Nick Longhi and Emil Assentato Join Forces for Grand-Am Cup in 2006
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Nick Longhi and Emil Assentato are no strangers to the thrill of victory, and the pair hope to find themselves standing at the top of the podium again in 2006. Longhi and Assentato have joined Automatic Racing to pilot a BMW M3 in the Grand Sport class of the Grand-Am Cup Series next season.
Longhi and Assentato teamed up to compete in the Grand Sport II class of the series in 2002. They won two races and went on to take third in the GSII driver championship, just nine points out of the lead. Longhi and Assentato held onto the lead for much of the season, but mechanical problems on the first lap of the final race ended their chances for the championship.
Most recently, Longhi and Assentato joined two other drivers in the 2005 Rolex Series season opener, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In a race where simply crossing the finish line is considered an achievement, Longhi and Assentato helped lead their team to a finish of second in the GT class.
"We've done it long enough and we've won before," said Longhi, who has run select rounds with Automatic Racing over the past two seasons. "We did well in '02, and we hope we've got it together again. We have the team, the crew and the car to win races. We can't make mistakes and we have to be there at every race. You don't win being quick one weekend and slow the next. We're looking for a car that's going to be good at every track- that's the key."
"Nick is one of the more professional and better test drivers out there- he's the key to making sure we've got the cars setup properly," Assentato commented on his and Longhi's success as co-drivers. "Nick is very good at doing that, and he's also a great driver. He's a very easy guy to work with and he makes this whole process very easy."
Assentato and Longhi felt that the combination of driving a BMW and joining Automatic Racing had the most potential for success, especially with Joe Varde at the helm as Team Manager.
"The chassis balance is the best of all the cars available," said Assentato of the BMW M3. "The BMW handles better and has the best chassis dynamics. It really is the class of the field in that respect. I'm hoping we'll close the (power) gap on the Mustangs a bit. We like Automatic Racing's platform; we think that's going to give us an advantage, too."
Automatic Racing will be fielding four BMW M3s in the Grand-Am Cup Series in 2006. More information about the team can be found at www.AutomaticRacing.com.