Sebring: Alex Job Racing preview

Alex Job Racing Ready for Sebring with Three GTC Porsches Tavares, Fla., Alex Job Racing (AJR) is ready to take on the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race to be run on Saturday, March 20th. The team will...

Alex Job Racing Ready for Sebring with Three GTC Porsches

Tavares, Fla., Alex Job Racing (AJR) is ready to take on the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race to be run on Saturday, March 20th. The team will field three ALMS GTC Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.

The challenging 3.7-mile, 17-turn layout of the historic Sebring International Raceway will play host to sports car racing for the 58th time. For Alex Job Racing this is very much a home race. The team, located just 2.5 hours north in Tavares, has won the Sebring 12 Hour race seven times.

In the No. 81 Mission Foods/Alex Job Racing/Porsche GT3 911 Cup car will be Juan Gonzalez (Mexico City, Mexico), Butch Leitzinger (Rebersburg, PA) and Leh Keen (Charleston, SC). Leitzinger is one of the most experienced ALMS drivers in the field. He has yet win Sebring, but has stood on the podium four times. Keen is the current Porsche Club of America Sebring track record holder.

"I think the GTC class will be very good for the ALMS series and the fans," Butch Leitzinger said. "With the economy it is not a time when the factories are throwing money at racing and supporting full fields. The ALMS has brought in the GTC class where a privateer can come in at a reasonable cost and have great competition. For the fans it is a great opportunity to watch some exotic cars battle on the race track. The Porsche GT3s are not that far off, performance wise, from the GT2 cars. The series has put in parameters so there is not run away development, which costs a lot of money. In GTC a privateer can buy a car and it won't be obsolete by the end of the season. This brings stability to the series and security to the car owner. The top speed of this car is a little better than some of the GT2 cars and some of the prototypes. The braking and cornering will be slower, so we will have to give way to the faster cars. At Sebring you are never really completely satisfied with the setup. You have turns 17 and One that are extremely high-speed and bumpy, an engineer's nightmare. The rest of the track is much more conventional. If you setup the car for 17 and One, you sacrifice the other 80% of the track. Because those two are very high speed and long corners, you can't ignore them. That is why we are going to be testing for a nearly a week before the race."

"I believe the GTC class is a better option this year than the previous one because the 2010 Porsche GT3 Cup car is a much better car than 2009," Juan Gonzalez said. "Another positive point is that all of the cars are the same in the class. This allows for a nice mix of experienced and new drivers to the series to be successful. I have been racing at Sebring for the last 20 years, in Vintage Racing, HSR, SVRA, PCA, and PBOC. I have nothing but good experience at the track except when they cancelled because of the rain, like the last part of the year in 2009. This year it will be challenging because of the differences of speed between the classes. The key for me is to have a good team, starting from the manager, all the support mechanics, the co-drivers, the car, preparation and testing, which we have. We will have to be patient, saving the car, avoid accidents and keep the four tires in the track."

"I think the GTC class is a fantastic idea," Leh Keen said. "It's great for the series as far as car count goes and another class for the fans to keep up with. Also gives more teams a chance to take a great car like the Porsche GT3 and be competitive for a class win in races like the 12 Hours of Sebring, such a historic event. The competition should be great and with a team like Alex Job and co-drivers such as mine, Juan and Butch, we will be up at the front of the pack looking for that class win. It will be my first 12 hours of Sebring. I have done many PCA (Porsche Club of America) races at Sebring and currently hold the overall lap record for PCA. I've always liked the track. It has a different personality than any track in North America. Sebring may be one of the most difficult tracks for car setup. There will never be a car perfect for every corner. There are too many corners with different types of surfaces and condition of the surfaces. It's something that really is a science and an advantage when you have a team like Alex Job Racing to help you get it sorted. Just like any endurance race you have to be there at the end. Sebring is more like a 24 hour race concentrated into 12 hours. The track is very hard on the car. A consistent safe pace in the beginning will be key and being able to sprint to the finish line in the end will get us the win we are looking for next week."

Luis Diaz and Ricardo Gonzalez will drive the No. 80 Car Amigo/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Diaz is the 2009 ALMS P2 champion and will be looking to add a GTC class victory at Sebring to his P2 win from last year. Gonzalez is an open-wheel standout that will be making his endurance racing debut next week. Patrick Kelly (Minneapolis, Minnesota), a GT3 IMSA Challenge front runner, will be the third driver in the No. 80 for Sebring.

"It's a competitive class with great cars, and with the economic situation it is a great option for companies for the cost," Luis Diaz said. It is going to be very different to drive the GTC Porsche than the P2 car. It will be more demanding to drive. There isn't as much electronic mechanical and aero help from the car, plus the other cars will be passing us all of the time. We need to focus our setup where the grip is low, like in the turns that have the concrete patches. We will also have to be very patient with traffic."

"I believe that it is a great category (GTC) because of the combination of low cost and nice looking cars," Ricardo Gonzalez said. "It's not easy to create a category that combines these two qualities. I believe it will be a championship that will be nice for the spectators because of the type of car, and the low cost should assure a full field in all nine races. I have never raced at Sebring before. Normally a driver is used to racing at new circuits, but not knowing a track does represent a disadvantage compared to other drivers who already know the layout. Normally you walk the track before getting in the car. I have Luis to help me learn the track. We have good teammates that can help and we can compare data and make my learning curve much easier. For Sebring I would have to say that the fast corners require more attention (for setup) because they are very bumpy. This is where you can make a lot of time or you can lose the car and have a heavy impact. You have to put special attention on setting the car up to ride good over the bumps, which will help you feel more comfortable putting down the power down earlier. This being my first endurance race, I will focus on being consistent and having a good race pace. We will take care of the car and at the same time be fast. If you do not finish the race you cannot do well. At first I was not anticipating the switch to the Porsche to be challenging because open-wheel cars are faster and have more down force. After my first test I had driving the Porsche GT3 I found out that I was wrong. I found that driving a car with less down force, even though it is a bit slower, is very challenging. The other thing that I found challenging is driving a car with a high center of gravity, this allows a lot more movement in the car, which at the beginning I could not recognize if the car was moving or sliding. At the end of my test I can say that the car is a lot of fun to drive, but does require a lot from the driver in order to be fast."

"GTC is a great class that combines the rigor of professional racing with the driver oriented focus of a spec series," Patrick Kelly said. "I have raced at Sebring several times with the last being in 2008 where I was third in the IMSA Cup Challenge race. I think that Sebring requires a balanced approach like no other track. If you set the car up for Turn 17 only, it will not work well in 10-12 or three-five. If I had to pick one turn to setup around it would be Turn One. The key for us will be to take care of the equipment and drive consistently quick laps - not hero laps, just fast and consistent. Then, if all goes to plan, you'll have a car for the sprint at the end."

The No. 23 Battery Tender/Tequila Patron/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry will see Bill Sweedler (New York, New York), Romeo Kapudija (Chicago, Illinois) and Jan-Dirk Lueders (Barrington Hills, IL) behind the wheel.

"I'm thrilled that the GTC class has been expanded to the full season for 2010," Bill Sweedler said. "We have many great drivers participating in GTC so it should be quite competitive in the Tequila Patron / Battery Tender/ Alex Job Porsche. Sebring is one of my favorite tracks in the United States. I participated in the Patron GT3 Cup there the last two years and look forward to being a part of the 12-hour race. Sebring is the most difficult track, physically on the driver and car, compared to all other tracks we race on, due to the bumpy surface conditions. Clearly, Turn 17 and One require the most focus to insure car setup. If you can be fast there, typically the rest of the key areas of Sebring work well, especially in Bishops Bend. In my opinion, the drivers and the team have to be cohesive and CONSISTENT. If we all can do our part to insure we have a clean race, with a little luck, we should do well. Romeo and I are focused on the full season, so a good showing here will hopefully be the start of the balance of the season."

"The new GTC class is extremely exciting because the level of competition should be very high due to the fact the cars are equal, therefore it is up to the drivers to perform well," Romeo Kapudijia said. "I have been racing at Sebring for over a decade now. I have a lot of miles logged there and I have some great stories about this track. I remember my first race there in Formula Continental. I remember thinking how bumpy the track was and how much standing water there was on the front straight after it rained. After learning and knowing every inch of this demanding track, it is now one of my favorite circuits. My first win in automobile racing was at Sebring, in the rain and in a Formula Continental. Sebring has mostly been good to me and I look forward to adding to my successful finishes there in the AJR No. 23 GT3. Unfortunately there is not one part of the track at Sebring that you can focus on for car setup. There are too many high and low speed corners where you can lose a lot of time if the car is not properly setup, especially the corners that lead to the many long straight-aways where carrying a lot of speed through the corners is crucial. Patience! It's a long race and we just need to keep pace, stay out of trouble and preserve the car to be there in the 11th hour in order to win! "

"I welcome the new GTC class as it is very competitive, but affordable," Jan-Dirk Lueders said. "I do not have any racing history at Sebring, but I have been studying data, talking to racers with a lot of experience there and watching videos of the race. At this point I feel like I know it pretty well already. Most of the turns at Sebring are medium speed and there are lots of bumps. If we can find a setup that is soft enough to deal with the bumps, but stiff enough to allow us to carry a lot of speed through the corners, we should be in good shape."

Team owner Alex Job will have his cars and team ready for the challenge that is Sebring.

"Bringing nine drivers and three cars will certainly be a challenge," Job said. "We have a great core group of team members in the shop and we also have a huge extended AJR support family that we call upon on race weekends that know how we operate. We will have a full dinner table, but everyone is in tune with our expectations and we plan on being very competitive with all three cars. In each car we have a great combination of speed and experience. Each driver compliments the other. It will be interesting to see how everyone behaves once all of the classes are on the track at the same time. It will take some adjustment from everyone, but I am looking forward to a very competitive weekend."

-source: alex job racing

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Juan Gonzalez , Butch Leitzinger , Luis Diaz , Ricardo Gonzalez , Romeo Kapudija , Jan-Dirk Lueders , Lehman Keen , Alex Job , Patrick Kelly , Bill Sweedler
Teams Alex Job Racing