Trackside Tidbits – Tuesday
Trackside Tidbits – Tuesday
Aston Martin Racing and Drayson Racing, both on Michelins, are making their first Sebring appearances with prototypes in this year’s 12-hour race. AMR has brought Adrian Fernandez on board as a factory driver with Lowe’s sponsorship, and Stefan MÃ¼cke was just added Monday to the lineup replacing Chris Buncombe. Harold Primat completes the trio.
Fernandez, a winner with his own team in the LMP2 class here last year, compared the differences of the P2 Honda Performance Development ARX-01b he raced last year and the Lola Aston Martin now.
“It’s such a huge difference,” he said. “The cornering, you can’t take as flat as you would in a P2. It is a much heavier car.”
Jonny Cocker of Drayson Racing noted he still has much to learn aboard Drayson’s Lola B09/60 Judd, but said he was sincerely enjoying the experience. He said it was difficult to get into a rhythm in the morning session with the red flags.
Risi Competizione is on an unparalleled hot streak in GT2 in endurance races. With some combination of Jaime Melo, Pierre Kaffer, Gianmaria Bruni and Mika Salo, the team has won five consecutive endurance events. Risi has won its class at the 2008 and ’09 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans, and also the 2009 12 Hours of Sebring.
This season, Bruni has replaced Kaffer as the second full-time driver to Melo. Melo has now shared the No. 62 Ferrari F430 GTE with Salo (2008), Kaffer (2009) and Bruni (2010) in consecutive years.
A win this weekend would be the sixth in a row in events of more than 10 hours for the Michelin-shod Ferrari, which has received several updates from 2009.
“I will be very interested to see how the different manufacturers perform and also how the different tire companies do,” Melo said. “We know that companies like Dunlop have put in a lot of work in the last year but I am convinced that Michelin’s huge experience, knowledge and consistency – as well as all the work they have done during the winter – will put us in good shape for the season.”
Melo added the atmosphere at Sebring has helped contribute to positive experiences in the past and would again this weekend.
“Apart from the circuit – which is very challenging with different types of corners, always-changing grip levels and, of course, the bumps – the best thing about Sebring is the atmosphere and the fans,” he said.
He isn’t racing here, but IndyCar driver Graham Rahal was very much present in the paddock area. Rahal paid a visit to dad Bobby’s Rahal Letterman Racing team, and said he enjoyed being back at a track following a long off-season.
Both Rahals have competed at Sebring. Bobby Rahal won the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring, and a then-18-year-old Graham raced for his dad in the 2007 edition, finishing sixth in the GT2 class aboard a Michelin-shod Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
Rahal is slated to contest the next two IndyCar events for Sarah Fisher Racing and said he was hopeful of a deal for Long Beach, an ALMS/IndyCar double-header weekend April 16-18.