Tom Anderson hopes for change in fortune
Tom Anderson has been around the track a time or two, if you’ll excuse the phrase. Co-principal of Lowe’s Fernandez Racing in the American Le Mans Series, Anderson and the rest of the team are hoping to make amends for what he called one of the most frustrating seasons he can remember following an LMP2 campaign that saw seemingly never-ending bad luck. The first step in turning that page is the season-opening 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.
Question: How do the challenges of running in the American Le Mans Series compare to others in which you’ve been involved?
Answer: The technology that this Series has available is by far ahead of anything right now with the exception of F1. Alongside that, there are so many more options available to teams with multiple tire manufacturers, chassis, engines and the other variables that come with it. It’s not a spec series like so many other championship these days. Part of your work is picking the most competitive package. Adding to these challenges are the length of the races. Even through the American Le Mans Series has fewer races than say the IRL, we actually race for more hours over the course of the season.
Our longest race is the 12 Hours of Sebring, which I think is the most demanding race in North America for several reasons, including the fact the track is based on a WWII airfield. Some of the track is quite rough, and it’s a challenge to keep anything together for 12 hours on that surface.
Q: How frustrating was seeing the work and potential last season only to see gremlins and bad luck jump up at what must have seemed like every turn?
A: In the eight years of Fernandez Racing, it was the most frustrating season we’ve had. We had a very competitive and quick car, but we weren’t able to put all the pieces together to capitalize and compete consistently for the championship and race wins. But we also were facing some strong competition and needed to step our game up. We’re facing new competition with the Mazdas this year and the continuity we have in our second year with the Acura ARX will be an asset.
Q: With new prototype entries making up much of the Sebring entry list, does this give your team an advantage?
A: To a degree because continuity is hugely important, that and reliability. It is bit of a different scenario for us this year. With a limited number of cars in P2, we took a hard look at what it is going to take to win the manufacturer championship and it’s a tall order. We have to win five races, be second three times and third twice. A big factor will be staying away from major incidents that would keep us from reaching the 70-percent completion rule to ensure we score points at every opportunity.
If we were to fall out of Sebring, for example, with the amount of points at stake there, we would need to win every race through Petit Le Mans and we wouldn’t take the points lead until after that race. It’s a bit of unique deal and I’ve never been in this situation, but it’s a challenge. And that’s what people in racing want - challenges.