Lexington, Ohio - VICI Racing and development partner Kumho Tire are looking forward to tomorrow's Acura Sports Car Challenge of Mid Ohio after a very solid qualifying performance this afternoon which focused on tactical ...
Lexington, Ohio - VICI Racing and development partner Kumho Tire are looking forward to tomorrow's Acura Sports Car Challenge of Mid Ohio after a very solid qualifying performance this afternoon which focused on tactical preparations for the 2 hour 45 minute race, the sixth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series. With preserving tires on the #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for the opening stint of the race the key consideration for the team, Nicky Pastorelli turned in three laps early in the 20 minute qualifying session; however his laps were compromised after encountering traffic. With the #18 car safely onto the fifth row of the grid the team is satisfied with the progress that has been made over the last two days and prepare to start the race in excellent shape.
The action on track today though got underway at 12:25 PM with a 60 minute free practice session and for VICI Racing this would present the opportunity to put into action the set up changes evolved as a result of yesterday's opening practice sessions on this 2.258-mile 13-turn classic sports car track which the ALMS is visiting for the seventh time. Set in the rolling countryside of Lexington, Ohio, 60 miles north of Columbus and 70 miles south of Cleveland, this is one of America's classic tracks. Crew Chief Alex Zaric reported that everything was going like clockwork today and the team was ready for the lunchtime session.
The blue-and-white #18 car, supported by Hughes Telematics, Hughes Network Systems, LuxuryMotors.com and Wempe, was the first car onto the track when the session went green, with Nicky undertaking driving duties to focus on set up. His first full lap after 3 minutes was a 1:25.264, which he followed up with a 1:25.264 (5 mins); and with system checks ok he turned in a 1:25.137 lap next time around to put him in a provisional 5th place and take 2 seconds off yesterday's pace. This would turn out to the ex- F3000 champion's best of the session, with the track being at its fastest early on. His next was another low-1:23 lap (1:23.282) before he pitted with 9:25 mins of the session having been counted down. Some slightl adjustments and fresh tires and Nicky was back out after 15 mins. The 25 year old Dutchman was able to continue running in the 1:23 second bracket, turning in a 1:23.378, and next time round, with a third of the session completed, a 1:23.590. He came in on 23 mins and went back out on 27 mins as the focus now shifted to the tire development program. After 43 mins Nicky came in to hand over to his 21 year old brother Francesco who would use the session to acquaint himself with the car. Highly regarded, Francesco hadn't seen the Mid Ohio track before and has little track time in the RSR; however he dialled himself in very well in the half a dozen laps he was in the cockpit for, setting a best of 1:26.293.
The day's second hour-long practice session, again open to all four ALMS classes, kicked off at 4:25 PM; scheduled to finish at 5:25 PM with a 15 min break before the 20 min qualifying session got underway. Nicky kicked off proceedings posting four laps in the 1:24 bracket, and a 1:23.436, before a first pit visit after 9 minutes. Back out on track he turned in another four laps before heading for the pits after 20 minutes. Six minutes later and he was in back in the action setting more consistent times before handing over to Francesco after 33 minutes. Using tires that were now run in to keep the development focus of the session running the youngster turned in 13 laps as he learnt more about the track and the car, setting a solid pace with his last 11 laps being in the 1:26 bracket.
The qualifying session followed after a very brief break. Technical Director & Chief Engineer Roland Wall evolved a strategy that would prioritize on optimizing the opening stint of the race. With care of the tires deemed a priority, Nicky was scheduled to run three laps. These he ran off in 1:23.905, 1:23.619 and 1:23.378. With traffic from the faster prototypes causing issues, the team was happy to be in all-round great shape for the race tomorrow.
Race day tomorrow (Saturday, July 19) will get underway bright and early with a 30 minute warm up session (8:00-8:30AM) before the Acura Sports Car Challenge American Le Mans Series Race, the fifth round of the series, gets underway at 2:10PM. The race is scheduled to last 2 hours and 45 minutes with the checkered flag expected to drop at 4:55PM. With perfect weather conditions predicted a big crowd is expected tomorrow.
Nicky Pastorelli (Holland): "We've learnt a lot during the practice sessions today and yesterday and got a lot of running in. We're not there yet, but we're going in the right direction for sure. The new engine is very driveable and we have plenty of power to use. I haven't been to this track before but it's quite easy to learn; now I'm sure we can have a good race tomorrow and get the car to the checkered flag."
Francesco Pastorelli (Holland): "I haven't had as much track time as I would have liked this week but the track is nice to drive, for my first time on it, and the car feels good. I'm getting more comfortable with the RSR now and the tire development is improving."
Roland Wall, Technical Director & Chief Engineer VICI Racing: "We wanted to focus today on a set up for the race and I think we have a good strategy in place. Kumho are putting a lot of effort into the tire program and we are evaluating new tire compounds here. The new Porsche engine step has improved all round driveability and our aero set up is working well here. I'm confident Nicky and Francesco can run a good race pace and keep out of trouble so everything is in good shape."