WILL UTAH BE THE FASTEST? That's the $64,000 question as American Le Mans Series teams ready themselves for the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels. For the first time, the field will ...
WILL UTAH BE THE FASTEST?
That's the $64,000 question as American Le Mans Series teams ready themselves for the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels. For the first time, the field will compete on the 3.048-mile, 15-turn perimeter circuit at Miller Motorsports Park for the fourth round of the 2008 season. And indeed, some in the paddock believe this will be the fastest venue in Series history.
"I do think this could be faster than Road America, and I think some other people are seeing it already," said Audi Sport North America Technical Director Brad Kettler, who will send out two diesel-powered Audi R10 TDIs in the May 18 race. "We haven't tested on that circuit but others have."
Among them is Adrian Fernandez, who will drive the Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b with Luis Diaz. Fernandez was part of the four-car Acura contingent that tested at Miller Motorsports Park last week, albeit in less than ideal conditions. However, he said he would not be surprised if qualifying at the track turns into a record-breaking session.
And just in case anyone's wondering, the fastest lap recorded in Series history is 135.353 mph set by Allan McNish last year at Road America.
"For sure, it's very, very fast," Fernandez said of the Utah circuit. "There really aren't that many corners but they are very high-speed. There are lots of fourth, fifth and sixth-gear corners. The G loads that we produce around there are significant. They are even higher than Road America. I think it will be one of the tracks that will be a favorite of both drivers and fans because they like the speed."
The perimeter circuit takes away the turning and twisting infield portion of Miller Motorsports Park, which measures 24 turns and 4.5 miles in its full configuration. But there is one hindrance that could keep the track from entering the record books. It sits approximately 5,500 feet above sea level which makes the air less dense and results in reduced engine power.
"It is going to be up there," said Gunnar Jeannette of Utah-based Corsa Motorsports, which will enter a Ferrari F430 GT. "I don't think it will be the fastest. But I'd definitely put it at the level of Road America and Mosport. It is very quick. Turns 1-4 are all third and fourth gear. We'll be running top speeds about as fast as what we see at Road Atlanta."
"I don't know what the top speeds will be. It's difficult to say," said Penske Racing's Patrick Long, who will drive a Porsche RS Spyder with last year's overall race-winner Sascha Maassen. "From a driver's standpoint, the flow of the track has been preserved or even increased. It's still Miller Motorsports Park and still has the impression of a fast track. Some of the tighter sections where it might have been tougher to get by a slower car have been eliminated."
The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels is set for Sunday, May 18 from Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The green flag is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT with live television coverage on SPEED. Live radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 and American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.