Miami, Fla - Exactly two months after racing at Utah, VICI Racing and development partner Kumho Tires will take to the track for the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series at Mid Ohio this weekend (July 17-19) and face together another unique...
Miami, Fla - Exactly two months after racing at Utah, VICI Racing and development partner Kumho Tires will take to the track for the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series at Mid Ohio this weekend (July 17-19) and face together another unique challenge in their highly demanding first year together.
Although the team has had a lengthy early summer break, the pace has been hectic as all the infrastructure necessary for a long term program in the American Le Mans Series has steadily been put into place. Most recently, the bespoke new transporters arrived just few days ago, while the new race shop is now fully up and running. A promising tire test took place at Sebring during the series' mid-season break, while a technical step forward, along with a push on new tire compounds by Kumho, meant the team chose to skip last weekend's fifth round at Lime Rock to concentrate all its resources on achieving a step in competitiveness at Mid Ohio.
VICI Racing now heads for one of America's classic sports car tracks, the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid Ohio Sports Car Course at Lexington for the sixth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) ready to carry on with the season-long tire development program and push up the GT2 class order. The ALMS series continues to emphasis its unrivalled diversity and for the tire development program another set of variables come into the mix, meaning the steep learning curve will be maintained into round six. With time to upgrade just one car, only the #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (2008) will be in action this weekend. The #18 car will be driven at Mid Ohio by Nicky and Francesco Pastorelli, the young Dutch racing brothers who impressed the team during their solid first outing in the ALMS at Utah in May.
VICI Racing and Kumho Tires have teamed up this year to run a new tire development program in the ALMS, and it's been a fast moving opening three months in a schedule that has seen the project carried out in the full racing glare. Fresh out of the box and with most staff members unfamiliar with each other's names at Sebring, the team confounded its own expectations during the famous 12-hour marathon as the new #5 car ran in a podium position for over four hours, and clinched a sixth place finish after overcoming a catalogue of late race dramas that were outside the team's control. However, motor racing brings highs and lows, and at St. Petersburg (round 2) the team came crashing back to earth and went home early after a practice accident which caused damage that couldn't be repaired at the track. Following that setback a huge dose of professionalism was called for to make the grid at Long Beach a fortnight later, and another helping of points was a perfect reward for many late nights. Round four in Utah saw the line up double as the #18 car joined the #5 in the paddock, and after a string of minor issues, getting both cars to the finish in the points sent the team into the break continuing to make progress.
VICI Racing arrives at Mid Ohio having made two key further additions to the team's personnel: James Lang arrives as Team Coordinator while Andre Nischan joins the mechanical department. James joined the team shortly after Utah and he has already taken on a great deal of responsibility. He is currently focusing on several longer term projects which will enable the team continue to position itself as a first class organization for many years to come. James will also focus on our corporate partners at the track. Andre meanwhile also started after Utah. He has many years of experience with Porsche race cars, and it will be a huge benefit to the team.
Ron Meixner, Team President VICI Racing: "We're looking forward to getting back into race action this week. The two months since Utah have really flown by and the team has been flat out during that period. We have made big strides in all areas, from technical to infrastructure, as we build a team locked into chasing success in ALMS. I'm very pleased with the influx of new staff; they perfectly compliment our core members, we have put together a very motivated and tightly-focused group. I'm also delighted to welcome Hughes Network Systems and Hughes Telematics to the team, they will prove invaluable partners for our future and are fully committed and enthusiastically supporting our push forward."
Roland Wall, Technical Director & Chief Engineer VICI Racing: "We move onto a fresh set of challenges for the team at Mid Ohio. The track was resurfaced a couple of years ago so it's an all-tarmac surface now and it's pretty smooth. It's very technical and a driver's ability is amplified here: the driver needs to be smooth, quick and make use of the kerbs; there are only a couple of overtaking points and it has to be done very precisely. Top speed isn't that high, and we will have to focus on an aero package that suits the specifics of this track; while the RSR should make a competitive showing here. We need to focus on a strong race strategy with two stops at Mid Ohio being the norm; and while some teams will not change tires at each stop we will do so as tire evaluation is a key part of our season, and we will want to work through the new development tires that Kumho are providing for this race. It's certainly an easier track on tires so this will be a benefit. Kumho are working hard on the development program, we will have new technical developments, and so I hope we can make a step forward here."
Jason Myers, Motorsport Development Director, Kumho Tires: We anticipate a good showing at Mid Ohio as we continue our development with VICI Racing. Kumho Tires R&D center is located in Akron, Ohio, so this is our home track. Our staff have been working very hard to meet the challenge of working with Porsche, as well as meeting the expectations of VICI Racing. Kumho will provide a completely new tire for Mid Ohio based on previous data and testing. We have many test laps at this track, so we believe this will give us an advantage over the competition."
Tim Bumps, Team Manager VICI Racing: "The team is in fast forward mode this year, the early schedule for us was intense, and we have faced many real character-building moments. Doubling the line-up to two cars in Utah posed another task for the team, and, although we had a few minor glitches, it went pretty well, and after our setback at St. Petersburg I was delighted that we loaded up two undamaged cars at the end of the race. All members of the team have worked really hard and I'm proud of their commitment and professionalism. We have spent much of the long mid season break expanding the team, and I'm delighted to welcome two key new individuals, James Lang and Andre Nischan, both are highly experienced and bring their own strengths to the team. James is our Team Coordinator, whom I have worked with in the past, and works directly with me. Andre is joining our highly professional technical staff and will be working directly with key members Alex Zaric [Crew Chief] and Jody Coenen [Mechanic]. Everyone at VICI Racing is now really looking forward to going racing at Mid-Ohio."
Nicky Pastorelli (Holland), Car #18: "I'm looking forward to Mid Ohio, I've heard a lot about its particular requirements but I haven't driven on it yet. In fact although I have done a season of ChampCar, the only track on the ALMS schedule I know is Road America so I'm learning a lot of new circuits this year. Getting into the program at Utah was great; we had a solid weekend with the new car and everything started to gel very quickly, while I know how fast my brother is. The team is very professional and tightly focused; we have a lot of work to do, but we know what we have to achieve and we will push hard. I was pleasantly surprised but the Kumhos in Utah so I expect that they will have new compounds to try at Mid Ohio."
Francesco Pastorelli (Holland), Car #18: "I was really pleased to hook up with VICI Racing at Utah and I think we're going to have a good season; ALMS impressed me, it's really professional and this seems a good career move for me. I learnt a lot at Utah and I think the team were satisfied with the job I did. I know how fast Nicky is, he's proven and as my older brother he is a constant benchmark. I'm really pleased to be driving the RSR too, it's a big step up for me but it's a fantastic car, very driveable. It's much more than I expected, a polished machine that reacts exactly as a race car should. It's a challenging car for the driver, you have to work hard to unlock all its potential and get everything out of it."