Laguna Seca: VICI Racing preview

VICI RACING - MONTEREY SPORTS CAR CHAMPIONSHIPS, PREVIEW Monterey, Calif. - Following a real race against time over the last week- and-a-half VICI Racing arrived at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California, this week for the final appointment...


Monterey, Calif. - Following a real race against time over the last week- and-a-half VICI Racing arrived at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California, this week for the final appointment of their inaugural year in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the Monterey Sports Car Championships. The team is raring to hit the track when action gets underway tomorrow afternoon having battled back from the adversity suffered during the recent Petit Le Mans.

When the ALMS teams take to the famous Laguna Seca Raceway, a two hour drive south of San Francisco on the Pacific coast, on Thursday for the first unofficial Promoter Test Session, the #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, piloted, as usual, by Marc Basseng, Nicky and Francesco Pastorelli, will be a new car, required following the major accident during the closing hours of Petit Le Mans; an incident that has necessitated a replacement chassis being utilised. Also, with the conclusion of the season-long tire development program, VICI Racing will start the final race of the ALMS season using Dunlop tires.

With the support of key partners Hughes Telematics, Hughes Network Systems and Wempe, and following a string of long nights for the crew, VICI Racing can now face the concluding race of the 2008 ALMS season; and we will be looking to round out a demanding first year in the series with a respectable result. Also factored into the all-to-short short time gap between Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca is our truck's journey right across the country from our Miami HQ, to Monterey, California. However, despite several setbacks during recent races, VICI Racing has shown all its deep- seated professionalism and dedication in our determination to make the grid at Laguna Seca for this final race of the year, and, as has been the case all season, the team has pulled together perfectly to achieve this.

The Laguna Seca Raceway in California is another famous and demanding venue; another date in an ALMS calendar that boasts some of North America's finest and most challenging circuits. The 4 hour race this coming Saturday, which ends with the cars racing into the dusk, will be the perfect way for the team to end a long, tough season that started back in March at the 12 Hours of Sebring, a race which seems so long ago now. It will be another interesting test for the team, and for all three drivers it will be their first time at the 2.238-mile track that boasts a bit of everything, including sharp elevation changes and of course the famous downhill 'corkscrew'.

Ron C. Meixner, Team President VICI Racing: "Following the big setback at Petit when we were on course for a decent finish, we were totally determined to make it to Laguna Seca. We're had some real setbacks this year as we made the step to ALMS, in fact every race has felt like a battle, but each time we have had a setback we come back with grim determination and I think this really says everything about the team and the new personnel we have drafted in to supplement our core staff this year. I firmly believe that at VICI Racing we have the best guys in the business and few professional teams could have got through the season the way that we have done. I'm very proud of everyone, I think they all epitomize the fighting spirit and will to succeed that I have always tried to instil in the team. It is said that you learn when the pressure is on, and we have learnt, we have a team that can go on to confidently challenge in ALMS next year and we've proved we can live with everything that top- class racing can throw at you. I'm now looking forward to rounding out the season with a good result at Laguna Seca. I think we've learnt a huge amount this year and once Laguna is out of the way we can focus on 2009 knowing that we can hold our own at this level."

Roland Wall, Technical Director VICI Racing: "We have worked very hard all season to develop the Kumho Tires package to suit the RSR and I think the evidence shows that we have been successful in closing the gap to the front runners. I'm sure we can now step forward satisfied with what we achieved. We look forward to using Dunlop tires at Laguna Seca and it will be very interesting to see how we progress with them over the next few days. The crew has had a really short period in which to build up a new car following the crash at Petit. We've really had our backs to the wall this year and every time adversity has struck we have come up fighting. I'm delighted with the efforts of the crew, they have had so many late nights this year, so many cars to repair, but spirits are always high and they go about everything with enthusiasm and professionally. Alex is an excellent crew chief, and his mechanics have been brilliant, everyone wants to win and I'm delighted that we have assembled such good personnel."

Marc Basseng (Germany): "I'm happy to be going to Laguna [Seca], I think we can push in the race to end the year on a good note, we have four hours which will be good for the drivers too. Petit was tough, we had a good race pace and Roland [Wall] got a good set-up that made the car very driveable. What happened in the race with the tires was frustrating, especially as we were on course for a nice finish. There was no warning when the tire failed, and it unfortunately happened on the fast decent to the last corner, I went right up the tire wall. I was disappointed for the crew as they had worked hard to get us to the race and we were into the ninth hour so we didn't have far to go."

Nicky Pastorelli (Netherlands): "I'm looking forward to getting to try the RSR on Dunlops at Laguna Seca for sure, it's going to be a great benchmark for us, and it will be good to run on to end the season on. It was a shame that we couldn't reach the finish line in Road Atlanta as we were going well it the race and it was all coming towards us. I really enjoyed Petit though, it is a classic race, and every driver wants to take part in these sorts of events. Last year I drove for VICI at Daytona [24 Hours] so now I have drives in two of the big events. The atmosphere was great at Road Atlanta and the action was for sure a little bit crazy, cars were crashing everywhere from the moment the practice sessions kicked off. The [ALMS] series is really good though, it's very professional, lots of big name manufacturers are involved in it, the fans are knowledgeable and I'm pleased I made the switch this year, for sure it's the place to be, and I'm really happy that this is a good place [to be] for my career. There are many excellent drivers racing here so I'm competing against the best. Marc and my brother, Francesco, are great team mates and it would be good if we can get a good result to end the year, it would be nice for everyone, all the team has been working hard for sure."

Francesco Pastorelli (Netherlands): "The end of the season is coming round very quickly, and I think with the experience we have built up all year we will hope to get a good result. I was pleased with my pace at Road Atlanta, I was able to run a race pace that the team wanted and the car felt always good. I'm enjoying driving the RSR a lot, it's a rewarding car for the driver, and [at Petit Le Mans] I got plenty of cockpit time that I had lacked a bit over the summer. The team has been great, I'm feeling settled here and I'm confident they have the ability to get a winning car together so it seems a good place to be for me. I'm very happy I have made the switch from single seaters to sports cars. The atmosphere at Petit was great too; you could see all the fans lining the banks and cheering and even smell the barbeques! We had a good set up and it was a shame to go out late on, but we all know we can crack this series so we look forward to the race now. Now it's going to be exiting to race at this track and I'm looking forward also to getting to drive on the Corkscrew which is a famous turn."

-credit: vr

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Series ALMS
Drivers Nicky Pastorelli , Marc Basseng , Francesco Pastorelli