By the time this morning's 25-minute warm up session came round the early morning fog cover had given way to warm sunshine over Belle Isle, with the rain showers and all day long dark clouds of yesterday already a distant memory. In the VICI...
By the time this morning's 25-minute warm up session came round the early morning fog cover had given way to warm sunshine over Belle Isle, with the rain showers and all day long dark clouds of yesterday already a distant memory. In the VICI Racing paddock, where the #18 car has been rebuilt since its accident at Mosport last weekend, there were some lingering overnight concerns that the engine might have received damage at the Canadian race: the data readings from the practice sessions yesterday weren't entirely promising, but with no spare unit available it will be a case of adjusting the race set up and strategy to account for this issue. We will have to work around the problem.
With just two laps of the 2.09-mile, 14-turn street course yesterday in the rain under his belt, Nicky Pastorelli would be strapped into the cockpit of the #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR during the warm up session to acclimatise himself to the track in dry conditions for the first time. The session was delayed from an original start time of 9:35 AM due to the early fog which put back this morning's programme and the lights went green at the revised time of 10:10 AM. However the #2 Audi P1 prototype almost immediately was in contact with the wall bringing out the red flags. It took 10 mins before the track went to green conditions again and Nicky's first uninterrupted lap was a 1:34.150.
The former European F3000 Champion followed this lap up with a 1:30.230 (14 min), 1:29.477 (15), 1:31.585 (17), 1:29.252 (18), 1:28.573 (20) and a 1:34.950 (21). With the scheduled number of laps completed the 25-year-old Dutchman brought the car into the pits where the crew practiced tire and fuel changing during the closing seconds of the session. Nicky's quickest lap of 1:28.573 (lap 7 of 8), run at an average speed 84.13 mph, was just 1.880 seconds off the fastest GT2 class car (the #73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430GT); it is the closest gap we have had all season, and a clear demonstration that the year-long hard work put into the Kumho tire development program is race-by-race showing concrete results.
The team now changing further associated engine parts as we look towards this afternoon's 2 hour 45 minute Detroit Sports Car Challenge, the ninth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, which will go to green flag conditions at 2:35 PM.
Roland Wall, Technical Director VICI Racing: "I'm very pleased with how the warm up session went, it gives us a strong indication that we have a good set up for the race now, and the changes made to the car overnight have been positive. Nicky was very quickly up to speed on the track in the dry, although I wouldn't expect anything different from him. We now have to study the data from the engine and make sure that we can run in the best possible manner to preserve the car until the end of the race."
Nicky Pastorelli: "I think this morning went quite well. It was my first time in the dry here; in fact I only did two laps in the rain yesterday. The car felt good for sure, it works well on this track, and I think we can run a good race pace this afternoon. The track was surprisingly grippy, it was good to drive in the dry conditions and I enjoyed it, I quite like street circuits. The tires were working well too, so for sure I'm happy with everything this morning."