Webb & Sampson Succumb to Mechanical Failure at Willow Springs
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As lucky as 7/7/07 was supposed to be, it didn't help the Sampson Racing Communications team at Willow Springs Raceway. After qualifying 8th overall and 3rd in the competitive EO class, Webb and Sampson failed to finish the 3-hour enduro after a combination of mechanical failures forced an early retirement for the team's normally bulletproof RX-7.



About 30 minutes into the race Webb noticed smoke in the cockpit each lap exiting the downhill turn 5. Soon thereafter Shawn Samson radioed Webb that smoke was visible from across the track and that he should keep careful watch on oil pressure and oil temperature from that point forward. Neither gauge gave any indication of trouble for the next half-hour, at which time Webb noticed a distinct change in tone from the 13B rotary engine. The team confirmed the audible change as Webb sped down the front straight. Under hard braking for turn 1 the decibel level increased markedly once again, and Webb radioed the team that he was heading for pit lane.



Upon arrival in the paddock, Sampson immediately had the car on the jack stands as Webb optimistically stayed belted into the Racetech seat. After a cursory inspection of the underside of the car it was obvious that the race was finished for the team, as the majority of the exhaust system had left the vehicle, and the transmission was leaking badly; a potentially combustible combination given the high exhaust gas temperatures generated by the rotary engine. So for the second race in a row Sampson never turned a lap in his own car after the drop of the green flag; and he didn't have a chance to enjoy the competitive advantage of the new array of high-tech PIAA racing lamps installed just prior to the race weekend.



Hopeful that the bad luck is behind them, the Sampson Racing Communications team will regroup before competing again on October 13 at Buttonwillow Raceway Park for another day-into-night 3-hour endurance race - the last race of the season before the arduous 25 Hours of Thunderhill on December 1-2 at Thunderhill Raceway north of Sacramento, CA.