CYTOSPORT COUNTING DOWN TO LONG BEACH DEBUT Greg Pickett and Team Cytosport would be hard-pressed to find a better venue to open their American Le Mans Series campaign. When the Berkeley, Calif.-based team rolls onto the street circuit at Long...
CYTOSPORT COUNTING DOWN TO LONG BEACH DEBUT
Greg Pickett and Team Cytosport would be hard-pressed to find a better venue to open their American Le Mans Series campaign. When the Berkeley, Calif.-based team rolls onto the street circuit at Long Beach on Friday, at least Pickett and co-driver Klaus Graf will do so in familiar surroundings.
Both former Trans-Am champions, Pickett and Graf have combined for eight starts at Long Beach, site of this weekend's Grand Prix of Long Beach and the third round of the 2007 American Le Mans Series. The team's first outing will take place in a freshly reconstructed AER-powered Lola B06/10 in LMP1 on Dunlop rubber.
"We want to be as consistent as we can," said team manager Jim Dunford. "We're trying to get the chemistry of the team together. It's a real short process. We haven't practiced pit stops yet and won't begin that until later today. We got the car in time to freshen it and paint it."
Cytosport spent three days last week testing at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Reno-Fernley Raceway in Nevada. Chris Dyson, who piloted the Lola last year for Dyson Racing before a new car had to be built following Petit Le Mans, was on hand to assist in the initial shakedown. By all accounts, things went reasonably well save for time lost with electronics issues.
"Chris made some comments after he drove the car that it was better than it ever was," Dunford said. "The Dunlops have proven that they won't be a hindrance. There won't be excuses other than the fact we'll be green. A good finish would be the car with all four corners and drivers smiling at the end."
Pickett has competed at Long Beach seven times dating back to 1992 in Trans- Am. He finished in the top-10 all but once, was runner-up in 2004 and 2005 and posted the fastest race lap in 1992. Graf's lone appearance came in 2005 when he turned in the fastest race lap.
Graf also has 13 Series starts to his credit in both LMP1 for Panoz and GT2 with Alex Job Racing. He and Mike Rockenfeller won in an AJR Porsche on the streets of Houston last year.
"I know the tracks and prototype sports cars so I think we can get some very good initial results with the package that Greg has created," Graf said. "The Lola is a fast and thoroughbred car that has proved it can push the Audis on certain tracks."
The team plans on a full season in 2008, when it also hopes to gain entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. "We want to do well enough at Petit Le Mans to qualify (for the 24 Hours)," Dunford said. "Greg has been very adamant about that."