A1 Team USA anticipating challenges of Brno track Brno, Czech Republic--A1 Team USA's Phil Giebler had his first look at Brno's 3.36-mile road circuit Thursday, walking around the track to prepare for this weekend's second A1GP race of the ...
A1 Team USA anticipating challenges of Brno track
Brno, Czech Republic--A1 Team USA's Phil Giebler had his first look at Brno's 3.36-mile road circuit Thursday, walking around the track to prepare for this weekend's second A1GP race of the season.
"It's not going to be a track that's easy to learn," Giebler said. "There is so much variation. It's a lot faster than we expected--smooth, wide, a real flowing track. The track looks really good. It's going to be a very challenging weekend for us."
Giebler is confident A1 Team USA is ready for it. They opened the season on a track they'd never seen at Zandvoort, The Netherlands, and finished second in the feature race. It was the conclusion of a successful opening weekend that including being fastest in the Saturday practice and seventh in the sprint race and qualifying. A1 Team USA is third in the championship with nine points, four behind leader Germany.
Zandvoort was the first race for Giebler with A1 Team USA's technical support group, West Surrey Racing. They clicked. "They're a great team," Giebler said. "We can work together to make the car better and not have to try to drive through problems. The result we had in our first race together was important. Everybody is positive and pumped up and that helps. "We have some continuity now. The key is to keep building on it, adding information in every session."
Giebler, from Oxnard, CA, expects it to take him two four-lap runs to reach the stage where he can begin recommending changes for the Lola-Zytek to the team. "It will take about half the first (practice) session," Giebler said. "We've been able to anticipate what our problems might be, but you can only anticipate so much. There's nothing better than time on the track to start making the right adjustments."
Giebler's second place finish at Zandvoort was achieved through his masterful driving on dry-weather tires through a track-drenching thunderstorm that allowed him to save a pit stop. Team USA would have been in the top five regardless. Its goal at Brno is top-fives across the board.
Team USA's weekend will begin Friday with Jonathan Summerton driving in the two 20-minute all-rookie practices. Summerton, an 18-year-old from Kissimmee, Fla., was seventh fastest of 20 cars at Zandvoort. Summerton tested a Formula BMW car at Brno in 2004. He estimates running 25 to 30 laps. "It's a very, very hard track to learn," Summerton said. "Even after driving it, I'd say I didn't have a clue to what it is about. But that BMW test should help once I get in the car. I can help with our setup."
A1 Team USA owner Rick Weidinger joined Giebler on the stroll around the track. "I'm glad I got a chance to walk with Phil and hear his thoughts on the track," Weidinger said. "It's a beautiful place, a flowing track with strong elevation changes and it will create a really nice race for A1GP. We're very pleased the dealings between the crew, the driver and engineer (Greg Wheeler) came together at Zandvoort. They came together quicker and better than we thought they would. It's important for the team to carry on that momentum at Brno. Our task is to find more speed in the car and qualify better."
The A1GP at Brno begins Friday with rookie practice, followed by a one hour practice for the veterans. There is a one-hour practice Saturday prior to qualifying, comprised of four 15-minute sessions with the best two laps for each driver establishing the grid. Sunday's races are the 20-minute sprint in the morning and the 70-minute feature in the afternoon.