New challenge Alex Job Racing will have a short trip from its headquarters in Tavares, Fla., to the American Le Mans Series race set for Oct. 5 in Miami, but proximity doesn't equal advantage. The 1.57-mile street circuit is new and untested,...
Alex Job Racing will have a short trip from its headquarters in Tavares, Fla., to the American Le Mans Series race set for Oct. 5 in Miami, but proximity doesn't equal advantage. The 1.57-mile street circuit is new and untested, so the team will have the double challenge of learning a new track and finding the optimum car setup in just two hours of practice.
Jeff Gamroth is crew chief for the No. 23 McKenna Xybernaut Porsche driven by Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen. He will start with a setup from similar tracks, then fine-tune it. "You can get close with the gearing right out of the box," he said. "Because it's a street course, you know it will have some slow corners, 90-degree corners and hairpins, and it's going to be bumpier than normal. For setup, we're going to go softer than we would on a road course because of the bumps and the low-speed corners where you need traction coming off the turns. Aerodynamically, you put as much downforce on as you can because you're not going to be hindered by top speed. You want lots of downforce and lots of grip."
But he notes the short practice time may limit the team's options. "You go there with as good a setup as you can based on the information you have, then you have to make the correct decisions between sessions," he said. "But it may not be optimum. Even if we decide to change a gear, we may not have time."
Jim Higgs, crew chief for the No. 22 Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard, said the team will continue its practice of focusing on the race, rather than developing different settings for qualifying. "Our method of operation is to work more on the race setup than qualifying setup," he said. "It gives us a better package that will be fast for the whole stint, rather than fast for 10 or 20 laps then slow 'way down."
With hurricanes on the horizon, Higgs notes the team's experience may be its biggest asset. "If it turns into a wet race, there are some things we can do to the chassis to make it a better combination and we have a couple of different rain tire compounds we can select," he noted. "The rain is a big equalizer among teams, so we rely on experience because we don't have a lot of time to test things in the rain."
Race fans will enjoy a triple feature of road racing in Miami, with the American Le Mans Series in action on Saturday, followed by the CART Championship Series and Trans-Am Series on Sunday. "This has never happened before; this is the first time the ALMS and CART have been co-features," team owner Alex Job said. "We're excited about returning to Miami and we're excited about being a co-feature with two such outstanding series."