With three hours of the 2008 Petit Le Mans now completed the ...
With three hours of the 2008 Petit Le Mans now completed the #18 VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has steered safely clear of the many incidents that have been a feature ever since the lights went green at 11:16 AM and the car is knocking on the door of the GT2 top-ten. Marc Basseng, Nicky and Francesco Pastorelli have now completed a full hour-long stint each and the car has completed 102 laps in the opening three hours. It's been an incident-packed race, and just like Thursday and Friday, with fluttering caution flags a constant feature.
Race day was set to get underway away bright and early with an 25-minute warm up session (8:15-8:40 AM) before the 10 hour or 1,000 mile Petit Le Mans, the 11th round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series went to green flag conditions at 11:15 AM.
After a routine engine change last night, along with the corner suspension units, the warm-up session would provide an opportunity to bed in all the new parts ahead of the race. Nicky drove the car early this morning and he turned in 9 consistent laps in the 1:23 to 1:25 bracket posting a best of 1:23.450 (109.575 mph) on lap 8 of the 9 that the #18 car ran. Pleasingly this was the 8th fastest GT2 time, giving the team optimism that a good race set-up was in place.
By the time the pre race festivities, which included the traditional parachutists and playing of the national anthem, were completed, the temperatures were climbing fast and it was 78 degrees (air) and 95 degrees (track) under the sunny, clear sky. The race start, at 11:16 AM was clean for the entire field and Nicky posted a first flying lap in 1:26.514. However the meeting-long flag interruptions continued to bite hard and at 11:18 AM the first full course caution flag was waved. Several more cautions followed, with the #18 car unfortunately losing a lap under the yellow flags, before at the end of the first hour we are in a solid 13th place in GT2. Seconds after the one hour mark passed, the Dutch driver brought the #18 car into the pits at 12:17 PM (1 hr 1 min running) for fuel and four new tires and driver change to Marc. "The track is busy," reported Nicky, "the car feels good, and the tires are ok, so we can run an ok pace for sure."
Out on the track Marc quickly slotted into a consistent pace, until the next full course yellows were waved at 12:39 PM after the #66 Acura went off at Turn 10. It went green again at 12:54 PM. The next yellows fluttered at 1:07 PM as the #48 Zytek hit the tires hard at Turn 12. The pits opened at 1:11 PM and at 1:13 Marc arrived in the pits to hand over to Francesco.
With fuel added, along with four new tires, the 21-year-old Dutch driver left the pits to rejoin the race and was soon circulating in the train behind the safety car until the race went to green conditions again at 1:37 PM. As the clock ticked round to the three hour mark the #18 car picked up a stop-go penalty for pitlane speeding.
All three drivers have been ultra-consistent in their times so far and as the 3 hour mark arrived Nicky turned in a 1:25.012 lap. The fastest lap posted by the #18 car so far is a 1:22.319 (111.080 mph) set on lap 38 by Marc.