Road America: VICI Racing qualifying report



Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - The #18 VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR will start tomorrow's Generac 500, the seventh round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, from the fifth row of the GT2 grid after an electrical issue saw the engine cutting out intermittently during this afternoon's 20 minute qualifying session. However the team is satisfied with the progress made during the last two days here at a hot-and-dry Road America, and with a tough 4-hour race expected tomorrow, we are ready and prepared for the challenge.

Today's action on track at Road America got underway this morning with an hour-long free practice session open to all the ALMS class in the build up to this afternoon's final qualifying. After the test session incident yesterday the #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was prepared by the crew last night.

All three drivers in the #18 car arrived here off the back off excellent results last weekend in Europe. Our new recruit, Marc Basseng arrived at Road America this week fresh from having been on the winning team in the G3 class at the prestigious Spa 24 Hours. Nicky Pastorelli was also in race- winning action last weekend: he took back-to-back victory in the Dutch Supercar Challenge double header at Assen; the former F3000 Champion and F1 Test Driver for Jordan and Midland is this year contesting a limited program in his native series in rounds that are non-clashing with the ALMS. Francesco Pastorelli meanwhile was back in single seater formula action.

Nicky kicked off the 60-minute mid-morning practice session on the 4.048- mile all-asphalt Road America permanent course by posting a 2:12.222 and 2:13.425, before after 12 mins running the first red flag was waved. It went green after 22 mins and the 25-year-old Dutchman posted a 2:10.852 after 27 mins, followed by two 2:11-bracket laps and a 2:10.754 (33 mins), which would be the best of the session. After 35 mins Nicky came in to hand over to Francesco for his brother to get his first taste of the circuit. The 21-year-old's cockpit time was hampered as a red flag was waved after 43 mins, but he was back out with 15 mins remaining. Several acclimatization laps later, after 54 mins, Francesco had a brief moment which saw him brush a tire wall and the team wrapped up the session at that point.

A second hour long practice session took place this afternoon (1:50-2:50 PM) with a following 10 minute break before the 20-minute qualifying session (3:00-3:20 PM). With a number of set-up changes being made Nicky took the car out when the practice session went green, posting a trio of consistent 2:11 bracket laps, before handing over to Marc after 14 mins. After Marc's incident yesterday when he had only run a handful of laps, it was the perfect opportunity for the German to learn the track and acclimatize himself to the Kumho tires. He kicked off with a 2:12.733, followed by a 2:11.860 and two more 2:12 laps before a scheduled pit visit was made with 30 mins of the session completed. Out on track three minutes later he ran a series of 2:12 and 2:11 laps before pitting on 49 mins. Back out for the final 10 mins an engine cut-out issue saw Marc return to the pits.

With just 10 minutes before qualifying took place, the team was only able to run perfunctory system checks. Nicky was entrusted for qualifying and he ran a 2:10.412 and 2:10.593, but with the issue still prevailing he returned to the pits. With a best lap of 2:10.412 (111.74 mph) the #18 car, to be shared tomorrow by Marc, Nicky and Francesco, will start from 10th place on the grid.

It's been a busy build up to the Generac 500 for the VICI Racing, with three races spread over four weeks this month, and more so as all the circuits are located considerably north of the team's Miami, Florida-based workshops. This week ALMS is in rural Wisconsin, and tomorrow's race will be followed by visits to Mosport (Ontario, Canada) on 24th August and Belle Isle (Detroit) on 30th August. For this trio of northern races the team has set up a temporary hub in Chicago located within the state-of-the-art facilities of As the world largest e-commerce automobile retailer, strives to provide customers with the best selection of new and pre-owned luxury cars through a unique and convenient online buying experience. The week started very early for VICI Racing personnel as a major coordinated logistical effort was called for to ship components of the workshop infrastructure up to Chicago to allow for the seamless operation of the team over the coming weeks.

This week for the first time we are also pleased to have in service the first of our brand new state-of-the art trailer units that have been fitted out to our specific requirements. It's a demanding inaugural year for the team in ALMS, but each piece of the jigsaw is slotting into place on schedule.

Roland Wall, Technical Director & Chief Engineer, VICI Racing: "We're in good shape for tomorrow, the team has worked hard over the last couple of days, and we're where we want to be. We have a good set up for the race and the tires are performing as expected. We have a good aero package and are running optimized levels of downforce. We expect a few incidents on track tomorrow so our strategy will be quite flexible accordingly."

Jason Myers, Motorsport Development Director, Kumho Tires: "We have been running the same tire compound here as we used at Mid-Ohio, and it seems to be responding well, particularly so with the track temperature being considerably lower here. We've been trying to get some laps on the tires but we have been interrupted by a lot of red flags during the practice sessions today and yesterday which have limited running consistent fast laps. It's a very demanding track, so it will be a good test for the tires. However I'm sure we will be able to run long stints in the race, and we are making further progress."

Nicky Pastorelli (Holland): "We've had a few minor setbacks during the practice sessions and have been somewhat limited in getting clear running by the number of red flags that have disrupted the practice sessions, but we're in good shape for the race. It's going to be really tough out there tomorrow so we will need a good strategy and to be especially careful and steer clear of potential trouble. I like this track, some of the corners are very challenging and its demanding on the driver. I have driven it before in ChampCar during testing two years ago but it's a totally different style to drive a GT2 car here."

Marc Basseng (Germany): "I'm pleased to have joined VICI Racing and be here this weekend. I have been impressed by the team when I have seen them earlier this year, and it's great to be working Roland [Technical Director] who I have a lot of respect for, and team owner Ron Meixner, he is very focused on the program, as is everyone and the team has good mechanics. I was disappointed to have the incident yesterday, but I hope we can now focus on the race and turn in a good result. The track is pretty hard; it requires a lot of concentration, but I'm enjoying it, although my knowledge is very limited still. I think if we can keep a good pace tomorrow and stay out of trouble we should have a solid race."

Francesco Pastorelli (Holland): "I've only had a few laps here this morning so it would have been much preferable to have had more time in the cockpit, but every track is new to me this year so I'm getting used to it. It's a nice track, some fast sections and some that are quite exacting; but I certainly like it. I'm hoping to turn in a solid stint tomorrow, without incident, and help the team to a decent result."

Tomorrow (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.

-credit: vici

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Series ALMS
Drivers Nicky Pastorelli , Marc Basseng , Jason Myers , Francesco Pastorelli