Maassen taking street smarts to St. Pete
Sascha Maassen is as much at home on a street circuit as a natural-terrain road course. He clinched his first American Le Mans Series championship with a win on the streets of Miami, so he’s hoping for another strong Florida finish next week at the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg.
Maassen started racing on classic European road courses like the Nurburgring and Spa-Francorchamps, but he quickly adapted to the close confines and concrete walls of North American street circuits. In 2002, he topped the GT class in the American Le Mans Series’ street races in Trois-Rivieres, Miami and Washington en route to the GT driver co-championship. He also set a record GT lap for qualifying in Washington - in just two laps.
“There are two theories about me being quick on street circuits,” Maassen explained. “One is that I am driving carefully enough to be still driving at the end. This helps to be successful! The second one is that it suits my driving style, which always has been a clean, non-spectacular one. That is the best and safest way around a street circuit with the walls being a little closer than normal.”
Last year, Maassen carried his street smarts to the LMP2 class. He qualified second in class, third overall, on the demanding Houston street circuit. He was contending for second overall in the race when he was hit from behind, forcing an unplanned pitstop to replace a punctured tire. He regained a lap lost on the stop and moved back to third overall before a drivetrain problem took him out of the race.
Maassen’s goal next week is to finish the job and earn his first street victory in a prototype car. Driving the No. 6 Penske Motorsports Porsche RS Spyder and sharing track data with his teammates in the No. 7 Spyder, he is optimistic about his chances.
“St. Petersburg is new to the American Le Mans Series so I am looking forward to a new challenge,” he said. “Learning the track as quick as possible is the goal. It helps if you have three quick teammates trying to do the same so I can afterwards compare the data and learn something for the next session.”
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. The race will start at 5:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 31. SPEED will provide a same-day broadcast event from 8 to 11 p.m. MotorsTV in Europe, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia will carry the race live. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.