Utah: AIM/Doncaster Racing preview

AIM Autosport hopes to finish the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season the way it started, with a strong performance in an endurance race. The rookie Canadian team was fifth in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January; a similar result in the ...

AIM Autosport hopes to finish the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season the way it started, with a strong performance in an endurance race. The rookie Canadian team was fifth in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January; a similar result in the 1000-kilometre race at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, on Saturday would cap the season.

Brian Frisselle and Burt Frisselle of Lynchburg, Va., will team with AIM's lead driver, Mark Wilkins of Toronto, in the No. 61 Lexus-powered Riley Mk XI, carrying the colours of Exchange Traded Gold, Barrick Gold Corporation, RBC Financial Group and Telus' Mike Network. They will be bolstered by a cheering section of about 100 employees and guests of Barrick Gold of North America, headquartered in nearby Salt Lake City.

Barrick's chief executive officer, Greg Wilkins of Toronto, will have a busy weekend driving the No. 17 Doncaster Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the GT class with Dave Lacey of Toronto and Tom Papadopoulos of East Hills, N.Y., watching his son Mark in the AIM car and entertaining Barrick's guests.

endurance strategy

The 4.5-mile, 24-turn road course in the high Utah desert presents a number of challenges for drivers and crews. Using the data obtained during a two-day test last month, AIM's strategists have a plan they believe will be effective. Team co-owner and race engineer Ian Willis outlined some of the key elements:

"There are 24 corners, almost half of which are 180 degrees, with lots of switchbacks. This creates lots of driver-tiring G forces of up to two Gs each and every lap. Approximately 90 seconds of a 160-second lap is spent in corners at between one and two Gs. The DP car has 34 gear changes per lap x 139 laps 5226 gear changes in the race.

"The track altitude is 4450 feet, but the air density altitude is double that because the air is so dry. The density altitude is what we use to determine both aerodynamic performance and engine performance. The higher the density altitude, the thinner the air is for the wings and bodywork to make downforce. With 24 corners, the more downforce, the faster the lap time. The one long straight does not offset the amount of time spent in corners and at the high-density altitude, the drag is also less as well. The thinner the air, the less power you make and therefore you use less fuel, so our fuel mileage is quite good at altitude.

"1000 kilometres 139 laps 6.5 hours of green-flag racing. On pure fuel mileage, we could do it in four stops but with such a long lap, tire degradation also plays into the strategy. My guess is that we will be looking at five stops, which also fits nicely with a three-driver rotation. This year's race will be in the afternoon and even in September, it can be quite hot in Utah. The altitude and heat also affect the drivers, so shorter stints will keep the drivers fresh.

"The GT cars are almost 20 seconds slower per lap, so for both classes traffic will be a problem. For the GT cars, it will be important to maintain pace while the DP cars are trying to pass, and for the DP cars it will be imperative to get past as quickly as possible so they do not lose time. Not unusual for a combined race, but at this track, with so many corners, passing could create some tense moments."

-credit: -- aimautosport.com --

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Burt Frisselle , Dave Lacey , Greg Wilkins , Mark Wilkins , Brian Frisselle , Tom Papadopoulos