Automatic Racing prepares for season during test days at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- With a flat black "stealth" paint job, the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 took to the track for the first time in the new year during three days of Grand-Am...
Automatic Racing prepares for season during test days at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- With a flat black "stealth" paint job, the No. 09 Automatic Racing BMW M3 took to the track for the first time in the new year during three days of Grand-Am Cup testing at Daytona International Raceway, January 2-5.
Drivers Jep Thornton and David Russell were on hand to test the Grand Sports (GS) class car, which was running for the first time with a new splitter and rear wing. Thornton and Russell spent the first several sessions of the test adjusting the setup on the BMW to compensate for the added downforce of the new additions.
An electrical problem kept Automatic Racing from participating in the first test session, and the team only got four hot laps on the first day. After the rough start, however, the team went on to set consistent lap times in the second and third days of the test. On day two, Automatic Racing was fourth and sixth in the two sessions, and on the final day they were fifth and third.
Thornton said that the new splitter and wing are, "going to stabilize the car a lot more. It just feels much more positive going into the turns. We' ve also got ABS in the car, so that's different from last year. So there are several things that are on the car now that are going to help us in the brake zone, and also in the high-speed areas, giving us more downforce so we can go into the corners a little bit faster. The car feels a lot more positive and a lot more stable, so we're really happy that all that worked out."
The team's best time of the weekend was a 2:08.709. The quickest GS car of the weekend ran a high 2:05, so although Automatic is pleased with the results of the test, they recognize that more speed must be found before the green flag flies at the start of the season.
"The car is running good," said Thornton. "We've pretty much got the car going as fast as we can, which is good. The downside is that we're still three seconds off the fastest GS car, which is the Audi S4. So we're going to have to find the time someplace. But our times are consistent, and we're happy with the way the car is now. We've just got to see where we can find a little bit of time."
"We've got the chassis about as good as it's going to get," added Russell. "Unfortunately, I think what we're running into is an issue where there's not enough straight-line speed. And we're trying to push something that's not quite as aerodynamic as some of our competitors. I think we just have to concentrate on our own program and get the car that we have going as best as we possibly can. One of the nice things about it is that it's a very consistent car."
The 2004 Grand-Am Cup season will begin with a 250-mile race at Daytona on Friday, January 30.