TAVARES, Fla. - Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen are taking their No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche to the inaugural American Le Mans Series race at the Circuit of the America's (COTA) in Austin, Texas, Sept. 19-21.
MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill) and teammate Bleekemolen (Monte Carlo) are looking forward to putting the WeatherTech Porsche on the newly constructed 3.4-mile, 20-turn rolling road course located 20 minutes from downtown Austin.
"COTA is a special track because of how new it is to everyone," MacNeil said. "It is also quickly making a name for itself, hosting Formula 1, Moto GP, and now the ALMS. My favorite part of the circuit would be the high speed esses, because of how fun they are to drive through fast.
The slow corners before the long straights are what we need to focus the set-up of our WeatherTech Porsche on this week. It will be a great race and every point counts. We just took over the points lead and we need to focus on maximizing our finishing positions to keep the points lead."
Bleekemolen spent last weekend in Australia driving the No. 97 Tekno Autosports Holden Commodore in the Sandown 500, finishing 12th. Bleekemolen took the time to glean as much information from his Australian teammate Shane van Gisbergen about COTA as the V8 Supercars ran at the circuit in May.
"I don't know the track yet, apart from seeing it on TV," Bleekemolen said. "But I like to go to new tracks and the challenge to be on the pace right away. The V8 guys have told me many great stories about COTA. They all loved it - having a race in the US and going there. They can't tell me too much about driving the track, as our Porsche and a V8 Supercar handle very different.
It looks like a great facility, one of the nicest tracks in America. From what I've seen it will be cool to drive. I think the track will be much closer to a lot of the modern F1 tracks than the other U.S. tracks we race. I'm used to racing at both and generally like both. It has lots of run off and looks like a very safe track to me, something you can expect from a new circuit.
Still I hope it's not too 'clinical'. Many old school U.S. tracks are a great challenge because you won't get away with mistakes. But I'm going to COTA open minded and hope the track will blow me away."
Alex Job, team owner, is looking forward to the new track.
"This will be the first new natural terrain road course we have visited since New Jersey Motorsports Park," Job said. "The track has already hosted a Formula 1 event, so I am expecting a billiard smooth surface, something we don't see much of on our schedule. We are going from the roughest track on the schedule in Baltimore to probably the smoothest we will see.
We will need to rethink our set-up and do our homework better than the rest of the GTC field. Cooper has race laps there in Ferrari Challenge, so he will be coaching Jereon a little this weekend."
The American Le Mans Series race at Circuit of the America's in Austin, Texas will run Sept.19-21.