Mid-Ohio Thursday Notebook
Greg Pickett is still on Cloud Nine and doesn’t look like he’s coming down anytime soon. He was just as effusive following his first on-track session as he was when Team Cytosport first tested its new Porsche RS Spyder a few weeks ago at Infineon Raceway.
|Picket in Porsche RS Spyder|
“What a lovely, lovely car!” the former Trans-Am champion and team owner boomed Thursday during the American Le Mans Series test session for the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “It does everything so well. You really can’t describe how good it is. It’s still a little bit ahead of me but I’m catching up!”
There was a lot to celebrate for Pickett and Klaus Graf, who set the second-quickest LMP2 time Thursday at 1:13.549, a little more than a second behind Adrian Fernandez’s Acura ARX-01b. Support from Porsche Motorsport and Michelin never hurts, and the assistance from Dyson Racing (which campaigned the RS Spyder in 2007 and 2008) is chief among them.
“You know, everyone has been so great,” said Pickett, who finished on the LMP1 podium here two years ago. “Porsche has been great, Michelin has been great…we’re going to run the car exactly how they tell us. And of course Dyson has been fantastic. They’re a big reason why we’re here right now. We’re tickled to be back.”
CORVETTE’S DEBUT: Corvette Racing’s first test with its two new GT2 Corvette C6.R marked the end of a demanding yet rewarding process that at the same time serves as a beginning of a new chapter.
|Corvette ahead of Panoz|
The No. 4 Corvette was the first one built in December – with the process concluding in April. The sister Corvette was only recently completed and ran 200 laps at Gingerman Raceway in western Michigan, where the official debut photo shoot took place. To date there are only two cars in existence.
“We didn’t really do anything different,” said program manager Doug Fehan. “Based on the simulations we ran before this week, we had a pretty good idea how the car would react. We made some minor adjustments early and achieved our goals.”
“We're not running for a championship this year, so the testing we'd prefer to do in private, we now do in the public eye,” added team manager Gary Pratt. “We’re looking at the next five races as preparation for 2010. Our goal is to learn as much as we can. In a perfect world we'd have the rest of this year to test and then come out with new cars at the start of next season, but we felt we just needed to get out there and race for the Corvette customers and fans. We think we'll be competitive, but there are many good cars and teams in GT2. We know it will be a challenge, and we’re looking forward to it.”
DRIVING PROGRESS: If you don’t think racing improves the breed, ask Ian James. The Arizona resident and UK native is seeing today’s GT2 cars turn laps nearly as quick as his quickest LMP2 lap in the first official Mid-Ohio practice five years ago.
James’ best time in April 2004 was a 1:21.587 in a Nissan-powered Lola B2K/40 prototype at Mid-Ohio. BMW Rahal Letterman’s Dirk Müller turned a fastest lap of 1:22.496 during Thursday’s test session in one of the team’s two BMW M3s. This was the result despite the fact that the BMW is roughly twice has heavy and features production-based parts compared to a prototype.
“The development of the tires and tire technology has been a big reason,” said James, the 2004 LMP2 champion. “There is also more horsepower in these cars. There is continued development and evolution, which is tremendous for production-based cars.”
The Acura Sports Car Challenge from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 8 and will air at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 9 on NBC. American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche and Live Timing & Scoring will be available at Racehub on americanlemans.com. Radio coverage also will air live on Sirius Channel 126 and XM Channel 242. You also can follow the Series on Twitter (almsnotes).
The race also will mark the sixth round of the MICHELIN® Green X® Challenge. Tickets are available at americanlemans.com and midohio.com.