Sebring: Fernandez Racing preview

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Ready for ALMS Season-Opener The American Le Mans Series opens its new season of competition with one of the most challenging races on its 2009 calendar -- the 57th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Steeped in ...

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Ready for ALMS Season-Opener

The American Le Mans Series opens its new season of competition with one of the most challenging races on its 2009 calendar -- the 57th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Steeped in tradition, the endurance classic not only commands the utmost from drivers contesting the extremely fast and bumpy road course but from their machines as well.

Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz return to the cockpit of the #15 Lowe's Acura ARX-01b LMP2 prototype on Michelin tires, and are preparing for their third Twelve Hours of Sebring. The pair reached the 12-hour mark in both of their previous starts with impressive results, and continuity within the team -- in terms of both personnel and equipment -- have Fernandez and Diaz optimistic for another strong showing.

Of Note:

* Lowe's Fernandez Racing enters its third season of ALMS competition in 2009

* Fernandez and Diaz finished second in class and third overall in their 2007 debut at Sebring

* The team's second-place overall finish at Sebring in 2008 was nullified after failing an engine stall test in post-race technical inspection

* Fernandez and Diaz will share driving duties at Sebring

* The team last tested at Sebring on February 19

* Lowe's Fernandez Racing enters its second season as a full Acura-factory effort in 2009 after moving from a Lola chassis at the end of 2007

* To conform with 2009 ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest) rules, modifications to the #15 Lowe's Acura during the off-season include an additional 110 pounds of weight (now 1870 pounds), a 10 percent smaller engine intake restrictor (now 40.7mm) and a 5mm increased rear Gurney flap (now 20mm)

* In 23 career ALMS starts to date, Fernandez and Diaz have claimed five podium finishes and 10 top-five results

Fernandez on the new season: "I am really excited to get things underway. 2007 was our first season in the ALMS and, obviously, a learning year, and last season we came to Sebring with a new equipment package with the ARX chassis. This is the first time that we enter a new season without a learning curve, and we're ready to hit it hard. As for the race, I feel that we are well-prepared. Because of the challenges of Sebring, we spent a considerable amount of time testing here. The lure of endurance racing is the challenge of going the distance and every driver wants to win this race. After the frustrating season we had in 2008, we are more than ready to get this year started and eager to fight for wins."

Fernandez on using only two drivers at Sebring: "We had originally planned on Michel [Jourdain Jr.] as our third driver at Sebring, and he has done a good job for us in testing. But when we started taking a hard look at strategy and what's at stake in this race points-wise with the extra points, we realized a third driver could complicate things. Luis and I have done this race on our own the last two years and we were very successful. After reviewing different scenarios and even small things like needing a seat insert during driver changes because Michel is bigger than Luis and I, which could cost us time in the pits, we decided to stick to a formula we know works."

Fernandez on the history of Sebring: "It is very special to race at Sebring; an honor really. I always think of the Rodriguez brothers -- Pedro and Ricardo -- who are heroes of mine, competing here. It means a lot to come to Sebring and try to do what these guys did."

Diaz on the challenges of Sebring: "Sebring is one of my favorite tracks and that is because it is so challenging. It is one of the most difficult tracks that I have driven, and the race just throws everything at you. You have to deal with the physical demands of racing on a super-fast and super-bumpy track for 12 hours while trying to stay out of trouble and take care of your equipment. That's why it is so satisfying to finish this race, and to win it means so much."

Diaz on pre-season testing: "Testing has gone very well. We worked on some small changes with our baseline set up for the new rules. Conditions for the race are going to be different from when we tested here, but we have been through that before and know what we need to focus on. I think we will be strong out of the box."

Diaz on the new season: "It is great to start the season with a classic like Sebring, and follow that up with two popular street races at St. Pete and Long Beach all within a span of five weeks. These are events where we have been very competitive in the past. In a way, it has been a long off-season. We had some type of misfortune in four of the last five races last year and that just makes you all the more hungry to get back and show what you really can do. I'm excited."

-credit: fr

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Series ALMS
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Luis Diaz