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First - it rained. Then it rained some more. Then it rained harder. And then they started the race. The clouds let loose this weekend at the Grand Prix of Sears Point presented by Fosters and didn't stop until the first few laps of the race. At the end of the day, KnightHawk walked away with a very hard earned second place finish.
While the rain did it's best to "dampen" the spirits of the die-hard fans and competitors participating in this weekend's second-round American Le Mans Series race, it all seemed to be taken in stride - especially when some clever, intuitive staff member at Sears Point played the timely "Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head" over the track's PA system. It's as though the song, and the track's willingness to play it, galvanized both the teams and the spectators.
The #11 KnightHawk MG Lola piloted by Chad Block, while qualifying second in class, luckily started the race first in class due to the pole sitting challenger Intersport being stuck in the pits for the race start. The first five laps of the race where under the yellow flag to help disperse the water from the rain that had mostly come to a stop; the green flag was finally waved at 1:30. At 1:47 Block spun the turbo-charged car at turn 11, quickly recovered and continued on. Shortly thereafter, the car stalled on the backside of the track with an apparent electrical system malfunction. Astute radio communication from the pit directed the out-of-car Block to a temporary repair of the problem that allowed the car to make it back into the pits at 2:00. The crew worked very quickly on the electrical system problem and added water as well - only to receive a stop and go penalty for exiting the pit lane too quickly. Eight minutes later Block brought the car back in to the pits for the penalized time. The ten minute off-course repair not only caused KnightHawk to lose the class lead to the Archangel squad - but also any realistic chance of regaining it.
Determined to the end, Block continued to try and make up the laps lost, and combined with the efforts of teammate Steve Knight - who took over driving duties at 2:54, they skillfully reduced a 10 lap deficit to only a 2 lap deficit by race end.
But the real effort was not in just making up lost ground, but fending off the strong pursuit of the third in class Intersport team. While Knight and Block were slowly gaining on the leader Archangel, Intersport was accomplishing the same with KnightHawk's lead on them - and for both teams they almost succeeded, with KnightHawk finishing only 2 laps behind the class leader - and 1 lap ahead of Intersport.
"We started the race with the idea that we had a good chance at the win," said driver and co-owner Steve Knight. "Unfortunately, we had a little electrical problem from the rain that which took us out for about ten minutes or so, but Chad (Block) did a really good job of clearing up the problem out on the course and got the car started again and back into the pits for a thorough repair - and we had a really nice race after that. We actually started making up a lot of time at the end and we finished only a couple of laps down. The team did a great job - the crew was superb. Chad did a great job and it all worked out really well. I had Jon Field charging in from behind me all the time I was in the car - and Jon's a fast driver. I just kept the pedal to the metal the whole time and was fortunate to beat him to the line."
"We were really fortunate at first, starting 1st in class and 4th on the grid due to a problem with the Intersport car," said Chad Block. "I struggled at first in the wet - not sure if it was me or the car. As soon as it started to dry up we were really much better off and the drier it got the better we were. I came in to get the slicks on the car and it was just phenomenal after that - and really stuck to the track. I'd like to thank both Steve Knight and Mel Hawkins for the opportunity - it was great having the chance to get behind the wheel of their MG Lola - and I look forward to hopefully doing it again."
Official results of the race and minute by minute racing action notes are available to all on the IMSA website at www.imsaracing.com. Complete information on the team is available at www.knighthawkracing.com and on Chad Block at www.chadblock.com.