Sebring: Orbit Racing preview

podium pursuit Orbit Racing will count on driver and crew experience to chase success at the 12 Hours of Sebring, first race in the 2003 American Le Mans Series. The team, based in Jupiter, Fla., will field two Porsche 911 GT3 RS cars in the ...

podium pursuit

Orbit Racing will count on driver and crew experience to chase success at the 12 Hours of Sebring, first race in the 2003 American Le Mans Series. The team, based in Jupiter, Fla., will field two Porsche 911 GT3 RS cars in the March 15 endurance race in Sebring, Fla. The No. 43 YES Network entry will be driven by Leo Hindery of New York, Peter Baron of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb of Germany. Mike Fitzgerald of Fountain Hills, Ariz., will join Jay and Joe Policastro of Latrobe, Pa., in the No. 42 Classic Industries Porsche.

The drivers know the challenge of racing on the historic 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway. "Sebring is very hard for the driver and the car," Lieb noted. "Normally it is pretty hot for the race and the track is really bumpy. The setup for the car has to be perfect for the race to feel comfortable. If you struggle with bad handling in the race, it is tough!"

But, he notes, "It is definitely something special to race there. Orbit is doing a great job and Leo, Peter and I are all very motivated. I think it's time for a podium finish."

old to new

The father/son duo of Joe and Jay Policastro have raced historic cars at Sebring, but this will be their first sports-car race at the track. Their previous races were in a 1974 Porsche 911 RSR and a 1981 Porsche 935 Twin Turbo with double the horsepower of the Orbit cars.

The difference between historic and current race cars? "It's like driving a stage-coach and a production car," Joe Policastro explained. "Then there was a lot of raw horsepower, now we have refined horsepower and handling. It was manageable handling before, but not at the limit today's cars have. We're starting out with brand-new cars, with all the improvements that have been made over the years, so it should present something wonderful."

hot view

Sebring track and weather conditions demand unique solutions to ensure cars and drivers survive the grueling race. Orbit Racing's crew has focused on suspension components to beat the bumps and added heated windshields to combat the changing weather.

"The track conditions are very rough," technical director Tim Munday acknowledged. "We have to specially tune the suspension systems on the cars to be able to take the bumps and allow the drivers to stay in one piece for the whole race. It puts a lot of fatigue into the drivers if the car is very harse over the bumps.

"The weather always comes into play at Sebring. It can rain heavily all of a sudden. The cars run quite happily in the rain, but the drivers normally can't see where they're going because of windscreen-clearing problems. We don't have heater systems in the car to blow hot air onto the windshield, so we've added electrically heated windshields for this race."

online

Orbit Racing updates, information and photos are at www.orbitracing.com.

-or/sp-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Leo Hindery , Peter Baron , Marc Lieb , Joseph Policastro Jr.