Rolex Roundup: Hoosier Tire Introduction Test
Homestead-Miami Speedway -- Day 2
MIAMI (December 1, 2004) -- With prime conditions for testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 19 different cars turned a total of 1,748 incident-free laps around the 2.3-mile speedway road course in Day 2 of the three-day Hoosier Tire Introduction Test.
Shared among several different drivers, the No. 27 Doran Racing Lexus Doran turned the most laps of the day, running 87 laps in the morning session and another 99 laps in the afternoon for a total of 186 laps. For the second consecutive day, The Racer's Group logged the most laps among GT cars as the No. 64 Porsche GT3 Cup ran 85 laps during the morning session and 87 in the afternoon for a total of 172 trips around the South Florida facility. As was also the case in yesterday's session, official times were not distributed.
BUSY DAY FOR THE RACER'S GROUP
The Racer's Group returned to Homestead-Miami Speedway with two Porsche GT3 Cup machines and a good-sized entourage of drivers for the Hoosier Tire Introduction Test. Andy Lally and Marc Bunting, the 2004 Super Grand Sport co-champions and owner/driver Kevin Buckler were joined by a host of other drivers in the team's No. 64 and No. 65 Porsches that will compete in the 2005 Rolex Series GT category.
Carlos de Quesada, Marc Sluzney, Hugh Plumb and Larry Oberto all shared the No. 64 machine, while a trio of 16-year-old drivers, Colin Braun, Adrian Carrio and Brad Coleman, joined Ross Bentley in the No. 65 Porsche for the tire test. Buckler, the 2003 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner, made the trip from his shop in California and is happy with his team's progress.
"It's been a fantastic test," Buckler said. "The weather's great, and the cars have been perfect mechanically. Everything's going really well. The Porsche Cup cars are not new to us -- we have nearly 20 of them back at the shop that we run in club races -- but running them here like we had our RSs set up, we were expecting them to do some things that they really can't do. We're learning to cope with that. We've got a great group of drivers with us, and the guys have been flawless all week. We're pleased. The test has been really, really helpful."
CITGO HOWARD-BOSS MOTORSPORTS TESTS AT ITS MOST SUCCESSFUL TRACK
Last season, Andy Wallace and co-driver Milka Duno swept both Rolex Series races at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford. After driving the car to victory in two thrilling races, Wallace returned to action at Homestead this week and was joined by Paul Edwards for testing the No. 20 Crawford with a 5.0-liter engine built to 2005 Rolex Series specifications.
Edwards, who co-drove the No. 4 Howard-Boss machine in both six-hour endurance races this past season with Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger, took his first laps around the track this morning before handing the car back to Wallace later in the session. Together, Wallace and Edwards have run 172 laps over the past two days.
"The car's great," Edwards said. "I did about 15 laps, and Andy got back in to do some shock work. I'll let him be the car hog and set everything up, and then I'll get back in."
"I really like this track, obviously, because I've had some success here," Wallace said. "We're working mostly on shocks, so we don't have the optimum setup. We're doing aerodynamic testing right now, with the main concentration on Daytona."
SILVERSTONE RACING SERVICES TESTS WITH HALL AND SIGAL
Chris Hall, lead driver of the No. 29 Silverstone Racing Services Pontiac Crawford, took a few shakedown laps Wednesday in the team's first appearance at the Hoosier Tire Introduction Test. Hall then turned the car over to Gene Sigal, who closed out the 2004 Rolex Series season with a SGS class victory in the Lexus Grand American 400 along with co-driver Harrison Brix.
"I only did a few laps, and the car felt real good," Hall said. "I would have liked to have stayed out and keep going, but I didn't want to take a chance of hurting anything on the car. Grease Monkey is thinking about buying a Crawford, so I gave Gene a chance to drive our Daytona Prototype."
Since the new car would not be ready for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Hall said that Grease Monkey drivers might join Silverstone for that event. In addition, the team is also talking with several high-profile open-wheel drivers for a limited schedule, including the Rolex 24.
74 RANCH RESORT TEAM GAINING EXPERIENCE FOR DAYTONA
Testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway in a new Lexus-powered Riley, the 74 Ranch Resort team continues to gain experience for February's Rolex 24 At Daytona.
"The car is nice to drive," said driver Wally Dallenbach. "We're logging some laps, and I'm enjoying it. We've made only a few minor changes -- shocks, gears -- but nothing major. It's not important for us to set the car up for a fast lap here at Homestead. We're just getting used to the car and not doing anything crazy. What's important is to have the car well balanced so we're in the ballpark when we get to Daytona."
Paul Dallenbach and Johnny Unser will also drive the car in the Rolex Series Daytona Test Days in January, and will join George Robinson and Wally Dallenbach for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. For Dallenbach -- who will be marking the 20th anniversary of his first Rolex 24 class victory (GTO with Roush) -- the Daytona Prototype has given him a few challenges.
"I've never driven a car with a gearbox like this where you can flat-shift the car and do things like that," said Dallenbach, who is part of the NBC television team for its NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series coverage. "Those are things I have never done before, so are some things I have to get used to it. But outside of that, after you run a few laps, it's just like any other race car."
Robinson said the team's current plan is to run in the Rolex 24, with additional races depending upon sponsorship.
SCUDERIA FERRARI OF WASHINGTON PREPARES FOR '05
Jeff Segal and Tom Hessert III spent much of the morning putting the No. 34 Scuderia Ferrari of Washington Maserati Light GT through testing paces at Homestead. Segal is looking to run a full season in the No. 34 Maserati fielded by Scuderia Ferrari of Washington.
Hessert, a USAC regular, joined the team for the test in hopes of running in his third Rolex 24, and the New Jersey driver had a bit of a scare this morning.
"The power steering locked up on me in the middle of the banking, and it headed straight for the wall," Hessert said. "I kept my foot in it and jacked it sideways to save it. It's a good thing I'm a sprint car driver. It was a wild ride. We're making progress with the car. We're not as quick as the BMWs, but we're gaining."
The team is also hoping to have Joao Barbosa and Nick Longhi in the car during the test.
GT TECHNOLOGIES GIVE NEW HOOSIER TIRES THUMBS UP
The No. 98 GT Technologies Porsche GT3 Cup of Marc Feinstein and Brady Refenning ran its first laps on the new Hoosier GT tires during Tuesday's opening session at Homestead. Today, the team worked on becoming even more acquainted with the tires while also exploring opportunities for next year. Both drivers hope to be racing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona
"We have to get used to the tires and figure them out, but I think they are more consistent that the previous tires," team owner and driver Feinstein said. "Consistency is what is important because it saves all the teams money."
"So far they have had a good fit, but they are a lot different, so it will take some time to get used to them," added Refenning.