LONG BEACH, Calif. – Nick Heidfeld’s first look at the Long Beach street circuit apparently pleased his eye. He set the quickest lap in today’s two-hour practice for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón at the renowned southern California circuit.
Driving the No. 12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota coupe, Heidfeld posted a best lap of 1:14.708 (94.833 mph) during the lead-up to Saturday’s Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach.
His time was 0.182 seconds clear of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s Lucas Luhr in the No. 6 Honda Performance Development ARX-03a. Guy Smith was another 0.176 seconds back in Dyson Racing’s No. 16 Lola-Mazda.
In GT, Marco Holzer posted a late flying lap to set the fastest GT time for Paul Miller Racing. The No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR went around Long Beach in 1:20.322 (88.205 mph), just 0.028 seconds clear of Bryan Sellers in Team Falken Tire’s No. 17 Porsche. Risi Competizione’s Matteo Mallucelli was third in class with a 1:20.547 (87.959 mph) in the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia.
Ryan Briscoe led a 1-2 result for Level 5 Motorsports. The Aussie, a runner-up in both ALMS and IndyCar at Long Beach, turned a lap of 1:17.727 (91.150 mph) in Level 5 Motorsports’ No. 551 HPD ARX-03b. He was 0.865 seconds ahead of Marino Franchitti in the No. 552 Level 5 car and a full second quicker than Extreme Speed Motorsports’ Guy Cosmo and the No. 01 HPD prototype.
Long Beach continued to be good to Bruno Junqueira, who set the fastest lap in Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire for RSR Racing. A three-time podium finisher at Long Beach in his ChampCar career, Junqueira’s best lap in the No. 9 ORECA FLM09 was a 1:18.200 (90.598 mph) for a 0.168-second gap back to CORE autosport’s Colin Braun. BAR1 Motorsports’ Kyle Marcelli was third at 1:18.434 (90.328 mph).
Jeroen Bleekemolen was the fastest GT Challenge driver with a 1:23.039 (85.319 mph) lap in Alex Job Racing’s No. 23 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Sean Edwards was second for NGT Motorsport at 1:23.191 (85.163 mph) on his final lap. Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Spencer Pumpelly was third at 1:23.697 (84.648 mph) in the No. 45 Porsche.
Today’s qualifying is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Nick Heidfeld, Rebellion Racing - No. 12 Lola-Toyota (P1): "The toughest part of running on a new street circuit is trying to learn it with relatively little time on track.
We have two hours this morning with two drivers, and on top of that in the series you have a lot of traffic so it is not often you get a clean lap. That’s the tricky part.”
(Does strategy and mindset differ on a street circuit than a normal road course?) "No I think with a street circuit because it is a bit harder to learn that it is important to stay out.
It takes longer to get to the limit and therefore makes less sense to start setting up the car straight away. It is more important to get into a rhythm."
Dominik Farnbacher, SRT Motorsports - No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (GT): "We had a few minor things we needed to improve upon since Sebring, so the team really worked hard on those. But Sebring is very comparable to a street circuit because of the bumps so we didn’t have to a lot of changes to make.
What we really did have to work on are the curbs here in Long Beach as they are higher than Sebring. The only thing you can really change on the car is to make the springs a little softer so the car goes better over all those bumps. But all and all there have not been too many changes, and the car actually feels really good."
(Did the team learned at Baltimore last year to help with setup at Long Beach?) "Not the setup but I learned not how to touch the wall <laughs>. During the winter we did a lot of development on the damping side. Baltimore helped us a lot to get experience with the damping.
I think we made the biggest jump from last year to this year just in the suspension of the car. It really made a difference at Serbing and here."
American Le Mans Series