had to come in at a different angle and farther away, making the team’s fuel hose unable to reach the car. The team was able to change the tires and pull the car back, fully in the box after the AWA car left, taking additional time to refuel once Conwright returned to the driver’s seat. The move cost the team precious time, effectively putting the squad two laps down.

From there, the team had little chance to climb back up in the time remaining, but still ran, hopeful to capitalize on any late-race cautions or attrition for other cars. In the end, the NTE/SSR Lamborghini finished in ninth place, ending a challenging season with results that failed to reflect the team’s pace and efforts.

“Our program grew exponentially this year, requiring a lot from everyone on our team,” concluded Mata. “Each person stepped up to the plate and rolled with all of the punches. We can still take pride in the fact that we faced many challenges this year and never gave up. It was a great first season racing Lamborghini machinery in WeatherTech and Super Trofeo, and I’m looking forward to what next season brings.”

The team will announce 2023 plans in the coming months.

About NTE Sport
NTE Sport is based in Dallas, Texas, and first raced in 2020. Owner Paul Mata has been in the industry for over 20 years before starting his own team and has always focused on bringing together a diverse group of individuals to provide new opportunities and bring new people into the sport. Past female drivers include Sheena Monk and Ashley Freiberg, and drivers from diverse racial backgrounds include Ryan Nash, Jaden Conwright, and Kerong Li. Dedicated to bringing highly skilled individuals from various backgrounds, NTE Sport aims to continue to make North American sports car racing a fun, welcoming, supportive environment while participating in the most competitive series in North America.
About Star Spangled Racing
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Star Spangled Racing is a newer sports car racing team, established in 2020 by first-generation immigrant Tiger Tari from Turkey. Tari is an accomplished businessman, race car driver, and philanthropist with big motorsport ambitions. Star Spangled Racing provides driving opportunities in the USA and Europe. Follow on Instagram here.
About Southwest Funding
Southwest Funding began operations in 1993 under the name Dallas Residential Mortgage. We enjoyed great success early on and before long we were serving the entire state of Texas. This growth caused us to change our name to Texas Residential Mortgage.
As we continued to grow and thrive in the industry, Texas Residential Mortgage was changed to Southwest Funding to better accommodate our growing business in other states.
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