Friday, May 16, 2008

In Utah, All Systems Are A Go

After a three-week break in the schedule, the American Le Mans Series returns to racing action this weekend with the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand & Little America Hotels. Image Credit: The Race Forums

In Utah, All Systems Are A Go

Yesterday, all of the cars that are to compete in this weekend's Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels (this event name really needs a couple of more words – d’ya think?) unloaded from their transports and prepared three days of intensive competition.

Among the combatants is a recognizable name, but one that hasn’t raced in about five years – Gil de Ferran. If rumors are to be believed, in the rush to become a team owner/driver in the American Le Mans Series and debut here at the Utah Grand Prix with teammate and transitioning ChampCar World Series driver, Simon Pagenaud, Gil forgot to apply for his racing “driver’s license” which would sanction him to compete. He was issued the license just yesterday.

"Let's see, wallet, car keys, glasses, seems like I'm still missing something." Did Gil de Ferran really actually have to apply for a new racing license after a 5-year layoff? That's the rumor in the paddock today. Caption & Image Credit: Marshall Pruett

We could see him (Gil de Ferran) unloading the transporter in the paddock at Miller Motosports Park now … Ok, teammate? CHECK!, LMP2 Accura? CHECK!, Tools? CHECK!, Tires? CHECK!, Keys? CHECK!, Wallet? CHECK!, License? D’oh! (ala, Homer Simpson).

Today, the mountains around Salt Lake City will echo with the sounds of ALMS engines as the cars practice, to qualify Saturday for a starting position, and race on Sunday in the third race of the season and the first race on a dedicated race course.

This excerpted from The Race Forums -

After two thrilling races in the streets of St. Petersburg and Long Beach, the American Le Mans Series heads back to a natural terrain road course this weekend at Miller Motorsports Park. The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels is shaping up to provide a new set of challenges to teams and drivers, as the outer course layout of the facility will be used for the first time.

The 3.048-mile, 15-turn perimeter circuit replaces the 4.5-mile, 24-turn layout that was used in the first two ALMS races at Miller. It eliminates the tight and twisty bits starting at the Turn 7 complex (Demon, Devil and Diablo), and cuts straight through to Turn 16 (First Attitude). A number of teams have run laps on the new layout, including all four Acuras, as well as Penske Racing and B-K Motorsports. And some drivers believe the new layout could make it the fastest track on the Series' calendar.

Adrian Fernandez in his Lowes livery ALMS machine. Image Credit: Thawley 2008 via The Race Forums

"For sure, it's very, very fast," Lowe's Fernandez Racing driver/co-owner Adrian Fernandez said of the Utah circuit. "There really aren't that many corners but they are very high-speed. There are lots of fourth, fifth and sixth-gear corners. The G loads that we produce around there are significant. They are even higher than Road America. I think it will be one of the tracks that will be a favorite of both drivers and fans because they like the speed."
de Ferran Motorsports’ Panasonic-sponsored assault on the LMP2 class of the American Le Mans Series kicks off this weekend when former Indy 500 winner and two-time CART Champion Gil de Ferran joins forces with young French star Simon Pagenaud for the team’s debut at Miller Motorsports Park aboard their Acura Acura ARX-01b.

Gil de Ferran looking forward to his first race as a team owner/driver in his Panasonic livery LMP2 machine. Image Credit: The Race Forums

“Everyone has put in a lot of hours in creating this team and it is great for all involved to see the fruits of our labors become a reality. We have already completed a test at Miller Motorsports Park and we are as prepared as we could have hoped for, considering the short life span of the team.

“For me, the weekend will be very emotionally charged but after five years out of the seat, it has been a bit like putting on an old comfortable pair of shoes – in a way this will be an exercise in trying to pretend that the last five years didn’t happen.

“I really have to thank all the team members, suppliers, HPD engineers who work on the Acura program and the guys from Panasonic who have made this all possible. We are all entering unchartered waters, but all the team, Simon and myself are really looking forward to the weekend.”

“I am really looking forward for my first race with the de Ferran Motorsport and Acura. I am amazed that we are about to go racing and six weeks ago I saw the workshop with nothing inside.

“Gil is a real professor. I am learning so much beside him and feel like the approach of my job is getting better and better everytime i talk with him.This week end will be my first endurance race. There are lots of details in that kind of racing and it is never easy to put everything together. Salt lake city is a beautiful track where you get to flirt with the limit of our Acura car a lot in all those fast corners. It is a high G s track with some banking, it makes the driving very interesting.”
Reference Here>>

The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels is set for Sunday, May 18 from Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The green flag is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT with live television coverage on SPEED. Live radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 and American Le Mans Radio at, which also will feature IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring.

UPDATE - Friday 5-16-2008 Practice:

At the end of the day’s practice, “rookie” team owner and new driver to the American Le Mans Series, Gil de Ferran, out paced all drivers on the track. Gil not only was the best in practice on the day, he was the best by nearly a half a second and .62mph ... a grand debut from a team that is barely two months old.

This mark can not be all that surprising from the driver that holds the all time speed recorded during a qualifying session. October 28, 2000: Gil de Ferran, during a closed track session, set the record first established by Mauricio Gugelmin with a blazing speed of 241.428 mph.

... notes from The EDJE

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