When the race started we were able to pull ahead but were passed by the PTG car. We stayed closely behind the PTG car as the two of us built a comfortable gap to the rest of the pack. After a few laps we made our way back around the GTM from PTG and started to slowly build our overall lead. Andrew settled into a comfortable pace he felt he could sustain for a few hours. All was going according to plan and it looked like we might be a comfortable cruise to an overall victory.
Unfortunately about 45 minutes in the car started to develop electrical problems. The first issue Andrew called in over the radio was the Cosworth dash cycling on and off. The steering wheel on this car also functions as the drivers gauge cluster and even more importantly, it hosts the paddles that shift the car. When the dash would cycle off the car would be stuck in gear until the dash restarted. During a long yellow flag Andrew was able to reach behind the steering wheel and tighten the connector on the steering wheel which seemed to solve the problem. The team was greatly relieved to hear this problem had been solved at least temporarily.
Shortly after this problem was resolved Andrew started getting a low voltage warning light on the dash. The voltage readings continued to drop even after Andrew started shutting down electrical accessories. We had hoped that the additional lights were just too much for our alternator and turning them off would get us back to 14 volts. Unfortunately, even driving with the stock headlight wasn’t helping and we eventually had to retire the car. A post mortem revealed that the alternator wire had broken and took our alternator out of the electrical system.
The team was disappointed with the DNF but at the same time we realize that every component we can break on the car will lead us to future reliability in future races. We’re in the middle of digging deep into the car to get more familiar with it and be better prepared for the next NASA WERC race.