Tooele, Utah - The ...
Tooele, Utah - The #18 VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by Ruben Carrapatoso, Nicky and Francesco Pastorelli is ready to start its first American Le Mans Series race tomorrow, the Utah Grand Prix, after coming safely through the practice and qualifying sessions today at a hot and dry Miller Motorsports Park. The young trio will start tomorrow's fourth round of the series from the sixth row of the GT2 class grid.
Meanwhile, the #5 car driven by Nathan Swartzbaugh and Craig Stanton will start the 2 hour 45 minute race from the back of the grid as the latter driver didn't take part in the 20 minute final qualifying session due to other commitments, leaving the pair facing a challenging afternoon's work tomorrow.
Saturday dawned bright with clear blue skies and quickly rising temperatures; and after yesterday's free test sessions the action in Utah would crank up today with two practice sessions of an hour's duration each (10:20 - 11:20 AM and 1:55-2:55 PM) taking place before the 20-minute qualifying session (3:05-3:25 PM) which would be reserved for the GT1/GT2 teams.
The program for VICI Racing and tire development partner Kumho Tires would focus again on allow the new drivers to continue acclimatising themselves with the #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and progress the tire development program which has involved new generation compounds being tested by the team this week.
Both practice sessions were rewarding for the team allowing them to work through the new compounds, although a minor clutch issue in the #5 car kept it out of the closing minutes of the afternoon second session and the 20- minute qualifying run. However with the car set to start from the back of the grid tomorrow as Craig wasn't able to take part today, the team was able to resolve the issue and begin preparing the car for tomorrow.
With the #5 car sidelined in the garage, Nicky Pastorelli was entrusted with qualifying the #18. With a conservative approach being called for, the young Dutchman ran four laps; and after his installation lap, he posted a 1:51.715, a 1:51.821 and an 12th place on the grid slot clinching 1:50.893 (98.95 mph).
Roland Wall, Technical Director VICI Racing: "I'm pleased with the new compounds Kumho have brought here for us to test, and with their commitment to this innovative program. We are moving in the right direction and now having two cars is going to help the development move forward. We have a good set up here and we can look forward to a running progressive strategy on both cars in the race tomorrow."
Jason Myers, Motorsports Services Director, Kumho Tires: "I'm delighted with the progress made this week, the new generation compounds are a step forward, they are very consistent which will allow us to maintain a good pace. In fact the compounds we brought here to try out well most likely will now used for the race, with doubling stinting being realistic. We have learnt a lot in the past couple of days and having two cars is going to be a very big help."
Nicky Pastorelli: "We have made pretty steady progress over the last two days. The car is working well and we got through everything that we wanted to. We know we can improve, and that the package has potential, so I'm happy with where we are for the race, and I think the upward curve can be maintained for the season. The team has done a great job. The track is nice, quite easy to learn, the tires are improving steadily, and so I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow.
Francesco Pastorelli: "This is my first race in America so I'm really looking forward to it. It's my first time in the RSR and at Utah as well so I have a lot to learn. Coming here is a big step up in my career, the team though has been very supportive and my team mates are good drivers too so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Ruben Carrapatoso: "I'm pleased to get some decent running done in the RSR at last, it's been great to be out on the track and the tires are better since I tried the car at St. Petersburg. It's nice to be in ALMS, the standards are very high here and I think this track should be good for us, I look forward to us having a good race tomorrow, I think we can get a good result."
Nathan Swartzbaugh: "With my team mate Craig unable to be here until tonight due to his other racing commitments I have shouldered the tire testing burden which has given me plenty of track time so I know the layout pretty well now. The car feels good and I think we can have a good race tomorrow. It's a pity we have to start right from the back of the grid but I'm looking forward to a good fight up the field."
Tomorrow (Sunday May 18) the action at the Miller Motorsports Park gets underway with a 25-minute warm up session which is scheduled for 8:00-8:25 AM, before the Utah Grand Prix, the fourth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, goes to green flag at 1:05 PM. The race is scheduled to last for 2 hours and 45 minutes with the checkered flag being waved at 3:50 PM.
Live television coverage will be presented by SPEED TV. 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.
VICI Racing is delighted to welcome a new partner on board this weekend: luxurymotors.com is the world's largest online luxury car retailer and will be supporting the team this season.