Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - Action on track at Road America got underway today with a 90 minute test session for the American Le Mans Series teams, and for VICI Racing and development partner Kumho Tires it was a useful and solid start to...
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - Action on track at Road America got underway today with a 90 minute test session for the American Le Mans Series teams, and for VICI Racing and development partner Kumho Tires it was a useful and solid start to proceedings with everyone keen to build on the all-round step forward that was made last time out at Mid Ohio two-and-a-half weeks ago, an afternoon marred only by an off-course brush with a wall that ended the session early and will leave the crew with some work to do this evening. However, the day's planned program, which focused on tire development and working on set up solutions ahead of tomorrow's official practice and qualifying sessions, was mostly realised as planned.
The 90-minute test session on the 4.048-mile all-asphalt permanent course today would allow the team's new recruit, Marc Basseng, to acclimatize himself to the team and the #18 car. The driving strength of the Hughes Telematics and Hughes Network Systems-supported Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has been bolstered further for this long-distance race by the wealth of experience that the German driver brings to the team, and he will join Nicky and Francesco Pastorelli in the cockpit of the #18 car for Saturday's 4-hour Generac 500. Marc, who had his most successful racing season to date in 2007, arrived at Road America this week fresh from having been on the winning team in the G3 class at the prestigious Spa 24 Hours last weekend.
Nicky, meanwhile was also in race-winning action last weekend: he took back-to-back victory in the Dutch Supercar Challenge double header at Assen, the 25-year-old 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.
Nicky, who is very familiar with the RSR and the tire development program, kicked off the test session, getting the running underway with two laps in the 2:12 bracket, before running a 2:11.797 after a quarter of an hour; this time would stand as the quickest this afternoon. The session was interrupted by short red flag periods; however Nicky was able to run consistent lap times. Approaching the two thirds marker he handed over to Marc. The German ran several laps on a track he was driving for the first time; but having to take action to avoid a spinning GT2 car, Marc brushed a wall causing some damage to the right hand front wing and he brought the #18 car back to the pits where the team ended their participation in the session.
"We were able to carry out tire evaluation during my stint and I enjoyed my time out on the track," says Nicky. "This is the first track we have been on that I know, having tested here in ChampCar two years ago. However it is very different driving a GT2 car on the track, you have to carry a lot less speed into the corners; but I got up to speed quite quickly, and I enjoyed it."
"This was my first time at Road America, and I certainly like the track, it's demanding, a good challenge for the driver" comments Marc, "However I didn't get very much time on the track as I had to avoid a spinning car, was forced to go onto the grass on the inside and then I brushed the wall. I'm disappointed for sure."
Tomorrow (Friday 8th August) sees an hour long late morning practice session (10:00-11:00AM) at Road America 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.
-credit: vici racing