Alton, VA (April 11) Two of the world's premier sports prototype racing teams wrapped up testing at VIRginia International Raceway today as the Panoz Motor Sports and Riley & Scott teams refined their machines on the 3.27-mile natural-terrain...
Alton, VA (April 11) Two of the world's premier sports prototype racing teams wrapped up testing at VIRginia International Raceway today as the Panoz Motor Sports and Riley & Scott teams refined their machines on the 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit near Danville, VA.
It was the first visit to VIR for the Panoz team, which had drivers David Brabham, Jan Magnussen and Bryan Herta on hand for two days to work on systems testing for its LMP-1 Roadster S, specifically its engine management electronics and new paddle-shifter system. According to team manager Andy Waldrep, the team may be back more frequently.
"We really like the track," he said. "It's nice; the drivers really love it."
Despite the fact that VIR is well-suited to high-speed aerodynamics testing, which the Riley & Scott team is working on this week, Waldrep said that the Panoz squad was doing no aero work at all during this visit.
"None whatsoever," he said. "We're testing out some new systems this week, and making a lot of progress. We have a new tail that will be fitted up to the car when we get back to Atlanta, and then we'll get out and get testing on that before we go to Le Mans."
The team's lead driver, David Brabham, was all smiles when asked about his first visit to VIR.
"I think it's great," he enthused. "You've got some sections of the track here, like the Esses up there, which are flat-out in sixth gear [approximately 170 mph]. Just unbelievable! Both of us [he and co-driver Jan Magnussen] think that's probably one of the best sections of racetrack in the world."
Brabham agreed that VIR lends itself to high-speed aero testing.
"It's quite a long track, and it's got a long straight," he said. "I think if we'd had the bodywork here for Le Mans, it would have been a good place for us to test it, for sure."
The son of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Jack Brabham said he hopes that the team's test schedule will include more trips to VIR.
"Now that we've come here and looked at it, we've obviously got a lot more information about the track," he said. "It's obviously a place that we'd like to come back to, because we enjoy driving it."
Across the paddock, the Riley & Scott team was wrapping up its third day of trying out aerodynamic modifications to their MkIIIC in preparation for its first trip to France with drivers Marc Goossens, Guy Smith and Jim Matthews.
For team co-owner Bill Scott, it's always nice to return to VIR.
"This is our favorite place to test," he said. "We came here in 2000 with the Cadillac program a couple of times. It's a real good place to test for us; it's smooth, and it's pretty fast. Right now we're doing some pre-Le Mans testing; mostly aero work, and getting mechanical grip for a smooth track, because most of the circuits we work on have bumpy surfaces."
The next event for both teams will be the Le Mans prequalifying event, scheduled for the weekend of May 5, followed by the 70th 24 Hours of Le Mans over the weekend of June 15-16. After that, both teams will return to America to compete in the American Le Mans Series.
VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River 12 miles east of Danville, VA, and just north of historic Milton, NC. In addition to its 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit (which is also designed to be operated as two autonomous, full-service courses), VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club, and the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park.
VIR made history from 1957 to 1974 and is doing so again. The renovated original circuit has 17 challenging turns and 130' of elevation change. In addition to spectator events, the track is also available to rent for testing, driving schools and club days. Future plans for VIR include resort lodging and the VIR European Rally School and Corporate Motorsport Experience, which features three rally stages plus a kart track, motocross track, ATV and SUV training grounds and an advanced safari course.
For more information, contact VIR at 888-RACE099 or visit the track's website at www.virclub.com.