Brian Alder Takes 4th in Round 4 at Barber Motorsports Park

It was an up and down weekend for Brian Alder at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. Running rounds 3 and 4 of IMSA Prototype Challenge Championship, Alder fought hard all weekend in the No. 22 TOP1 Oil MPC car.

This was Brian’s first look at Barber and it was the inaugural appearance for the  Mazda Prototype Challenge cars. The racing was close and the up and down elevation changes were challenging. The technical 2.38-mile road course presented a fairly tough learning curve and a very competitive race.

“We had a couple of issues early in the week,” noted Brian. “We were trying to sort the car and become familiar with the track at the same time. It’s a beautiful track and actually a lot of fun. But if the car is misbehaving, it can add to the frustration of trying to come up to speed. By the end of the day Thursday we were in pretty good shape. The guys had to track down an electronic gremlin… but by Friday morning, we were ready for qualifying.”

“We gambled a bit in qualifying and it didn’t pay off,” said Brian. “We had just too much understeer to put in a great lap. But, we managed to grid the car 7th. I’d have liked to been further up the field as starting position in critical in these races, especially with the P3 cars, they are tough to pass.  At the start of round 3, it quickly became apparent no one had yet to experience this track running as a pack. It got pretty hairy out there. The restart settled things down. I had a great start and began moving my way up into 4th on the opening lap, but what we’re learning as we run with the P3 cars is there’s a huge disparity among the cars and drivers. Many of those teams are still struggling with handling and they tend to be slower through the corners. This presents two issues. First it allows groups of cars to get a run out front. If you’re back in the second group, your fighting to run clean with slower P3s. You can catch them and even pass them in the corners. But then they power back on the longer straights. It’s tricky.”

“I’d spent quite a few laps tucked in behind a P3 car and we were running well together. With about 10 minutes to go, I was following the P3 through the turn when suddenly he swerved to avoid a car that was spinning. This left me with little time to react. I barely missed the car but ended up in the gravel, stopped a few inches from the wall so we got lucky, it took a few laps to pull me out, we finished the race but in last place..”

In Saturday’s race, Brian started 11th overall. Putting together his best run of the weekend, he brought the Top1 Oil car home in 6th. However, when the official results were announced, two cars had been penalized for passing under yellow, advancing Brian to 4th.

“The race Saturday was great,” said Brian. “The car was dialed in and I was able to make good clean passes.It was still frustrating seeing that front pack get away while being pinched in among the second group. We’re just going to have to qualify better and get a cleaner run of the start. I’m pleased with 4th, but we’ve got some points to get back.”

“I want to thank Kevin Ryan from Top1 Oil for coming out and supporting us,” added Brian. “Top1 is an important partner and great product. They make lubricants we use in the race car … thats a huge plus when you have a marketing partner that brings support and performance!”

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