Birmingham, AL – A rain-soaked track on Thursday and Friday, coupled with a newly ground-down track surface, made for a few unknowns heading into Saturdays GRAND-AM doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park.
In fact, many drivers made their first laps on Continental dry tires during Saturday’s race, including Daytona Prototype (DP) winner, Max Angelelli. Overall the revived track surface in conjunction with a newer tire compound lent itself to record-breaking lap times.
Jon Fogarty, driver of the No. 99 GAINSCO Corvette, shattered the DP pole record on Friday (1:18.949) and led the field early before his teammate, Alex Gurney, assumed driving duties.
“Continental’s they were great, great on-track tires finally,” Angelelli said following the race. “So now we have good balance and good control right to the end.”
In Grand Touring (GT) competition, it was the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro that took top honors. The combination of the Continental tires and revived track surface enabled John Edwards to break the previous track-record for the GT pole position with a fast lap time of 1:26.610.
Edwards got out to an early race lead, but pit strategy put him back in the field. Edwards fought his way back to the front in time for co-driver, Robin Liddell, to take over. Liddell drove with finesse and confidence as the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 lurked in his review mirror. With the help of his Continental tires, Liddell held off Alessandro Balzan by a mere .733 seconds for the GT win.
It was Dr. Jim Norman and Spencer Pumpelly winning it all in the GX battle in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Cayman GX.R.
“The grip was amazing, relative to where it was last year, much, much better,” said Pumpelly after the race. “It was much more fun to drive as a result. It wasn’t a race where you’re always trying to under-drive the car. You could attack and know that you would still have tires left. We enjoyed the Continental tires and the surface.”
The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series arrived at Barber Motorsports Park with a new compound from last year and the response was positive. Both Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) teams reported increased grip with the new tire compound and some teams even drove the entire race on one set of Continental tires.
“The tires were phenomenal,” said Jason Saini, driver of the No. 3 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5. “The Continental’s hung in there the whole race. We did one race on one set of tires, so 2.5-hours of running on a single set which is just fantastic durability.”
Saini and teammate, Chad McCumbee, finished third in ST competition behind the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 in second, and the Derek Whitis, Tom Long driven No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 in first. Making for a Mazda podium sweep.
The No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche Carrera, driven by Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb, landed atop the podium in GS race action for the teams first win of 2013. The win gave the Rum Bum team a 17-point lead over the No. 9 Stevenson team who finished second after a hard fought battle.