Miami, Fla - VICI Racing and development partner Kumho Tires are preparing to head next week for one of the American Le Mans Series' most popular and historic events, the 4-hour duration Generac 500 at Road America, with one Porsche 911 GT3...
Miami, Fla - VICI Racing and development partner Kumho Tires are preparing to head next week for one of the American Le Mans Series' most popular and historic events, the 4-hour duration Generac 500 at Road America, with one Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and a further strengthened driver line-up with Marco Basseng joining Nicky and Francesco in the cockpit of the #18 car.
The team will be back on track for the seventh round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) three weeks after it recorded yet another solid top- ten classification at Mid-Ohio, keeping up a highly consistent record for the Miami, Florida-based team which has seen its cars classified amongst the finishers in every ALMS race it has entered this year, apart from St. Petersburg where the team endured an early practice setback. Most importantly though, there were real, tangible results from the tire program at Mid-Ohio, where the latest development compounds from Kumho achieved a consistent level of traction over the full 53 lap opening stint. The event brought an improvement in lap times of around 2 seconds a lap. VICI Racing and Kumho Tires are both very pleased that the program is going in the right direction, but we are aware we have a long way to go.
Now the driving strength of the Hughes Telematics and Hughes Network Systems-supported #18 car will be bolstered further for this long-distance race by the experience of Marc Basseng, a proven sports car driver who needs very little introduction. Marc has been racing Porsches on both sides of the Atlantic throughout his successful career, and his intimate knowledge of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR will provide invaluable to the Kumho Tire development program. He arrives to join highly-rated Dutch brothers Nicky and Francesco Pastorelli who have piloted the #18 VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which is also supported by LuxuryMotors.com and Wempe, during the last two ALMS races the team has entered (Utah and Mid-Ohio).
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 first half year for a project which has been 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 far exceeded its own expectations during the famous 12-hour marathon as the new #5 car ran in a podium position for over four hours, and eventually 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 and hard work 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 getting both cars to the finish in the points sent the team into the early summer break continuing to make steady progress. The team skipped round 5 at Lime Rock to concentrate on technical developments, before another points finish at Mid-Ohio beckoned during the last round.
VICI Racing heads to Road America next week as an intensive race schedule gets underway; the famous 4-hour race will be the first of three ALMS rounds to take place in August (to be followed by Mosport on 24th and Detroit on 30th). The historic Road America circuit at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, has been home to motor racing for more than half a century and the 4.048-mile, all-asphalt course is one of the fastest road circuits in North America. Popular with drivers, teams and fans, the Generac 500 next Saturday (August 9th) is the seventh round of the 2008 ALMS.
Ron Meixner, Team President, VICI Racing: "I'm pleased with the step forward in competitiveness that we made at Mid-Ohio. The team has been working hard in every area all year and I'm confident we have all the right personnel in place to take us forward. I'm delighted that Marc [Basseng] will be joining the driving line up, and his experience with the RSR will be useful and superbly compliment the excellent pace of Nicky and Francesco."
Roland Wall, Technical Director, VICI Racing: "Road America throws up another set of interesting variables in our development program, and we arrive having seen real concrete improvements at the last race. This is the quickest track in the series with several fast straights and pretty smooth, it's quite European-like really. Achieving low downforce will be the key here, and we will work the aerodynamic set up with a close focus on the new compounds Kumho will bring for this race. Kumho are pushing very hard with development, last time out at Lexington we had a huge step forward in durability with the tires performing at a consistent level of traction over the full 53 lap opening stint, and I expect the tires to continue improving at this race. We are working hard on aerodynamic and geometry parts to improve the car; while SACHS are putting a lot of effort in and doing everything we ask of them. The power of the new 4.0-litre engine will also be an important factor on the Road America track."
Jason Myers, Motorsport Development Director, Kumho Tires: "Road America presents challenges to both tires and team, I'm confident that our progress will keep the momentum headed in the right direction. This is an ongoing development program and we intend to keep with our plan and introduce new options for the team at Road America as we collect valuable data along the way. It's difficult to do development through the season in the ALMS because the competition is top notch, the race results don't always tell the whole story of the achievements behind the scenes. We were pleased with Mid Ohio for different reasons than overall results as this is a learning year for Kumho Tires and VICI Racing as technical partners. The upgrade in performance with a 4.0 litre motor is a huge improvement and we know we still have work to do on our end. Kumho Tires is a small company committed to doing big things, this race will be another opportunity to collect data and advance our products for the future."
Marc Basseng (Germany): "It's great to be joining VICI Racing and I'm relishing the chance to actively contribute to the tire development program. The team has impressed me from what I have seen of them in the ALMS this year, they're coming on race by race, and I know that Ron Meixner is very focused on winning. I'm also looking forward to working with Technical Director Roland Wall, he is one of the best guys in the business and very good at getting the most out of a car. Now I can't wait to get on track at Road America and contribute to the team's progress."
Nicky Pastorelli (Holland): "I'm really looking forward to Road America. It's regarded as one of America's most prestigious sports car races so it will be great to drive there, and after Utah and Mid-Ohio it will be my first longer distance sports car race in America. It's also another new track for me, but after two races in ALMS now plus some testing time I'm getting used to the RSR much more and from what I've head of Road America the car should suit it very well. The team made a solid step forward at Mid- Ohio a couple of weeks ago and the car's pace noticeably improved right over the weekend; however we still have a long way to go this year, and a lot of effort to put in, but it's great to see that all the hard work is steadily paying off."
Francesco Pastorelli (Holland): "I was pleased with how the Mid-Ohio race went. This was only my second time in the car, and with Nicky in the cockpit through most of the practice sessions and qualifying I only had a very brief time on the track before the race proper. However the track was quite easy to learn and I was pleased with my race pace, although my stint was quite affected by the yellows. However I think the team was satisfied with my performance. The new 4-litre engine made a big difference from the unit which we used at Utah and the extra power was noticeable and useable. The team has stepped up since Utah too and I'm happy to be part of this project, so it's not just a learning year for me but for everyone. I've never been to Road America but I'm excited to get onto track, and looking forward to my first long-distance race. I think we can continue to improve and impress and hopefully have a very good race."
Action on track at Road America gets underway on Thursday (7th August) with a 90 minute test session (2:10-3:40PM) with the first hour open being to all classes while the final 30 minutes will be reserved for the teams in the GT1 and GT2 classes. Friday (8th August) sees an hour long late morning practice session (10:00-11:00AM) which is open to all classes, before a second hour long session takes place mid afternoon (1:50-2:50PM), again open to all classes. A brief ten minute break will follow before the 20 minute qualifying session (3:00-3:20PM) reserved for the GT1 and GT2 competitors takes place. Saturday (9th August) kicks off with the late morning Warm-Up session (11:05-11:30PM) before the Generac 500, the 7th round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series goes to green flag at 4:00PM. The 4 hour race is due to see the checkered flag waved at 8:00PM.