ASTON MARTIN QUICKEST AS WINTER TEST DRAWS TO CLOSE PatrÃ³n Highcroft, Risi, Genoa Racing and Kelly Moss fastest in classes Aston Martin Racing ended the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila PatrÃ³n's annual Winter Test at the top of the...
ASTON MARTIN QUICKEST AS WINTER TEST DRAWS TO CLOSE
Patrón Highcroft, Risi, Genoa Racing and Kelly Moss fastest in classes
Aston Martin Racing ended the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón's annual Winter Test at the top of the time sheets but with a lot of work to do for the 2010 season opener. The factory Aston Martin-powered Lola B09/60 set the fastest time Tuesday with a lap of 1:46.894 (124.609 mph) at Sebring International Raceway.
Adrian Fernandez, Chris Buncombe and Harold Primat will drive the Lola- Aston Martin coupe at the season-opening 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Already heavy work has started for the team after the crashed in the afternoon session at Turn 1 hard into the wall.
Primat was transported to a local hospital for observation but released later in the evening.
Intersport Racing's Lola B06/10-AER of Jon and Clint Field sat second with a 1:47.925 (123.419 mph) pass around the 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit, not far off the pace of the Aston Martin team. Intersport's best time came in the afternoon session.
Patrón Highcroft Racing was the next quickest entry and first in LMP2 with its HPD ARX-01c. The car - driven by David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti - set a best time of 1:48.153 (123.159 mph) in the morning session. Patrón Highcroft won the LMP1 championship last year and is running an updated version of the LMP2 car it fielded in 2008 and won four times in class - once overall.
Less than 0.4 seconds back was Dyson Racing's Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupe of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith. The team is continuing its tire development program with new technical partner Dunlop. The car's best time was a 1:48.496 (122.770 mph) in the morning session.
Muscle Milk Team Cytosport and its Porsche RS Spyder sat third in P2 with a lap of 1:49.318 (121.846 mph) in the morning. Team owner Greg Pickett and Klaus Graf did the bulk of the time in the car over the two days with Sascha Maassen on hand as well.
In GT2, Risi Competizione's Ferrari F430 GT was quickest in both of Tuesday's sessions. The car of Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni set a best lap of 2:02.559 (108.682 mph) in the morning. Risi is the two-time and reigning class winner at Le Mans and hasn't lost an endurance race since the Sebring race in 2008.
A pair of Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs were close behind. The entry of Darren Law and Seth Neiman sat second with a lap of 2:02.929 (108.355 mph). Porsche factory drivers Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, last year's GT2 class champions, were third at 2:03.021 (108.274 mph).
All total, the eight fastest cars Tuesday were within one second of each other.
The Sebring test also marked the debut of the Le Mans Prototype Challenge class and the ORECA FLM09. Genoa Racing's Larry Connor was credited with the fastest lap in class, a 1:56.753 (114.087 mph). He was less than 0.2 seconds quicker than Green Earth Team Gunnar's entry of Gunnar Jeannette, Christian Zugel and Elton Julian.
Level 5 Motorsports was fifth in class with a lap of 1:57.054 (113.794 mph) with Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut driving.
In the GT Challenge class for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entries, Rob Walton went quickest for Kelly Moss Racing. His lap of 2:07.795 (104.229 mph) gave him a slim, near half-second advantage over Darrell Carlisle in another Kelly Moss entry. GMG Racing's Brent Holden was third in class at 2:08.412 (103.729 mph).
Joel Feinberg, Primetime Race Group
ORECA FLM09 (LMPC)
"We came here with not many expectations - just wanting to shake down the car a bit, get to know it and try some setup stuff. There were a lot of things we wanted to see if work and turns out it did. There are a lot of ins and outs with the car that will take some fine tuning to figure out but we had good pace. But we're on a good track and on pace with the other cars. It was great to drive with my new teammate (Kyle Marcelli). We raced against each other last year so this year being teamed up is pretty cool. I think we'll work really well together as a strong driver combo."
Wolf Henzler, Team Falken Tire
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2)
"I'm new to the team this year and the team is new in itself. I'm happy to be with them and back in the American Le Mans Series. We're trying to put things together to make progress with the Falken Tires which are new to the Porsche. Our goal is continue the development from last year on every year. Hopefully by the end of the season.
"We will do another two days (of testing at Sebring). There is a lot of work to do since everything is new - the tires, the team, the car. For sure we need to test and find out what we need, what the tires need and what the car needs. We need the two extra days for this. We are seeing in what direction we need to go for the first race."
David Brabham, Patrón Highcroft Racing
HPD ARX-01c (LMP2)
"I feel like we had a good test. We're getting back to the P2 car after the P1 (from 2009) so we're relearning a lot about the car. But the P2 has always been a very reliable car. We learned a lot the last two days that will help us not only for Sebring but for the season as well. The P2 is different from the P1 in terms of tires and engine so we started with a clean sheet of paper again. The P2 is really good with turning and downforce so there is a lot to like about this. We now need a little time to go through the data we gathered on tires, engine, etc. But I think we leave here in reasonable shape."
Brian Wong, Intersport Racing
ORECA FLM09 (LMPC)
"It's a whole new car and a whole new track for me. And this is definitely a big step in my racing career, so I'm looking forward to it. This should be a good year. We're struggling a little bit now but we're getting it. It's only a test, and it's a new car to everyone so we're trying to learn as much as we can. We're looking forward to a good year."
Andy Meyrick, Dyson Racing
Lola B09/86-Mazda MZR-R (LMP2)
"This is my first time racing outside of Europe and my first time at Sebring. The track is as bumpy as people say. My 'dentures' fell out every time I went around (Turn) 17! It is a very challenging circuit, especially the way it changes. The test has been a learning experience for me. That is why it is good to work with the Dysons, Lola and Mazda - you have the benefit of their resources and heritage and history."
The American Le Mans Series will open its 12th season with America's greatest sports car race, the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida from March 17-20. The green flag will fall at 10:35 a.m. on Saturday, March 20 with live coverage on SPEED. Visit the American Le Mans Series' schedule page for ticket and accommodation information. Live Timing and Scoring, and American Le Mans Radio will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com.