VICI RACING ANNOUNCE DRIVER LINE UP FOR 12 HOURS OF SEBRING VICI Racing is pleased to confirm its driver-line up for the two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs it will enter in next weekend's 57th 12 Hours of Sebring (March 21) the opening round of the 2009...
VICI RACING ANNOUNCE DRIVER LINE UP FOR 12 HOURS OF SEBRING
VICI Racing is pleased to confirm its driver-line up for the two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs it will enter in next weekend's 57th 12 Hours of Sebring (March 21) the opening round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series. The driver line up will comprise of Marc Basseng, Richard Westbrook and Lance David Arnold in the #5 car, and Nicky Pastorelli, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Johannes Stuck in the #18 car.
This will be the Miami, Florida-based team's second year in the ALMS and its second appearance in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Nicky Pastorelli and Marc Basseng who did such an excellent job for the team last year in ALMS will be back to lead the driver line-up. For the Dutch former F1 Official Test Driver Nicky this will be his third straight season with VICI Racing, while Marc, who has vast experience and a win-laden sports car career, is back after impressing everyone in the team when he joined up us mid last season.
Richard Westbrook needs very little introduction and we are delighted to have secured the services of this multiple Porsche Carrera Cup and Porsche Supercup champion. Richard arrives at VICI Racing following a highly impressive 2008 when he held the unique distinction of winning races in all the three major sports car series: ALMS, FIA GT Championship and Le Mans Series.
Hans-Joachim Stuck is one of the most successful sports car drivers of all time and we are all excited that this legendary pilot will join the team in Sebring for his 15th tilt at honours in the 12 hour race. As a two-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours and three-time winner at Sebring he brings unrivalled endurance racing experience to the team. Today Stuck is the Volkswagen Group Motorsport Representative.
Finally two more upcoming young drivers will complete the line-up: Johannes Stuck, son of Hans-Joachim, and Lance David Arnold, both of whom have built up Porsche experience racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup and VLN Championships, complete a line up that blends speed, youth and experience to take on one of the toughest challenges in sports car racing.
The team is now busy with final preparations for the famous 12 Hours of Sebring. Last year's participation in the endurance classic was our ALMS debut, and to run in a podium position for half the duration of the race was a very satisfying way to start off our participation in ALMS, and it was to form a perfect springboard for the remainder of the season. Sebring is a 3.7 mile, 17-turn circuit and the oldest road course in North America. It was originally a WWII airfield training base.
Roland Wall (Technical Director VICI Racing): "We have worked hard to get the right driver line-up this year, and blend youth and experience with a real hunger to win. We wanted to get the right line-up without any compromises and so I'm pleased it's come together. I am sure that these guys will give 110 percent on ever lap and that's what I want from them. Nicky [Pastorelli] and Marc [Basseng] are proven quantities both did an excellent job last year and Nicky will be starting his third season with us, I'm confident they will develop further and driver the team on. All the other new drivers we have tested over the winter at Sebring so they have got in some experience of the RSR at Sebring, and they all proved quick straight off and able to adapt to what is a unique and tricky track. Richard [Westbrook] is a great addition to the team, he's fast, a winner and very experienced with the RSR. I know him well from the [Porsche Carrera] Cup in Germany and he is always a tough competitor. When he became available for this year he rang me and it was no-brainer to get him in the car. He will slot straight in.
"I know Hans-Joachim Stuck from Volkswagen Motorsport, when we were developing the brand new [Volkswagen] Scirocco into a race car, for VLN/24h Nurburgring, which they did win. Hans Joachim was driving one of the Scirocco's in the 24h with Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers and Dieter Depping. He was very fast, very smooth and as committed as he ever is. Hans-Joachim will bring a huge level of experience to the team and with his success record at Sebring he will be invaluable to the team, it is great for us to be able to get him into the team. I know Johannes as he raced a RSR in the same 24h race, with Marc [Basseng], and I helped them to solve a setup problem because Hans Joachim asked me to help them. Johannes impressed me; he's young, very quick and committed and dedicated to succeeding so I think he will be a great asset. He will follow in his father's footsteps for sure. The same weekend I was engineering a Porsche GT3 Cup S in ADAC GT Masters, Frank Stippler and Lance David Arnold were my drivers, and we celebrated the first ever Porsche Win in GT Masters. Lance is another quick youngster, he built a good reputation in the Carrera Cup and he will be just right for ALMS. I'm very happy with the team, [Crew Chief] Alex [Zaric] is a strong leader and we have an excellent crew. We now have to build on last year, we have the ingredients to do the job this year and the pressure is on us now."
Nicky Pastorelli (Netherlands): "Of course I am really looking forward to it [Sebring]. It's been a quiet winter for me, mostly a lot of training in the gym so I really want to get on the track and race again! The results of the test in January were very positive and I believe that with a lot of hard work all round we can do very well this year. The team worked very well last year so I can't wait to continue this season and we can build on what we have achieved so far for sure. I am also very happy to be racing at Sebring since it will be the first time for me in a race. I tested at Sebring with the RSR in January and I have also tested previously with ChampCar and it's a very demanding circuit, a real tough one for the driver for sure so I'm looking forward to the race."
Richard Westbrook (England): "I'm looking forward to next weekend, this will be my first time racing [at Sebring] and I am sure we can build on the test [in January] when I driving for the first time with VICI Racing. All the talk I had heard about the circuit was very true, it's pretty tough. There are so many bumps, you have to check your teeth still are still in you mouth! Some parts are wide, where it's on the old airfield, and some are narrow, it's quite a mix. You really feel the history round here. It's going to be pretty exciting racing 12 hours on the tack - and into the night! It does demand a lot of learning as it's so flat you don't see what's coming up. I was pleased with my first run with the team; I didn't get an awful lot of running in, but I know we have only scratched the surface and I think I have eight tenths to a second to come from myself once I learn the track more."
Hans Stuck (Germany): "Racing at Sebring again after wining for the first time in 1975 means a lot to me, especially when it comes to the fact that I can compete in the 2009 race with my son Johannes and further to that it will be my first race with Porsche since my last race for the factory in Laguna Seca 11 years ago in 1997. The other highlight is the fact that I'm racing for my old friend Ronny Meixner who I was team mate with in the times with Joest Racing when we raced Porsche 962."
Johannes Stuck (Germany): "I'm pretty excited to be racing in America for the first time, in fact it will be my first time on an American track apart from when I tested here at the end of last year, and to start off racing at Sebring is as good as it gets, although it's a big, big way to start. Of course the fact that Dad [Hans Stuck] is one of the most successful racers in the history of Sebring makes it very special to me. It was always a dream of mine to race in the States, because those tracks really separate the boys from the men, and now I'm about to achieve that dream so I am excited. Obviously I am also looking forward to the good weather, because it's freezing here in Europe, and of course I'm excited to see the fans that will be at the track, the American fans are very passionate about sports car racing. I had a good test with the team just before Christmas, I liked Sebring instantly, it was bumpy and a lot of work, you give it respect, and I like the team's set up. The team is ready to fight its way up the order this year and I'm ready to help us get to the front. I know Roland [Wall, VICI Racing Technical Director] as I have worked with him before in Germany and I have a lot of respect for him, and I'm pleased to be in the team with Marc [Basseng] as I drove with him last year in the VLN and he taught me a lot and helped me improve my driving ability; he is a good teacher. I know the RSR well as we use it in the VLM but with some more modifications, bigger wings, spoilers, no restrictors, but car is much the same, though it's stiffer here as we have a softer car on the Nordschleife, so I think I will be ready to drive the ALMS specification version."
Marc Basseng (Germany): "I'm hoping to have a good season with the team this year. I joined VICI Racing mid-year and we had a tough year, but everyone learnt a lot and we can do well this year. Sebring is a tough track; it's certainly not one of the easier tracks on the ALMS calendar. The bumps and the layout is a challenge, there is no break during a lap. But around the track the fans, the party is amazing. It is the big start into the season, this is one of the great sports car races, and it's very pleasing to be here. I think especially on this track, it is not so important to have the latest car, if you have a good car and good set up and nothing goes wrong during the twelve hours there is a chance for a good finish and success."