Pumpelly Qualifies TRG Mercedes SLR GT 14th at Autobahn Joliet, Illinois. (July 25, 2009) - Spencer Pumpelly qualified the No. 71 Circle B MotorCars Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 GT in 14th for tomorrow's running of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED ...
Pumpelly Qualifies TRG Mercedes SLR GT 14th at Autobahn
Joliet, Illinois. (July 25, 2009) - Spencer Pumpelly qualified the No. 71 Circle B MotorCars Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 GT in 14th for tomorrow's running of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Series Harrah's Grand Prix at Autobahn Country Club.
Circle B MotorCars together with TRG has presented the Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR 722 GT for its North American debut race at Autobahn this weekend. The sleek SLR GT is being driven by TRG sports car ace Spencer Pumpelly. Pumpelly ran a time of 2:31.311 and an average speed of 85 mph around the 3.56-mile, 21 turn Autobahn Country Club circuit located in Joliet, Illinois.
"The debut of the SLR GT is going pretty much as planned," Pumpelly said. "We knew we'd have some teething issues and some things to learn, so we had pretty modest expectations and I think we're meeting those. There are some things that could have gone better and some things that have been really good, but all in all, I think it's kind of as expected."
The team is new to the SCCA Pro Racing GT Series which is six races into their season, making debuting a new car that much more work.
"We've done a better lap this weekend than we did in qualifying. With our complete lack of any information on these tires and about the series and how the tires come in, I just don't think we have a lot of knowledge base to pull from yet, but we're learning every time we go out. We learned a whole lot that last session, so I think we're happy in that it's accomplishing our goal, which is moving forward with our knowledge base on this car, this tire and this series."
The team is working with a completely new SLR GT on shaved street tires, difficult for a car that can make close to 700 horsepower, which is producing a mandated 550 horsepower, restricted per SCCA homologation.
"It's the heaviest car out there and it's probably the slowest in a straight line. There is a long list of things that we can use, but the car is great. It's designed to run at a lot lower weight. I'm sure it will handle a lot better if we pull all the weight out of it. The motor is sitting right there. It can easily make 690 horsepower. It's now just completely choked down. We could probably get a little bit more time out of it with just a little more familiarity. All the progress that we've made so far this week is working towards building a good notebook on the car. But for now, we need more of our power, and we've certainly got to be lighter, because the thing is very heavy where it sits."
Pumpelly is learning the nuances of the SPEED Channel GT Series.
"It's interesting. The tire is pretty much the limiting factor. There's so little grip that it's hard for a driver to do anything but overdrive. It becomes a whole race of patience and staying under the limit. It's not really my kind of racing. I like to go fast and hang it out, but it's what the SCCA World Challenge is all about and we're here to learn how to play that game.
The driver from Suwanee, Georgia is also learning a new track.
"The track could use a straightaway or two. Or, they could just go the other way and they could put in another 22 turns and just make it a big autocross. I think the people here are great. I like the facility. They've done a nice job with everything. It's really neat to see the buildings and how people setup the garages here. They are doing a great job with their first pro event here."
Peter Blom, No. 71 Circle B Motorcars SLR 722 GT car owner, is enjoying the team's first race.
"It is great to see the SLR GT on a race track where it belongs," Blom said. "We have been working toward this weekend for the past six months. It is tough to know exactly what to expect from the car compared to the competition until you are on the track with everyone. Spencer is doing a great job and Bill Rader (SLR GT program manager) is making the adjustments and improving the car every time on the track. I am looking forward to the SLR GT's first standing start tomorrow!"
Kevin Buckler, TRG owner, had introduced new cars before and knows what to expect. "We have been here before," Kevin Buckler, TRG owner said. "You always need to have reasonable expectations for a new race car until it is on the track you never know how it will perform in relation to the competition. The SCCA put some pretty stout restrictions on the car that I think they can see need to be adjusted. We will work our way through this weekend and evaluate where we are at after the race and if we can continue."
The team has committed to four races in the series including this weekend at Autobahn, Mid-Ohio, Road America and Road Atlanta.
The Harrah's Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda SCCA Pro Racing GT race will take the green flag on Sunday, July 26 at 3:10 p.m.