Mexico City: GM Racing preview

Pontiac Teams Head South Of The Border To Mexico City GAINSCO Returns to Site of First Win Detroit, Mich., April 15, 2008 -- Pontiac Grand-Am teams are headed to Mexico City for round three of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by...

Pontiac Teams Head South Of The Border To Mexico City
GAINSCO Returns to Site of First Win

Detroit, Mich., April 15, 2008 -- Pontiac Grand-Am teams are headed to Mexico City for round three of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Mexico City 250.

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit is 2.5-miles in length and has 14-turns, highlighted by a near mile long front straight rewarding top speed. The track also has a set of fast esses in the back section that require downforce.

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is returning to the circuit that represents the teams first ever win in Grand-Am competition. That victory started a seven win season capped off with the 2007 Daytona Prototype (DP) championship. Drivers of the No. 99 Pontiac Riley Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty are looking forward to returning to the track where it all started.

"Mexico City is a very special place for me personally as we have two wins for the Gurney family there," Gurney said. "My dad won the 1964 Formula 1 race there and we pulled off our first win in the Rolex series last year. I absolutely love this circuit. The track is very technical with agreat mix of corners. With the high speed esses and the very high speed 'Peraltada' final corner, it is a huge challenge for the drivers and it's just a lot of fun to try to get the most out of it. Our engineer, Kyle Brannan, has alsodone a lot of work specifically for this track so we're optimistic that we'll have a very fast car. We are in a very solid second place in the championship and that is what's important in the end, but we have not found the outright speed that we enjoyed last year just yet. A lot of variables have changed as well as many rules changes that were definitely not in our favor so we believe the mountain will be bigger to climb this year. This has really just motivated everyone on the team and everyone at Pontiac to work even harder and we still have our eyes set squarely on another championship."

SunTrust Racing debuted their new Dallara Pontiac DP car at Homestead-Miami Speedway by putting the car on the front row in qualifying and leading laps before being hit from behind. The team is hoping to carry the positive Homestead performance forward to Mexico City this weekend.

"I'm looking forward to heading down to Mexico because I really enjoy the facility," Valiante said. The nicest thing, though, is to get back into the swing of things, again. We had such a long layoff between Daytona and Homestead that I've been just looking forward to getting some consistent weekends going and continuing to develop the new car since it ran so strongly at Homestead. What happened to us in the race there was such a tough situation for our team because it worked so hard just to get us there. So I felt really bad for the guys. But the positive side of it is that we were competitive and we were quick right away. After such limited time to work with the car, for us to come out and be right on pace and almost qualify on pole was unbelievable. It was a motivator for the whole team because it showed that all the effort and work that went into making this car what it is today is paying off. Every time you introduce a new car, you're always apprehensive about how it's going to perform because there is always development that needs to go into a new car and a lot of things that you don't know are going to creep up until you actually run it. It's great to know that with such limited testing that we were able to be quick right away."

The No. 91 Riley-Matthews Pontiac has put together a very strong start to the 2008 season. Marc Goosens and Jim Matthews finished second at the Rolex 24 and had a fourth place at Homestead. Mexico City looks to be another strong circuit for the North Carolina based team.

"My first race on the track was in '06 in the NASCAR Busch Series," Goosens said. "I went back last year for the first time in the DP Riley. It's one of the races that I really look forward to. I think it's a challenging track, with obviously a long straight, but also a lot of technical combinations of corners. You need, like very often needed, a good balanceaero wise. The long straight is important, but so is the twisty part of the track. On top of that there are some bumps on the track and it sometimes gets very dusty. So there's a lot of factors that have to be considered when finding the right set-up.I think we had some great showings last year, with of course the win in Miller at the end of the season. The team, Jim and myself have been building on that momentum over the winter and into this year. But I have to say that at the start of last year we were pretty good too. Only it didn't maybe show as much as this year because of some bad luckreasons. And there is of course the new bodywork and the Pirelli tires that are different for us.It looks like we got it pretty much sorted as from the start, and that combined with the engine package from Pontiac, makes us top five runners early on in the season. We now have to keepup the hard work. I really look forward to Mexico and VIR straight after that."

Krohn Racing has both of their cars in the top 10 in points, with Nic Jonsson in sixth and Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele in ninth. The team is also running their new Lola Pontiac DP cars and are looking forward to a more natural road course layout.

"I drove there twice in Formula One (1991-1992)," van de Poele said. "At that time the race track was really bumpy. I know that now it has been resurfaced. I have to say that it is a real challenging track. I cannot wait to be there. There are many quick change of directions and a very fast last corners. I love that! Despite the fact that I felt slow onto and down the straight at Homestead, Icould finally realize the full potential of the Lola. I could also learn about the team and the Rolex Series in this kind of race (short) and have this complicity with Tracy, my teammate, and Jeff Braun, my engineer. It is very promising. I can tell you that itwill not betoo long before we join the guys at the front, even though the competition is really strong."

The Banner Engineering team is coming off of a perfect weekend at Homestead with the No. 07 Pontiac GXP.R crew taking the pole and the race. Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards head into round three third in the points and the momentum to add a third Central American win to Edwards resume.

"I have two wins there in 2005 and 2006 in the Pontiac GTO.R with Magnussen and Collins," Edwards said. "We are also coming off the win at Homestead so we are going in with a full head of steam. Mexico is a great track for us. Last year we had a little difficulty in turn one with our teammate, but were able to come back and finish third. Another win is in the cards. The GXP.R jets off that last turn which gives a great run down the long straight. Our car is also well balanced in the esses."

In the No. 06 Banner Pontiac, team owner Leighton Reese will share his GXP.R with past Trans-Am nemesis Ron Fellows. Reese was on the podium with Jan Magnussen at Homestead and is looking for another strong finish this weekend.

"Ron and I have 20 Trans-Am wins between us, he has 19 and I have one," Reese said. "It will be an honor to race with him, he is a great driver and has a lot of road racing experience. It is a good opportunity to get him in the car and get some quality feedback early in the season. Even better, he has a lot of experience on the Mexico City track. I think he ran the Trans-Am race there just after World War II."

Autohaus Motosports with drivers Lawson Aschenbach and Tim Lewis Jr. are currently 10th in the Rolex GT points. Lewis has Mexico City experience and for Aschenbach it will be his first visit to the track.

"I like the track, it is actually a good circuit for our car, aside from the long straight," Lewis said. "Mexico City is an old F1 track so there are some fast sections with some technical turns as well. The fans are real passionate, that makes it that much more enjoyable for a driver. At Homestead we really didn't get to show what we had. In Mexico we are going to take a different approach and hope to be running upfront. We had some early race contact at Homestead. Mexico is a long track with more racing room. We have shown good speed at Daytona and Homestead, just catching some bad breaks in the race."

In the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports GXP.R, Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis have been consistent front runners in practice and qualifying, but small mechanical issues have kept them from strong finishes.

"I have raced at Mexico City twice," Davis said. "The track is fun and the fans are outrageous. I think it is one of the most exciting events on our schedule. We have been fast in every practice and in qualifying. In the race we have had bad racing luck. We have proven our speed and that we are front runners. We just need some luck and have everything come together to get up on the podium. The confidence of the team is high. I am excited to drive the track in the Pontiac GXP.R. It will be neat to see where the car is strong compared to what I have driven there in the past. It should be strong through the back esses, and the parabolica turn coming onto the front straight. The rest of the track plays into our handling strength. It is very bumpy and twisty. The GXP.R really transitions well and is great over the bumps."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Edwards , Jan Magnussen , Ron Fellows , Eric van de Poele , Robin Liddell , Kelly Collins , Leighton Reese , Lawson Aschenbach , Jim Matthews , Andrew Davis , Tracy Krohn , Tim Lewis , Bob Stallings
Teams Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports