Band of Others Racing, a new up-and-coming GT3 team consisting of seven drivers currently, made headlines last week after confirming two car entries for the Blancpain Endurance Series. The submissions came ahead of BES’s first round at Road Atlanta, slated for Saturday the 10th.
The three hour endurance race would mark the team’s first official endurance series together, after many hours of practice and a few unofficial Endurance Series races.
The team registered two cars: the Band of Others BMW and the Band of Others McLaren, with the option to add a third as necessary. The BMW team is headed by Ken (Duke) Lindberg and Kyle (Daunt) Breen-Bondie. Added to the team for at least Round 1 of the BES was Marc (Zac Sonic) Gammack. For the McLaren team, Nöel (Noodleguitar) Lüneburg drives with Davey (fromthenavy) Riendeau. Provisional drivers include Michael (Quicksilver) Lensen and Jerad (Irondiggy) Sharp. Unfortunately for Round 1, Sharp had to miss due to conflicts.
The team spent many hours practicing, first with a rigorous training regime at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, culminating with a full practice race. Team McLaren took the pole thanks to Lüneburg’s effort behind the wheel. Between Lüneburg and fellow teammate Gammack, the team was able to stay in the top 5 if not in first for the majority of the race. With great fuel strategy and fast, yet smart driving, team McLaren won the race.
After a very rough start for team BMW at the hands of Ken Lindberg, including several unfortunate car contacts, things smoothed over as the stint went on, eventually handing the car off to Sharp after the one hour mark. Through Sharp’s hard work and another good stint from Lindberg, team BMW finished 14th in the practice race.
With great results from both teams, Band of Others Racing packed it in and moved to Road Atlanta in preparation for round 1 of the Blancpain Endurance Series. Following more practice through the two weeks, the teams headed into the race. Team BMW with trio Breen-Bondie, Lindberg and Gammack placed 20th in qualifying, putting them right in the middle of the pack. Team McLaren, with Lüneburg and Riendeau seated 15th.
Lap 1 started extremely chaotic for team McLaren, with cars going threewide, resulting in a spinning Coanda BMW in turn 1. Lüneburg managed to evade by diving low onto the grass in a brilliant move to secure a position and the car’s safety. For team BMW, Breen-Bondie’s first laps go by smoothly with little to no contacts nearby.
Multiple three-wide turns and aggressive driving resulted in more accidents, knocking several cars out of the race or into the pits for repairs early. By lap 2, the BMW of Band of Others Racing fought up to P17, keeping pace with several BMW’s just ahead.
On lap 6, disaster strikes team BMW as Breen-Bondie, who is fighting for the line and his position going into turn 3, gets rear-ended by the #10 Porsche, sending him spinning into the tire barriers. The contact, straight on for the Z4, leaves the car damaged and without a hood. Pulling back onto the track, he attempted to limp back to the pits to salavage the race. Unforunetly, going downhill into the pit-in, the car’s 4.4 liter V8 blew, ending the race very early for team BMW.
“It was an unfortunate racing incident,” commented Breen-Bondie, “nothing malicious from the Porsche. Really dissapointing to let down the team mates. We looked good and tried to take it easy early on and it bit us literally in the rear end.”
The Band of Others McLaren fought hard and floated as high as 14th in the first stint. By the time Lüneburg pitted in at the first hour mark to switch in Riendeau, Lüneburg was in P17. Riendeau after a few close calls fell to around P22, but worked his way back up to P18. At the two hour mark when pit stops began, he pitted in at P10. Lüneburg took over back at P18 for the final hour of the race.
The final laps were hard, with more than one accident involving top cars. Fighting to make a move on the #2 Ford, for P14, Lüneburg ran out of time and ended the race with a good finish of P15. The finish gives the team 142 championship points, placing the team at 139 in the global standings.
“Our finishing position gained us 142 championship points,” an elated Lüneburg stated. “I feel staying patient and cautious is the main reason we had a competitve start to the season. We are very happy about [it].”
After a tough week for one team and a good result from the other, the team looks ahead and prepares for the next race. Round 2 at Brands Hatch will test everyone, truly giving the cars that dominated the practice race and Round 1 a run for their money. Round 2 coverage begins at 2pm Eastern, 1800 GMT on Saturday the 24th at Brands Hatch in England.