Lexington, Ohio - VICI Racing turned in a faultless performance at a very hot and dry Mid-Ohio this afternoon during the Acura Sports Car Challenge with the team satisfied have made another all-round step forward in the season-long tire...
Lexington, Ohio - VICI Racing turned in a faultless performance at a very hot and dry Mid-Ohio this afternoon during the Acura Sports Car Challenge with the team satisfied have made another all-round step forward in the season-long tire development program. The #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was driven today by Nicky and Francesco Pastorelli, the two young Dutch brother turning in a very consistent race pace on their way to recording a second consecutive top-ten finish for the Hughes Telematics and Hughes Network Systems-supported car in a race that was dominated by three lengthy full course caution periods. The team's Technical Director Roland Wall was pleased with the improvement in lap times recorded here over the last few days as the ambitious tire program being run with Kumho Tires edges its way steadily closer to the front running pace in GT2.
The checkered flag was waved this afternoon exactly on schedule at 4.45 PM; however race day got underway bright and early at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this morning with a 30 minute Warm Up session (8:00-8:30AM) as the build up to the 2 hour 45 minute race, scheduled to start at 2:10PM got underway in earnest. VICI Racing skipped the last ALMS round at Lime Rock a week ago to concentrate to tire and technical developments, and arrived here with just one car upgraded with Porsche's new 4.0-litre GT2 engine. With a light cloud cover, temperatures were swiftly rising into the 70s and the race fans were streaming into the circuit as Warm Up got underway. For VICI Racing and development partner Kumho Tire it would be a brief session with Nicky, who qualified the #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on the fifth row of the GT2 grid yesterday, running a couple of laps to bed the new brake pads in and complete system checks. After an out lap Nicky posted a 1:32.768 after 4 minutes of the session, followed by a 1:29.170, before returning to the pits. With the car in great shape the crew could turn their attentions to preparing for the 2 hour 45 minute race.
The ALMS series this week is visiting the 2.258-mile 13-turn classic sports car track at Mid-Ohio for the seventh time. Nestling in the gently rolling hills of Lexington, Ohio, 60 miles north of Columbus and 70 miles south of Cleveland, this is one of America's traditional circuits. ALMS brings glamour wherever it goes and this weekend is no different: in the baking heat the traditional pre-race festivities took place before the green flag was waved on time at 2:10 PM. Nicky was entrusted with driving the opening stint this afternoon and he made up a place on the opening lap at the expense of the #44 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Posting his fastest lap of the race on lap 3 (1:23.962, 96.82 mph) the Dutch former F3000 Champion and ChampCar driver who has made the switch from single-seaters to sports cars this year maintained a steady 9th position through the first stint. Both drivers have in fact never driven here before and neither has a lot of cockpit time in the RSR. On 47 minutes the race saw its first full course caution as the #11 Dodge Viper became beached in the gravel, while the #25 Ford GT also ended up off the track on the same lap. The race went green again at 1 hr and 1 minute of racing before at 1 hr 15 mins the Viper repeated its earlier trick. Another full course yellow ensured, and with 1 hr and 19 mins (3:19 PM) and 53 laps, completed Nicky took the opportunity to pit, handing over to his brother Francesco who exited the pits with new tires and fuel. Francesco has had very little track time in the RSR this but was immediately into the groove and able to run consistent 1:25 laps.
After less than a quarter of an hour in the car for Francesco, at 1 hr 39 mins (3:49 PM) the third full course yellow occurred when the #66 Acura suffered a fire in the pits, and the ensuring caution period lasted for half an hour as a replacement medical helicopter needed to be in place before racing could resume. After 2 hr 5 mins (75 laps, 4:15 PM) Francesco pitted to change driver and tires and another slick stop helped Nicky to maintain the race momentum. At 4:55 PM the checkered flag was waved with Nicky crossing the line in ninth place in the #18 car which had completed 101 laps of the Mid-Ohio circuit.
Nicky Pastorelli (Holland): "The race went well, the pit crew worked really well and everything went smoothly for sure. I think we have made another step forward this weekend, we are moving in the right direction, and everyone is pushing together. The track was good to drive, just the odd bit of dirt where cars had gone off, although it was busy out there."
Francesco Pastorelli (Holland): "I didn't get much running at the pace in as my middle stint was affected by the long yellow flag period, but I was quite happy with my laps which were in the 1:25s before the yellows, and I think the team was pleased too. The RSR is an excellent race car which is very responsive to the driver and I'm steadily getting used to it, while the new bigger engine makes quite a difference with its extra power noticeable, and this is very useful at this track."
Roland Wall, Technical Director & Chief Engineer VICI Racing: "I'm pleased with this weekend, we have made a decent step forward in every area of operations and have closed the gap to the class front runners by around 2 seconds a lap. For the tire program this is a significant result and we now have to maintain the momentum and push forward. Kumho are working hard and I expect them to keep pushing. I have no complaints at all really, the crew were very professional and the drivers fast and consistent, Francisco's lack of knowledge of this track and very limited time in the car weren't noticeable hindrances at all as he posted a quick and steady pace before the yellows came out. We got no help from any race circumstances today, the yellows didn't help our strategy and no GT2 front runners went off at any point so we draw a lot of satisfaction that we ran a solid and consistent pace from start to finish."
Tim Bumps, Team Manager VICI Racing: "I'm happy with how the crew worked all week. We have spent time during the two month break integrating all the new crew and practicing our race routines. Under the direction of Crew Chief Alex [Zaric] the guys managed two perfect pit stops and their professionalism has been superb throughout the event. The team has made big strides; we are really starting to work like clockwork, and I'm pleased to now load up an unmarked car and start looking forward to Road America. It was also great to see our guests from Hughes enjoying the three days."
-credit: vici racing