Utah: VICI Racing preview

Miami, Florida - VICI Racing and Kumho Tire are heading for the Miller Motorsports Park this week to contest the Utah Grand Prix, the fourth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series. They are bolstered by the decision to run a second ...

Miami, Florida - VICI Racing and Kumho Tire are heading for the Miller Motorsports Park this week to contest the Utah Grand Prix, the fourth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series. They are bolstered by the decision to run a second Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for the first time, and welcome a top- class driver line-up for the new #18 car.

Three exciting young drivers will be in the cockpit of the #18 car, and at Utah the trio will all be driving the VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in race action for the first time. The team's new Brazilian pilot Ruben Carrapasoto will get his first full cockpit time after impressing everyone during a handful of practice laps at St. Petersburg with his assured and fast pace, while we are delighted to announce the return of Nicky Pastorelli, and the arrival of his promising younger brother Francesco.

Nicky, former European F3000 Champion and most recently a ChampCar pilot, is very well known to the team, as he drove for VICI Racing in the Rolex 24 Hours last year, and also conducted pre-Sebring shakedown testing of the #5 car. Very highly rated by all our staff, we are pleased to have him in a race seat for Utah. In some families, motor racing oozes through the blood, and it is certainly the case in the Pastorelli household, Nicky's younger brother Francesco is busy carving a name in European 'staircase' formulae. He will be making a big step up to drive in ALMS GT2 but the team is confident that he is ready to make the transition.

From the tight city streets of St. Petersburg and Long Beach, the ALMS moves onto the high-speed Miller Motorsports Park, just 30 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City in Tooele, Utah, for its third visit to a purpose- built track that only opened in April 2006. However after using the 24- turn, 4.5-mile full course during their first two visits, this year for the first time, the ALMS teams will be racing on the blindingly quick 15-turn, 3.05-mile 'perimeter' course, providing VICI Racing and Kumho Tire with yet another tough challenge for their new tire development program before the series takes an 8-week long early summer break. This track is around 4,500 feet above sea level, and gets very hot and dry in the day, adding more variables into the equation.

VICI Racing and Kumho Tire have put this ambitious tire development program together in a very short time, with everyone highly motivated and enthusiastic about the challenge. Nevertheless, the team knows a steep learning curve lies ahead throughout this year, this is a tough challenge, and by choosing to run the program in full race conditions from day one, it is a process that will be carried out in the spotlight. Arriving at Sebring in March with new personnel and a new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR straight out of the box, the team showed its professionalism by holding a top-3 position for over 4 hours, only relinquishing it when issues beyond their control arose. Motor racing though brings highs and lows, and for St. Petersburg an early practice crash brought involvement at the Florida street circuit to a premature end. However the team fought back with precision to make the grid for the second consecutive street race at Long Beach a fortnight later and record a highly satisfying finish.

During the opening three races the #5 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has been piloted by Nathan Swartzbaugh and Craig Stanton, and this lineup, which blends IMSA GT3 Cup champion Nathan's youth and speed with Craig's proven winning experience, will be back in the cockpit of the #5 car for the Utah Grand Prix. The #5 car will be supported by long-term VICI Racing partner, Wempe, a Germany-based manufacturer of exquisite timepieces and jewellery, as well as our two new partners this year: high-precision turning machine manufacturer, Tornos, and commercial real estate company, Westway Development.

Just over two years old, the Miller Motorsports Park provides a demanding challenge with four different circuit configurations available. On its third visit, and for the first time, the ALMS series will this year use the 14-turn, 3.06-mile 'Perimeter' Course (also called the Outer Course), which eliminates all the twists of the entire infield section and is one of the fastest track layouts in North America, featuring a 3,500-foot main straight where speeds will reach 200 mph and with cornering speeds from 50 to 100 mph.

While the track is basically flat, Miller Motorsports Park's design incorporates several significant elevation changes in order to add character, challenge and unparalleled sightlines for spectators. The variety of configurations, each with its own distinct characteristics, enables Miller Motorsports Park to provide challenges for drivers and riders of all skill levels while simultaneously providing exceptional race action for spectators. Safety was a major consideration in the design philosophy of Miller Motorsports Park. The circuit provides significant runoff areas, deep gravel traps and ample curbing to allow competitors to race hard, secure in the knowledge that if they make a mistake there is plenty of room for error designed into the circuit. Miller Motorsports Park thus justifiably enjoys a reputation as one of the safest racing facilities in the world.

Ruben Carrapatoso: "I'm very excited now about Utah, it will be great to get some decent time in the 911 which seemed very driver friendly when I tried it at St. Petersburg, everything you expect a Porsche to be. I have been watching videos of the Utah track to learn as much as I can about it, and it looks to be a superb track, very fast and with some great turns. I have been impressed by the professionalism of the VICI Racing team, and their commitment, and I can't wait to get in the car and hopefully get my ALMS career off to a good start in Utah, and have a good result for the team."

Nicky Pastorelli: "I'm very excited to be driving at Utah. I know the team well as I drove for them in the Daytona 24 Hours last year and they are a professional, dedicated bunch. I'm keen also to get behind the wheel of the RSR in a race as I did the car's shakedown runs pre-season for them and it felt like a superb race car that has, as we have seen since, already become a proven GT2 winner. ALMS is the most professional sports car series around so I'm looking forward to being involved. Of course having Francesco in the line-up is a bonus and it's great to have him in the car. Ruben is obviously very fast, so I think we will be the young, hungry line-up and I'm looking forward to making some waves and surprising a few people."

Francesco Pastorelli: "I can wait to get behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 next week. This will be a big step up in my career and I'm anxious to prove that I can repay the team's faith in my abilities. I'm grateful to them for giving me this chance and I intend to demonstrate that I can be a great asset to the team, starting in Utah. The track looks great too, very fast; I have been watching previous races there to understand it as much as I can. Racing alongside my brother will be fun too, Nicky is a few years above me and I have learnt a lot from him; he is quick, and has been very supportive of my own career."

Craig Stanton: "It was a real pleasure driving in my home race at Long Beach with all of the guys at VICI Racing, and now I'm looking forward to the next race at Salt Lake City. I know the car pretty well now and I know I've got a team that will put a great car under me."

Ron Meixner, President VICI Racing: "I'm pleased with the progress of the new program so far, and the fact that Utah will represent another big step forward. Kumho Tire has been working hard to develop new compounds and we have all learnt a lot after three races. Everyone is fully committed, our new personnel without exception have brought new strengths in their respective areas and the team did an expert job in recovering so well from the setback at St. Petersburg. I'm also very satisfied with the new team management structure we have put together for this year. However Kumho Tire and VICI Racing have a long way to go and we have to push on non-stop in every single area to keep raising our game towards the front of the GT2 pace. I'm pleased that we can now add the second car to the lineup, which will strengthen further our challenge in Utah and allow us to learn a lot more from the tire development program."

Roland Wall, Technical Director & Chief Engineer VICI Racing: "Utah presents quite a new challenge for us that I'm really looking forward to. After two street races we will be on a much faster track where aerodynamics will play a much more important part; this is an area I will have a close focus on. I'm looking forward to having the second car, this will give us much more scope to gather data and broaden our approach. It's also a two- and-three-quarter hour-long race so strategy will play a much bigger part. Kumho will have new compounds at the track for us to try, as they have done all year; I appreciate the commitment they are putting into the project. Finally I'm looking forward to seeing Ruben having more time in the car as well as working with Nicky and his brother, they both have pace."

Tim Bumps, Team Manager VICI Racing: "We're all looking forward to a good showing in Utah. It's been a really busy month for the whole team. After the rush to get the #5 car repaired, sorted and ready for Long Beach we have spent much time since fully preparing it for Utah. Now we have the new car in the equation as well; it will be delivered directly to the track so getting it prepped and ready will involve a lot of intensive work. We now have an expanded personnel lineup as we will be running two cars so we have been very busy gearing up and integrating the team to manage two cars. Everyone has been simply excellent in their application and I hope the week will go smoothly and, importantly, that we load up two undamaged cars on Sunday evening."

Jason Myers, Kumho Tires: Our development with VICI Racing has been progressing very well, and with the addition of a second car we feel the team will continue to show the capability of the Porsche on Kumho Tires. This will speed up the learning curve and give Kumho the opportunity to collect twice the data for future compounds and constructions. The crash at St. Petersburg was a setback, however now that the street circuits are behind us we can focus on Utah and beyond. The R&D center has been working very hard to bring the next generation tire for competition to the team. We'll have new options available for Utah so we expect to continue our push to the front and the fight for podiums."

The action on track at the Miller Motorsports Park for VICI Racing gets underway this Friday (May 16) afternoon with a 30-minute practice session (2:05-2:35 PM) reserved for the ALMS GT1 and GT2 classes. This is immediately followed by an hour-long free practice session (2:35-3:35 PM) which is open to all the classes (LMP1, LMP2, GT1 and GT2). Saturday (May 17) will see two practice sessions of an hour's duration each (10:20 - 11:20 AM and 1:55-2:55 PM) before the 20-minute qualifying session (3:05- 3:25 PM) which is reserved for the GT1/GT2 teams.

On Sunday (May 18) a 25-minute warm up session is scheduled (8:00-8:25 AM) before the Utah Grand Prix, the fourth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, goes to green flag at 1:05 PM. The race is scheduled to last for 2 hours and 45 minutes with the checkered flag waved at 3:50 PM.

Live television coverage will be presented by SPEED TV. Live radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 and American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.

-credit: vici

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Craig Stanton , Ruben Carrapatoso , Nicky Pastorelli , Nathan Swartzbaugh , Jason Myers , Francesco Pastorelli