Practice patter ... Each time the Creation Autosportif team visits the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, it is special in the eyes of the team's co-founder, Mike Jankowski, as it marks a homecoming for the Californian entrepreneur. Raised in San...
Practice patter ...
Each time the Creation Autosportif team visits the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, it is special in the eyes of the team's co-founder, Mike Jankowski, as it marks a homecoming for the Californian entrepreneur.
Raised in San Diego, in 2004 Jankowski made his dream come true to bring his team to his home state and he is confident that this year the "Blue Rocket", the Creation-Judd prototype, will be perfectly suited to the challenges of the 2.238 mile track and is a potential race winner.
Nic Minassian is also confident after the first two hours of practice yesterday (Thursday) and thinks the lap times will fall quickly as the hours of track time continue. Asked how the track compares to his last visit here in 2004, he said, "It's pretty bumpy, especially in the braking area for Turn 1, but there's more grip everywhere because of the new surface. Yes, it's dirty at the moment, but I think it will be much better every time we go out, unless we get lots of wind blowing sand onto the track. The kerbs are also much lower than before so you can use all of them to get through a corner so we can expect much quicker laps than before."
It was Harold Primat who set the fastest Creation lap of the two hour practice session (1:16.490), just before being caught out under braking at Turn 5. It was in the closing stages of the session and only minor bodywork damage resulted from kissing the tyre barrier.
Nicolas Minassian (33) just loves racing in the USA and was typically enthusiastic about the Laguna Seca track. "It is a great place and I'm really pleased to be back here. The track is very challenging technically and the dust always adds an extra element into achieving a perfect lap, but it has a good selection of high and low speed turns and then, of course, there is the "Corkscrew"..."
Harold Primat (PREE-MAH) (31) aims to be the first Swiss driver to get back on a Le Mans podium since Laurent Ferrier and Francois Trisconi in 1979. The super-fit Swiss driver is an International Business Studies graduate, working in New York for a while before abandoning the world of finance for a full time motor racing career. He has family in the US, and made his racing debut in the 1999 US F2000 Series.
He has never been to Laguna before, but spent several hours on Wednesday running around the track with Minassian and creating their own brand of 'pace notes'. He said, "I might have to get Nic to talk me round using the notes like in rallying ... left 90, hard brake, crest etc, etc! I'm only joking of course, but it was really useful to be able to make notes on the way round the track and then I could look at them afterwards and visualise the track."
Team tips ...
Based in England, some 20 miles from the famous Silverstone circuit, Creation has been in existence for nearly 4 years.
Owned and run by Ian Bickerton and Mike Jankowski (YAN-KOFF-SKI), the team is small compared to some. There are 16 people here with the team, including drivers and admin staff, and the majority of the team flew straight from Spain to get to Petit Le Mans in time, along with 3000 kilos of freight.
Five of the team stayed in the USA after the Road Atlanta race to re-prepare the car and ensure it, and all that the team has in North America, made it to California safely.
Creation has competed for the last two years in the Le Mans Series, this year with their own chassis -- the Creation CA06/H-Judd, a 'hybrid' car similar to the French Pescarolo Sport car. Second place in this year's Teams' Championship gives them an automatic entry to the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Pole position for Petit Le Mans was followed up by a hard-fought fourth place in the race. But for a patch of oil at Turn 5 in the dark, it would have been a podium finish.
The team, and Minassian, will be looking for a repeat of their 2004 Laguna Seca pole position. After leading for all but one lap of the first hour in that year's race, the Zytek-engined car was then retired at half distance due to water pump failure.