Turner BMW with "Nail-Biter" Finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala take the Turner BMW Z4 to the top of the podium.05.05.2014
Turner BMW with "Nail-Biter" Finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala take the Turner BMW Z4 to the top of the podium.
Following a less than desirable start to Sunday's two hour Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda, the Turner driver duo of Markus Palttala and Dane Cameron battled back to pull off their first win of the 2014 season. The exciting win marks the first for both drivers in the GTD category and the first win for the BMW Z4 GTD in North America.
Markus Palttala made his first ever appearance at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca starting in the No. 94 BMW Z4 from Dane Cameron's P10 qualifying position. Fifteen minutes into the race Palttala had already made his way up to P7 when incidental contact with the No. 33 Viper spun him in turn 11, sending him back to P18. Palttala fought back hard, driving the Z4 back up to P10 before being called in for a pit stop fifty-eight minutes into the race.
"After I was spun in turn 11 I was not sure we would be able to recover, not to mention win the race! I was able to make a strong recovery from the spin to gain some track position before making the first pit stop. The crew made an incredible pit stop to put us back into the race, allowing Dane (Cameron) to work his way into the top five. The fast stop and strategy made for an amazing race and fantastic finish," Markus Palttala said.
The Turner crew performed a stellar pit stop and driver change to get Dane Cameron in the car with a full tank of fuel and four fresh Continental Tires, allowing Cameron to exit pit lane in P6. Cameron quickly set into a rhythm clicking off consistently quick lap times to work his way into the top five.
Team strategist Don Salama made the call to bring Cameron into pit lane out of sequence on lap 36 for a quick fuel-only stop for the No. 94 BMW Z4. The stop forfeited the top five track position putting Cameron back into P8. Cameron sliced his way back through the field while also working to conserve the Continental tires. Lead cars began to pit for fuel inside the final twenty minutes while Cameron, unconcerned with fuel status, was able to work his way into second place.
With just four laps remaining Cameron worked to hold off a hard-charging Christopher Haas, while pushing to close the thirteen second gap between himself and the No. 48 class leader of Spencer Pumpelly. As the white flag waved Cameron remained eleven seconds out of first place until Pumpelly ran out of fuel coming out of the famed Corkscrew on the final lap. Cameron was able to catch up and pass the stumbling No. 48 into Turn 10 to take the lead and the win in the final seconds of the two hour race.
Dane Cameron Explained, "He was too far ahead to catch him on pace so my only concern was to maintain the [second-place] position and make sure there was no way the Audi was going to get around us. Once I was clear of [Pumpelly] I was pretty sure I could get a good enough exit off the last corner. The Audi was quicker than us on top speed, but not until we came over the top of the hill [after the start-finish line]. I thought as long as he was beside us on the final corner we would be able to seal the deal."
The blue and yellow BMW Z4 of Cameron crossed the finish line just 0.168 ahead of second place making for one of the most spectacular finishes in Turner Motorsport's history and the first victory with the BMW Z4.
Turner Motorsport will return to the race track on May 31 for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix at the Raceway at Belle Isle, MI.