NEW AMR MAN FERNANDEZ: I STILL HAVE A LOT TO OFFER Mexican star confirms Winter Test appearance for Lola-Aston Martin prototype All along, Adrian Fernandez said he felt like he still had a lot to offer in sports car racing. The Mexican star has...
NEW AMR MAN FERNANDEZ: I STILL HAVE A LOT TO OFFER
Mexican star confirms Winter Test appearance for Lola-Aston Martin prototype
All along, Adrian Fernandez said he felt like he still had a lot to offer in sports car racing. The Mexican star has his chance to prove he's right after Aston Martin Racing announced him as an official factory driver for its LMP1 program in 2010.
The deal actually goes beyond that - it's a three-year deal, Fernandez says. The 2009 American Le Mans Series LMP2 co-champion will drive a Gulf- liveried, Aston Martin-powered Lola prototype in at least three events this season: Sebring and Long Beach (both in the American Le Mans Series) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
His first time in the seat will come in the Series' annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway on February 22-23. The prototype is the same car AMR entered at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Le Mans Series in 2009, with some small evolutions in the areas of the engine, aerodynamics and suspension along with modifications to meet the 2010 regulations for the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), the sanctioning body for Le Mans.
"I wanted to look at different options and I wanted to continue at the top," Fernandez said. "I had to see where would be the best place for me. I talked to Aston Martin but at the beginning they did not have any openings. A couple months later we saw there was an opportunity. I talked to Lowe's to see if they could be a part of it. After several discussions, they decided they could help given their plans for the European market."
The possibility remains for other events post-Le Mans. There are a number of factors including Prodrive's work on a car to meet the 2011 ACO rules.
"We're working on it now," he confirmed. They are focusing on the 2011 car and everything we do is for Le Mans and then the new car. At this point I don't have an idea to what our other plans will be."
Right now, however, the immediate focus is preparing for the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, the opening round of the American Le Mans Series season. It will be Fernandez's first run in an LMP1 machine although not his first in a closed-cockpit car. He has competed in a variety of NASCAR disciplines in the last three years.
"You get used to it," he said of driving in an enclosed cockpit. "The first thing is that I won't have as much visibility and it will be a different feeling. From what I understand, the car is quite a bit different than (the Acura-powered Lola LMP2) I drove before in 2007. Certainly it will be much more powerful. At this point, I'm so new to the whole thing that I will be able to remember what I did in the P2 car. It is such a different animal for me."
He will have plenty of time to adjust in time for AMR's primary focus for 2010: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Fernandez will race there for the second time. Three years ago he qualified on the LMP2 pole position in a Lowe's- sponsored Zytek and placed second in class.
"I loved Le Mans," he beamed. "The experience in 2007 was phenomenal. I couldn't be in an environment better than Aston Martin. They want to win as much as I want to."
The American Le Mans Series will open its 12th season with America's greatest sports car race, the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida from March 17-20. The green flag will fall at 10:35 a.m. on Saturday, March 20 with live coverage on SPEED.
The annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test is scheduled for February 22- 23, also at Sebring International Raceway.