PRACTICE NEWS... Rick Mayer, Risi's Technical Manager and engineer on car 62 offers the following notes on set up at Long Beach. "We have a good base setup from last year, and 3 times more practice this year. The track is smooth enough to run...
Rick Mayer, Risi's Technical Manager and engineer on car 62 offers the following notes on set up at Long Beach.
"We have a good base setup from last year, and 3 times more practice this year. The track is smooth enough to run the car to the limit of the ride height rule (50mm minimum). You need good brakes, but the track isn't particularly hard on brakes. There's enough distance between corners (brake applications) to cool them down.
"The rear tires get a work out due to the slow nature of the corners (most below 100Kph/62mph); we'll set up and tune around this traction requirement, while not increasing understeer. The car needs platform support for the change of direction in the fountain turn only, and the ability to brake into the corners that are 90 degrees.
"Dampers will not account for a major portion of tuning as bumps aren't an issue. Long Beach's top speed is high for a street course (255Kph/158Mph). We'll use all the gears on the track here."
Harrison Brix not only used to hang out at the track while his father's Brix Racing team was competing in Indy car, but he also used to go kite-surfing on the beach just along from the track.
He has experienced all too harshly how fickle the wind can be here at Long Beach, and has been dumped in the sea and dragged through the water "like a torpedo. It hurt!" remembers the likeable Californian. Both Harrison and his team mate Patrick Friesacher have fitted in well with the Risi team, and are enjoying being at a track where they both have prior experience. Brix has competed here in Grand-Am while the Austrian has driven the Minardi two-seater F1 car around here.
Both Jaime Melo and Mika Salo are sporting new helmet designs. The Finn came to Sebring with a new-for-2008 design which is a derivation of his previous design.
"There's this guy in Finland who does Kimi Raikkonen's helmets as well as mine and he's kind of wacky. I just decided that I needed a new design as I'd had the old one for almost 20 years," said Salo. The blue bands on his helmet are a darker blue than previously, and feature a freestyle design within the bands in purple and black.
Melo's new helmet design would appear to be a work in progress as he's not entirely happy with this weekend's new design.
The Brazilian, who has moved from Italy to Houston -- "the weather is so much better and everything works in Houston!" -- decided that there was too much orange on his helmet so wanted to ring the changes.
There is now very little orange and less green, and much more blue. Why the blue? "There is blue on the Brazilian national flag as well as yellow and green so I wanted to use those colors, but I don't think it's quite right yet. There is too much blue now so I might change it again."