Miller, Maassen and Bell To Share No. 48 Chopard Porsche in longer races
The new, Dunlop-shod No. 48 Chopard Porsche in action at the ALMS Winter Test at Sebring
The brand new No. 48 Chopard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR from Paul Miller Racing will be in capable hands during the 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n, as Bryce Miller and Sascha Maassen will once again team up for the full season and will be joined by Rob Bell for the two endurance races on the schedule.
The three drivers began to acquaint themselves with their Dunlop-shod Porsche for the first time during the two-day ALMS Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway on February 8-9. And while there's still plenty of work to be done between now and the season-opening 60th Anniversary Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida on Saturday, March 17, the two days in Central Florida were certainly well spent.
"Obviously, Porsche has built an incredible car, as we learned at this test," said team owner Paul Miller. "It's still early days and we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we were really encouraged by this first test. We were not striving to set the world on fire and were treating these last couple days as more of a shakedown, but we are really pleased, not only with the car, but the new Dunlop tires as well."
"We were very busy these two days learning a new car and a new tire," added Bryce Miller. "The experience and speed of Sascha and Rob is helpful in finding an operating window for our new car and tires. There is still quite a lot to learn and improve on, but already we are starting our season from a far better place when compared to last year. The team has earned this opportunity and we are all looking forward to a new season."
Whereas last year's Winter Test was cut short due to a fire after just a couple laps, the Paul Miller Racing squad is much more optimistic after this week in Sebring. The team significantly improved its times in each of the four sessions of the 2012 test, posting a best time of 2:02.079 (109.110 mph) on Thursday afternoon. It was more than 1.5 seconds quicker than the team's fastest time from 2011, which was a lap at 2:03.525 on Lap 209 of the 59th Twelve Hours of Sebring.
"We had a very positive first test with our new Porsche and the Dunlop tires that are new for us too," Maassen said. "Even though the test was meant to be a shakedown only, we managed to go quicker than we ever ran before and we hope to have a lot more potential as well.
"I was happy to hear that Rob Bell will join us for the Twelve Hours of Sebring. He is not only quick, but he knows a lot about the Dunlop tires. We are now continuing to prepare for a hopefully successful race in Sebring!"
Bell was a part of the Paul Miller Racing effort at the Daytona 24 Hours this year and also when the team earned a second-place GT result at Daytona in 2011, but this will be his first run with the team in ALMS competition. The two-time Le Mans Series champion will compete in the full 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series as a works McLaren GT driver in addition to joining forces with Paul Miller Racing for the North American endurance events.
"I think the test went extremely well when you consider we have a new car and new tires to take into account," Bell said. "We made a lot of progress over the two days, ironed out some gremlins and found a direction to go in. It's all part of the learning process.
"I've worked with Dunlop over the past five years and know they are committed to winning. When you couple this with the ambitions of all at Paul Miller Racing, I think it's the start of a great partnership. We have a great driver lineup. We gel well and enjoy partnering with each other, which makes a huge difference. I can't wait for race week!"
The team will return to Sebring later in February for another test before the race week in March. The 2012 ALMS season begins with the 60th Anniversary Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 17.
Paul Miller Racing is among the top GT teams competing in North American sports car road racing. In 2012, the team will contest the full American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n, as well as the Daytona 24 Hours. The team enjoys a long-standing relationship with Porsche and welcomes a new tire partner in Dunlop this season. Paul Miller Racing competes with the support of three international sponsors in Chopard, IPC Information Systems and TOTAL Lubricants.
Follow the team on Twitter @paulmilleracing and @bryceracer and become a Facebook fan at facebook.com/paulmillerracing and Facebook.com/brycemiller.net.
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