SEBRING, FL - The FIA GT Championship cars left Rotterdam, Holland on the 8th of October and arrived in Jacksonville, FL four days later. The ship sat docked in port with all the exotic race cars and the team's transporters onboard while...
SEBRING, FL - The FIA GT Championship cars left Rotterdam, Holland on the 8th of October and arrived in Jacksonville, FL four days later. The ship sat docked in port with all the exotic race cars and the team's transporters onboard while Customs officials enjoyed their Monday holiday.
FIA officials knew Monday was a holiday and the extra day was fit into the schedule. Teams were scheduled to arrive at the circuit Tuesday afternoon.
Several teams airlifted their cars to the states in order to take advantage of open test sessions on Monday and Tuesday.
Teams will drive their transporters 2,906 miles to next weekend's race at Laguna Seca. After the Laguna Seca round the transporters will report to Galveston, TX where the cars will be shipped back to Europe.
Fans are in for some changes at Sebring International Raceway when they attend this weekend's FIA Championship races. Track officials have started two new $10 fees for parking and coolers. The cooler fee is $10 for fans wishing to bring coolers to the circuit. IMSG president, Andy Evans defended the new charges in Tuesday's Tampa Tribune ( http://tampatrib.com ), "We spent $1 million upgrading the track and $1 million bringing the FIA Grand Touring Championship to Sebring and we're trying to get some of that back with the cooler charge and the pa rking charge so the fans can see we want to have the best shows in Florida".
Turns 16 and 17 have been tightened up at the 3.578 mile circuit. SportsCar has tightened the entrance and exit of the newly repaved Ullmann Straight. Mattco BMW team drivers have differing views on the circuit changes.
Veteran Pete Halsmer said "I really liked the way it used to be. It's kind of disappointing to see a couple of really challenging, unique corners -- that I don't think anybody's ever really figured out how to do perfectly, ever -- be changed dramatically".
Tony Renna, who makes his debut with Mattco Racing this weekend, likes the changes. "I think the changes are good. It's very smooth. I guess some of the old-school guys really don't care for it, guys who have raced here for many years. I've raced here quite a bit in Barber Dodge, but certainly not as much as some of these guys. For them, it's a loss of the traditional Sebring, but for me this will become my traditional Sebring".
Mattco Racing will enter the Indy Lights series next season with a two car team. Tony Renna will drive for the team while the second driver has yet to be announced.
CART driver Greg Moore will team with Klaus Ludwig in the Mercedes CLK GTR entered by AMG Mercedes.
Andy Pilgram has clinched the driver's championship in GTS-1 but the championships in other divisions are all up for grabs. In World SportsCars, Butch Leitzinger leads Elliot Forbes Robinson by five points. Larry Schumacher leads Franz Conrad by five points in the battle for GTS-2 and Bill Auberlen leads David Murry by four points in GTS-3.
In this morning's first practice, the Riley and Scott Ford of Leitzinger/Paul Jr./Weaver/Robinson was fastest with a time of 1:57.540. In this afternoon's session, the Ferrari 333SP of Hermann/Montermini was fastest with a time of 1:56.520.
In the morning session for GTS-1, GTS-2 and GTS-3, the Pilgrim/McNish Porsche 911 was fastest, stopping the clocks at 2:03.823. Atop the GTS-2 field was the Konrad/Ham Porsche while another Porsche topped the GTS-3 field with drivers Matthews and Murry.
In the afternoon session, the Ford Panoz GTR1 of O'Connell/Purner/Bundy/Leitzinger was fastest with a time of 2:03.523. The Rohr Porsche topped the GTS-2 field with a 2:11.708 anmd the BMW M3 of Auberlen/Leitzinger was fastest in GTS-3 with a time of 2:14.534
The Exxon Supreme GT series race takes place on Friday at 1:00 p.m., on Saturday the Exxon World SportsCar race is at noon and the FIA GT race starts at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets are available by calling 1-800-626-RACE
David Reininger - Motorsport News International