Sebring: Kumho debut was a success

KUMHO Wins in ALMS Debut at Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Sedbring, Fla. - KUMHO captured the LMP2 class win at the 53rd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, held March 19 at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Teamed with ...

KUMHO Wins in ALMS Debut at Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring

Sedbring, Fla. - KUMHO captured the LMP2 class win at the 53rd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, held March 19 at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Teamed with defending class champion Miracle Motorsports and drivers Jeff Bucknum, Ian James and Chris McMurry, KUMHO's new tires for Miracle's Courage C-65 prototype performed flawlessly, helping the team win Sebring for the second straight year and giving KUMHO a win in its first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race.

"The tires performed as they were intended to," said KUMHO motorsports manager Rudy Consolacion. "The only issue we had was two punctures caused by debris. Fortunately they both happened at the same time and in a great location, just before the pit entrance, and Ian was able to duck into the pits for a tire change without losing much time and without damaging the car.

"We signed a contract with Miracle at the end of December, so our development schedule has been extremely compressed," noted Consolacion. "In two months we built molds and conducted two tests with four different compounds and constructions. We were very pleased with how the tires performed and how they held up."

The Miracle team ran double stints on the tires, and one set ran two-and-one-half stints-72 laps, nearly 270 miles at speeds up to 180 mph. When the crew finally pulled the tires off the car, Miracle tire engineer Jerry Burns said "The tires look good, real good. We could do another stint on them."

Burns, who's been involved in motorsports as a tire engineer since 1966, is still having fun. "I'm enjoying working with the KUMHO guys," he said. "It's fun to work with an up-and-coming team."

The Miracle drivers concurred with Burns.

"A lot of people wondered what the heck we were doing switching from a 'known' tire to KUMHO because they were new to the series," said driver Chris McMurry after the race. "But the tires were awesome."

"The biggest change in the car from last year is the tire manufacturer," said Ian James, who drove to a class championship with Miracle in 2004. "KUMHO has done a great job in a very short amount of time."

"We feel great working with KUMHO," said Jeff Bucknum. "We were confident before the race because we knew they would do the job. The tires performed great and were very drivable the whole time."

After Thursday's qualifying session was cancelled due to heavy rain, the cars were gridded according to their practice times. Bucknum's best lap of 1:54.792 put the Miracle car sixth on the grid overall and second in class. He bested that time during the race with a lap time of 1:54.502, good for the seventh fastest lap time of the race.

The Miracle car completed 311 laps of the 3.7 mile circuit, covering a total of 1,150.7 miles in 12 hours. The team finished the race in 12th position overall in the 38-car field. The car spent nearly 40 minutes in the pits making unexpected repairs on a broken alternator and a loose steering column. Without those problems, the team would have completed roughly another 20 laps, which would have placed the car sixth overall.

The next race in the American Le Mans Series is April 15-17 at Road Atlanta. KUMHO and Miracle Motorsports plan to test again before that rest to continue developing the car and tires.

NOTE: A record crowd of over 100,000 people attended the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Track officials had to cut off access to the track through the main gate at 10:30 a.m., the earliest time in the history of the race, and divert traffic to an off-site parking area to accommodate the overflow crowd.

Established in 1960, KUMHO TIRE CO., INC., of Seoul, South Korea, had 2004 sales of $1.6 billion. KUMHO manufactures and distributes a complete line of tires for passenger cars, light trucks and heavy duty trucks. KUMHO has manufacturing facilities in Korea and China and operates technical centers in Birmingham, England, and Akron, Ohio. For more information, visit the KUMHO TIRE USA Web site at www.Kumhotireusa.com.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Ian James , Chris McMurry , Jeff Bucknum