PICKETT POSITIVELY PLEASED TO BE BACK BEHIND THE WHEEL
Quick first day with Lola-Aston Martin at Sebring
Of all the motivating factors driving Greg Pickett to get back behind the wheel of a race car, one simply took the cake. "I didn't want my career to end upside down in a Porsche!"
The annual Sebring Winter Test is the first time Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing's owner/driver has been in the cockpit since a horrific crash that left Pickett on top of a tire barrier at Mid-Ohio in August. Wednesday, Pickett got his first lap in his team's new Aston Martin-powered Lola coupe on the first day of the two-day test for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrуn.
"It's a pretty little car," Pickett said. "We were brokenhearted to close the door on the RS Spyder, and Porsche was sad about it as well. The Lola really does feel different, and you can feel the extra weight (around 75 kilograms). It's nice to be able to squeeze through the GT cars easier than we did last year. For an old guy like me, it's more fun!"
The Lola-Aston Martin - also driven by Klaus Graf and ex-Porsche and Audi works pilot Lucas Luhr - set the fastest times in both test sessions Wednesday at Sebring International Raceway. Its fastest time was a 1:50.530 (120.510 mph) lap in the afternoon, more than enough to bring a few smiles from the Muscle Milk pit.
"It's always exciting if you have a new piece and you leave pit lane for the first time," Graf said. "Even after all the years of racing, you don't quite know what to expect. It's very different than what we are used to - totally different characteristics. I've never been in a closed-cockpit. But so far we're very happy."
"That was a big incident and a very big hit," Pickett said of the Mid-Ohio shunt. "The problem was that I had too long to think about it in the offseason. I was a bit apprehensive (this week). Getting back out in the P1 car, you forget how quickly things happen. It takes a little bit of catching up. But everything about the car and today has been so positive."
The 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida is set for 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 19. The race will be shown live and in its entirety on ESPN3.com and americanlemans.com starting at 10 a.m. ET. ABC will provide coverage from 12:30 to 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 20. Visit the American Le Mans Series' schedule page for information on tickets and area accommodations.