PROMISING START FOR VICI RACING AT LAGUNA SECA It was a very promising start for VICI Racing this afternoon as the last date on the 2008 ALMS calendar, the Monterey Sports Car Championships, got underway at a hot, dry and dusty Laguna Seca ...
PROMISING START FOR VICI RACING AT LAGUNA SECA
It was a very promising start for VICI Racing this afternoon as the last date on the 2008 ALMS calendar, the Monterey Sports Car Championships, got underway at a hot, dry and dusty Laguna Seca Raceway with 90 minutes of free practice, held under the sanctioning of a Promoter Test Day. For VICI Racing just getting here this week has been the culmination of a lot of very late nights building up a new chassis following the late race drama we encountered at Petit Le Mans 12 days ago.
Laguna Seca is one of North America's classic and most popular race tracks, and the 2.238-mile permanent course sits close to the Pacific Coast, a two hour drive south of San Francisco. The schedule for this first day on track would see two Promoter Test Sessions held during the late afternoon, with the first half hour session (4:40 -- 5:10 PM, PT) reserved for the GT1 and GT2 cars, while after a half hour break, a full hour (5:40 -- 6:40 PM) would be open to all the ALMS classes.
Marc Basseng was strapped in the cockpit as the lights went green on time at 4:40 PM, and for the first time this year the #18 Porsche 911 GT3 would be running on Dunlop tires. The aim of this afternoon's running would be to run in the freshly built car, evaluate the initiate set up direction, and allow all the drivers, none of whom have driven here before, to acclimatise themselves with the demanding 2.238-mile track.
Marc's first flying lap after 8 minutes was a 1:29.629, quickly followed by a 1:27.309 (9 mins), 1:26.853 (10) and a 1:27.155 (12) before the German pitted after 13 mins, returning to the track 3 mins later. Back up to speed, Marc, who raced on the Nurburgring Nordschleife during the weekend between the Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca, turned in a 1:27.864 (18), 1:26.772 (20), 1:28.550 (21), 1:23.203 (23), 1:25.768 (24), 1:26.432 (28), 1:40.345 (29) and finally a 1:25.668 as the session wrapped up on the scheduled 30 minute mark.
Marc was happy with the session, "the car is good, it feels a lot more precise on the Dunlops and we were able to run well," he reported. "We were just getting a feel of the car on this track as it is new, and it was my first time on the track, and it was nice. The track is quite interesting too; it is a lot narrower than it appears on TV."
After a 30 minute break the final hour of the test session got underway. Nicky Pastorelli was now in the #18 car and he set about familiarising himself with the circuit which nestles in the hills here, featuring undulating banks that offer the spectator perfect vantage points to see the action around the track. The Dutchman turned in two flying laps in 1:29.233 and 1:27.758 before pitting after 10 mins for further car checks, returning to the track three minutes later. With the light quickly fading Nicky posted a 1:36.610 (16), 1:27.059 (17), 1:26.517 (19), 1:26.959 (20), 1:26.879 (21), 1:26.565 (23) and a 1:26.266 (25) before pitting after 26 mins to hand the #18 car over to his brother Francesco. "The car feels good, I'm pleased," said Nicky, "we have a good basis to build on tomorrow, and we're pointing in the right direction here for sure."
Also unfamiliar with the circuit, 21-year-old Francesco turned in three flying laps as the California skyline continued to turn a deep hue of red, before the session was interrupted on 38 mins by waved red flags as the #4 Corvette spun off into the gravel. On 46 mins the circuit went green again, but the Dutch youngster had time for just one flying lap before the reds waved again on 50 mins. Green again on 57 mins there wasn't enough time for the youngster to post a flying lap before the course went to red again and the session ended.
The best lap time of the two sessions was set by Marc in 1:25.668 (94.047 mph) on lap 17 of the 42 laps that the #18 car completed here today. Now the team looks towards tomorrow's program with a quiet satisfaction with today's results.
The action on track at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca tomorrow (Friday 17th October) will kick off with an hour long practice session (10:05 -- 11:05 AM) open to all classes, before another hour on track, again open to all the classes (1:55 -- 2:55 PM) leads to the 20 minute qualifying session (3:05 -- 3:25 PM) reserved for the GT1/GT2 cars. Race day (Saturday 18th October) sees the race warm up session (9:55 -- 10:20 AM) before the Monterey Sports Car Championships, the final round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series gets underway. The four-hour race into darkness is scheduled to start at 2:45 PM with the checkered flag scheduled to be waved at 6:45 PM. NBC Sports will air the race from 2.00 to 4:00 PM on Sunday, October 19. XM Satellite Radio will air the race from 4:00 to 8:00 PM (ET) on the same day. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage on americanlemans.com, which also will feature Live Timing & Scoring.