PIRELLI-SHOD ASTON MARTIN TAKES GT1 POLE AT MID-OHIO Track Conditions: Gloom Followed by ZOOM! MANSFIELD, Ohio, May 20, 2006--As the ALMS circus journeyed from Houston last week to Mid-Ohio this weekend, the teams encountered rain--lots of...
PIRELLI-SHOD ASTON MARTIN TAKES GT1 POLE AT MID-OHIO
Track Conditions: Gloom Followed by ZOOM!
MANSFIELD, Ohio, May 20, 2006--As the ALMS circus journeyed from Houston last week to Mid-Ohio this weekend, the teams encountered rain--lots of rain-- for the first practices on Friday. Compounded by the fact that the Lexington, Ohio 2.285- mile sports car course has recently received a much needed repaving and the track still isn't fully "cured," you just had to know that the teams didn't learn much about a qualifying setup for Saturday.
Saturday dawned sunny but unseasonably cool. During the morning practice the twin Aston Martin DBR9s of Tomas Enge/Darren Turner and Pedro Lamy/Stephane Sarrazin were swapping fastest times with the two GT1 Corvette C6-Rs. Suddenly, on one of the fastest parts of the circuit, the #009 Aston with Pedro Lamy behind the wheel spun around and flew off the course backwards about three feet in the air for a measured distance of almost 150 feet, landed in the gravel pit, bounced and then slid into the tire wall at high speed. Lamy was uninjured, but the car wasn't as lucky. A brake failure had caused the accident and the Aston Martin crew had less than three hours before the mandatory tire marking session and qualifying to fix the car.
Friday's weather mimicked the gloom in the Aston garage, but the crew got down to work and, incredibly, had the #009 car back in very good if not excellent shape for qualifying. And to show that all the hard work wasn't for naught, Pedro Lamy got back into the car and qualified third in GT1.
Meanwhile, the sister #007 Aston with Tomas Enge behind the wheel, was waging a great battle with the #4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin and grabbed the GT1 pole by the narrowest of margins: 0.023 seconds.
Mid-Ohio and Aston Martin gloom had turned to ZOOM!
Both Astons had been quick at Houston, with credit for much of this speed going to a new more grippy rear tire construction that the team tested at Homestead, Florida following Sebring.
With only a week between races, Pirelli's tire engineers back in Milan, headed by Pierluigi de Cancellis, burned lots of midnight oil to provide the Astons with an even better tire for Mid-Ohio, a rear tire with the same construction as raced in Houston but with a new medium compound designed to work in a wider temperature range.
And proving that development work pays dividends, it is this tire that Enge placed on the ALMS GT1 pole at Mid-Ohio.
According to Enge, "The extra grip from the new Pirelli gave me the speed to win the pole. But the race will be a different story. The Aston Martins and the Corvettes are tightly bunched. And Mid-Ohio is a difficult track on which to overtake other cars because the speeds are close and there will be lots of traffic," Enge continued. "But we will be looking to use that added Pirelli grip and consistency to keep the Aston Martins ahead of the Corvettes."