Sebring: Robertson Racing preview

Robertson Racing gears-up for Sebring 12 Hours 12/03/2010 - The distinctive curves of a Ford GT will once again grace Sebring's concrete-paved test of endurance next week when Robertson Racing contest the American Le Mans Series season curtain...

Robertson Racing gears-up for Sebring 12 Hours

12/03/2010 - The distinctive curves of a Ford GT will once again grace Sebring's concrete-paved test of endurance next week when Robertson Racing contest the American Le Mans Series season curtain raiser in Florida.

Although 41 years has passed since Ford's supercar last claimed the 12 Hours laurels, the GT40 remains as synonymous with America's most prestigious sportscar event today as it did in 1969 when Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver took the chequered flag at the wheel of their Gulf-liveried machine.

For David Robertson, team owner and driver of the Doran-built, Roush V8-powered GT that will line-up alongside 35 other hopefuls, it's a point in history that still resonates today.

"I love Sebring and racing there, especially as it's such an important part of motorsport history," said David, who will partner wife Andrea and David Murry in the squad's #40 Doran Ford GT. "I'm just thrilled to be a part of that place. I love everything about it. Your pulse quickens just pulling in knowing what's gone on there for the past 58 years. It's just an exciting place. It's also neat to have the Ford connection, what with the GT40 winning there in the 1960s. You see it in the car. You look at it and can't help but remember that great era of endurance racing."

While it's unlikely that Robertson Racing's GT2 contender will emulate that last outright victory, the team has still been hard at work over the winter to make the 21st century version as competitive as possible, despite the swathes of manufacturer-backed entries that make the ALMS GT2 class one of the most competitive and diverse in world motorsport.

"We've made a lot of progress on the aerodynamic side, especially with the rear wing and the bottom of the car at the back," said David. "We're still trying to optimize the wing profile, given the unusual shape of the high rear deck. We've tested two wings during the winter test last month. There's also a new splitter as we look to optimize the car's balance. Internally we've also made some changes which have sped up the process of replacing damaged parts during the race, which is obviously an important area of endurance racing. Our next area of intense focus will be engine horsepower.

"A full factory effort has a lot more resources than we do which can be channelled into optimizing the small things that all add up to a half second here and there. So, at present, we're realistically racing against the owner/drivers and privateers and every now and then, when we make an improvement, we move up a little bit. Our greatest asset as we develop the car has been our very clever group of people. This year, we will have more access to CFD models and wind tunnel time to assist them. You will see continuing development as the season progresses."

Sebring itself meanwhile remains as credible a challenge as it did four decades ago thanks to the circuit's schizophrenic-like layout.

"Some of the turns are very rough as they're made up of the original concrete squares from the old runway, while others are smooth. I suppose there's always going to be a compromise to be found between ride height and spring stiffness thanks to the long, smooth sweeping turns and the bumps. It poses an equal challenge to driver and engineer. Fortunately we've got a lot of smart people like Chief Engineer Lee Penn and our very experienced driver Dave Murry who are enormously knowledgeable when it comes to set-up work."

-source: robertson racing

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Murry , Jacky Ickx , Jackie Oliver , David Robertson