With Solid Test at VIR Behind It, AWR Is Ready for Sebring Opener FAIRFIELD, N.J., March 10 - In preparation for the Cooper Tires Championship Series season opener next week at Sebring, Fla., in conjunction with the prestigious Mobil 1 Twelve ...
With Solid Test at VIR Behind It, AWR Is Ready for Sebring Opener
FAIRFIELD, N.J., March 10 - In preparation for the Cooper Tires Championship Series season opener next week at Sebring, Fla., in conjunction with the prestigious Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Andersen Walko Racing (AWR) conducted a two-day private test recently at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, Va., and got a great deal accomplished.
Since there are so many cars and drivers involved with the team, which is based in Fairfield, N.J. and North Versailles, Pa., one of its private tests is like a mini racing weekend. Andrew Prendeville, Adam Pecorari, Mike Andersen and Doug Prendeville all tested Formula Ford 2000 Zetec (FF2000) cars at the VIR test. Danny Abbale, Chris Meredith and Jonathan Klein tested their Formula SCCA (FSCCA) machines, as did a guest driver, 15-year-old Robert Bunker. Abbale and Meredith were in brand-new cars that the team just completed, while Klein and Bunker were in the team's two older FSCCA cars.
Except for Andersen and Bunker, the team's other six drivers are all entered in the Sebring FF2000 and FSCCA races, three per event. The FSCCA race is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time next Thursday, March 18, while the FF2000 Zetec race is slated to get the green flag at 5:30 p.m. next Friday, March 19. Each will be a half-hour timed event.
AWR also tested at Sebring in January, and with the addition of the test at VIR last month, its drivers say they're ready to go racing and will be going for the victories at Sebring next weekend.
As part of the test at VIR the team experimented with new Van Diemen gearbox components in the FSCCA cars, and everyone was pleased with the results. Pecorari and Andersen also tested heavy-duty gears manufactured by Hewland for the Zetec cars' gearboxes, and they also pronounced them "excellent."
All the cars used the new Pi data systems with the new "X-Sport" dash displays too. Tom Remedios, one of Pi's engineers, was on hand at VIR to answer questions and ensure that the team has the equipment and the training it needs for efficient data acquisition.
Both Prendeville brothers and Pecorari are looking forward to the Sebring Formula Zetec season opener, which should be a barn-burner. If the VIR test is any indication, the Formula SCCA event at Sebring should be very competitive too.
"Klein, Meredith and Bunker were all very close in times at VIR," noted team co-owner Dan Andersen. "Abbale only had three laps and then his motor blew, but based on his performance at Sebring in January we expect him to do very well this year too.
"We don't want to jinx them, but we feel the drivers to beat for both championships are all going to be within our team," Andersen added.
"The VIR test went really well," noted Meredith. "It was great to work with Eric [Langbein, his engineer} and Russ [Sant, the lead mechanic for the team's FSCCA cars]. I was pleased with how the car was put together by Andersen Walko; they did an excellent job. It was fast right out of the trailer."
"Working with Eric [Langbein, his engineer] and the rest of the crew has really taught me a lot, and I look forward to a great season in the Cooper Tires Championship," agreed Klein. "The new Pi system that the team has is a really valuable tool that I was able to take advantage of during this test [at VIR], and I think it will help advance my racing to the next level."
Klein, Meredith and Abbale all have high hopes for the Sebring opener. Meredith is particularly optimistic about his chances in Florida since he set the fastest race lap of the FSCCA cars in a SCCA national event at Sebring in January in which both the Formula Zetec and the FSCCA cars ran together in one race. Klein is equally optimistic since he did extremely well at the VIR test, while Abbale can't wait to see what he can do at Sebring with his new engine.
Andersen and co-team owner John Walko were very pleased with what the team accomplished at the Sebring and the VIR tests and with how well the crew members are working together and interfacing with the drivers. Three new crew members have been added recently: Phil Wills, Ben Butler and Steve Siegel.
Wills, from England, will work as Andrew Prendeville's engineer. A driver he worked with last year won the 2003 Formula Ford Festival.
Butler will work as a mechanic on Andrew Prendeville's car.
Siegel, who worked for an American Le Mans Series (ALMS) team last year, is the team's new transporter driver and equipment manager.
In other team news, Ian Willis, who owns AIM Motorsports in Canada, will be the engineer for Mike Andersen when he competes in selected events. Willis won the Fran-Am championship last year.
For more information on the team, see the team's Web site at www.andersenwalko.com. Other Web sites of interest include www.sccapro.com and www.cooperseries.com.