Wednesday Testing at VIR: Live Updates

British Radical champion Ross Kaiser - winner of the Sunoco Daytona Challenge - is testing Doran Racing's No. 77 McDonald's Ford/Dallara at VIR

DANVILLE, Va. – Competitors in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series had the first opportunity to test on Continental Tire rain tires as a light rain and fog greeted competitors for Wednesday’s final day of a two-day session at Virginia International Raceway.

Kaiser Quickly Getting Up to Speed (Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 20)

Ross Kaiser came to VIR to run a Daytona Prototype at an American circuit for the first time. The champion of the British Radical series also had to come to grips with driving a left-hand drive car. Kaiser quickly got up to speed, though. Unofficially the winner of the Sunoco Daytona Challenge was fourth-fastest in Wednesday’s afternoon session – only eight-tenths behind No. 77 McDonald’s Ford/Dallara teammate Brian Frisselle, who was second behind Alex Gurney and ahead of Darren Law.
“It’s been great running the with Doran team,” said Kaiser, whose prize for the Sunoco Daytona Challenge was a seat in a competitive Daytona Prototype for the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona. “Yesterday I was really getting acclimatized with the new car and the new cockpit and the surroundings, and driving for the first time at VIR. So I spent the first session getting settled in. In the second session, Kevin (team owner Doran) gave me a set of stickers and it felt pretty good. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”
Kaiser will also attend the Dec. 1-2 test at Homestead and January’s Roar before the Rolex 24 Jan. 7-9 before competing in the Rolex 24.

“This is a dream come true, really,” Kaiser said. “With our season all over back home in the U.K., all of my attention is on the Rolex 24. It’s a fantastic event. Without Sunoco, this event wouldn’t be available to me, so I’m looking forward to maximizing this opportunity. I’m looking forward to racing in one of the biggest events in the world – you get the broadest cover of drivers from all disciplines – it’s the best of the best. Including me as well!”

Neiman Enjoys First Run in Daytona Prototype (Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 20)
Seth Neiman is having his first test in a Daytona Prototype, joining Darren Law – his regular co-driver in the American Le Mans Series with Flying Lizard Motorsports – in the Action Express Porsche/Riley.

“What a fun car,” Neiman said. “I tried not to have a lot of expectations. I knew it would be a lot different than driving the Porsche RSR. The car is very fast in a straight line and brakes really well. Those are some of the differences from driving the 911. The rest of it is learning VIR (he last tested here in 2003) and getting used to a car that has a lot more downforce under braking and is a lot stiffer through the corners.

“The Action Express people have been very kind to invite us here and have some fun,” Neiman continued. “They’re coming to grips with a new tire, which is always a big challenge for a team. Overall, it was a good day. I got in about 50 laps and only ‘mowed the lawn’ two or three times.”

Neiman has not made any plans for the Rolex 24 after finishing second in GT in January.
“We haven’t decided what we’re going to do, but never say never,” Neiman said.
Law Learning the Porsche V-8 (Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 20)
Darren Law is back in a Porsche/Riley, co-driving with David Donohue in familiar surroundings. His team name has changed though – with Action Express taking over from Brumos after the two teams worked side-by-side last year.
The biggest change for Law is under the rear deck. After running a Porsche Flat Six since 2004, he and Donohue now have a Cayenne-based Porsche V-8 in the No. 5 (the old No. 59) entry.

“Essentially, it’s the same program as before,” Law said. “Brumos felt it was more beneficial to race what they sell, which is the 911, so that’s why that program moved over, and Action Express decided to take over the second car and make it a two-car team.

“The biggest change for us – or for me and David, personally – is that we’re running the V-8 Porsche. It’s actually quite a bit different. The drivability of the engine is different, the gear ratios are different, the amount of shifts per lap are very different, the rev ranges are different. There are a lot of differences between the two engines. It’s not taking us long to get used to it, but it’s definitely different. We’re also learning the new Continental Tire and what setups it likes, so we’re learning a lot of new things this week.”

Track Drying, Session to Run Until 5:30 p.m. (Updated at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 20)
With conditions improving and the track drying, GRAND-AM has extended Wednesday’s final session until 5:30 p.m. The open practice for DP and GT was to end at 4:30 p.m., followed by a session for Pro-Am competitors running until 5:30 p.m. That session is now open to all competitors.

With the conditions improving, 21 of the 22 teams have logged laps in the afternoon session. Only one team – Marsh Racing – packed up early. The only incident on Wednesday was for the No. 94 BMW M6 of Bill Auberlen, which pulled off with a mechanical problem.

Auberlen: No Problems Transitioning To BMW M3 (Updated at 1:25 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 20)
Turner Motorsport is testing the No. 94 BMW M6 as the two BMW M3s are not finished in time for this session. The team will have both new cars ready for the December test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bill Auberlen feels the time spent this week at VIR with the M6 will help the transition to the new cars they will race in 2011.

“What we learn here will apply straight across the board 100 percent to the new cars,” Auberlen said. “The cars are virtually identical under the body. The new Continental Tires are very different. The team has been working very aggressively, applying methodical changes and making improvements. We’re coming to grips with the new tires so we can start getting ready for Daytona.”

Co-driver Paul Dalla Lana was pleased with the test.
“For me, this is as much about getting seat time as figuring out the tires,” Dalla Lana said. “The team is closer than anticipated to the performance level we had this past season, and that’s a pleasant surprise. We still have work to do. It’s a different tire, and we’re going back and forth with the different setups. The new tires really help up well yesterday.”
Dalla Lana also enjoyed Wednesday’s Trueman-Akin session in the rain.

“This is only my third season of racing – period,” he said. “That was my fourth time driving in the rain. It’s a new experience. I was building up, feeling good in the car, gaining situation awareness. I was happy with that, and I’ll be able to push more this afternoon.”

SunTrust Testing With Chevrolet (Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 20)
While SunTrust Racing entered the VIR test with a Ford-powered Dallara – with plans to switch to Chevrolet prior to the Homestead test Dec. 1-2, over the past two weeks the team scrambled to install the new Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines powerplant in the No. 10 car for this test.

Ricky Taylor put in plenty of laps during the wet morning session. Co-driver Max Angelelli and Spirit of Daytona’s Antonio Garcia were the only other DP drivers to participate in morning practice.

“Conditions started out medium to dry, and then went to full wet,” Taylor said. “We wanted to see how the new Continental rain tires worked in those conditions. We were actually very surprised. They were very good. They didn’t have very much wear. When I was in the car, we had no issues at all.

“The new Chevrolet engine is working well,” Taylor added. “We had a bit of a setback yesterday. I had a pretty big over-rev, and that set the team back for the second half of the day. But everything is going well. We have no issues with the engine. We’re really happy.”

New Transmission For Mitchum Motorsports (Updated at 10:20 a.m. on Wednesday, October 20)
Mitchum Motorsports had a short day that led to a long net Tuesday at VIR.
“We had a transmission issue, right off the trailer,” said Joey Atterbury, who is joined by Dion von Moltke in driving the team’s No. 86 Porsche GT3. Providing coaching help is Randy Pobst.

“I went out of the pits on my first lap and I knew right away that something was wrong,” Atterbury said. “I nursed it around the track to prevent any additional damage and brought it in. We didn’t get a single-timed lap. The team drove to South Carolina last night to get a new transmission, and we put it in this morning.”
Atterbury said the team plans to run the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, and hope to find drivers to run in additional events.

“My focus is in our GS Camaro,” Atterbury said. “I’m looking to work my way into these cars. We’re very excited about next year’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. We struggled early on this past year, and were very competitive late in the season.”

Update From Autometrics Motorsports (Updated at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, October 20)
Autometrics Motorsports is testing at VIR with an eye on the Rolex 24 At Daytona – and hopefully, additional Rolex Series races.

“We’re learning a lot about the tires,” said Cory Friedman, driver of the No. 14 Porsche GT3. “We’re fairly content with everything so far. We made a few changes last night. Now, we’re looking over the car a little bit. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to go out in the afternoon sessions. We’re going to run the Rolex 24, and see what develops after that.”

Drivers Happy With Rain Tires (Updated at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, October 20)
Five competitors went out for the opening GT session, including James Gue in the Dempsey Racing No. 41 Global Diving Solutions Mazda RX-8.

“I thought the rain tires were surprisingly good, actually,” said Gue, who is the team’s lone driver testing at VIR. “I was not sure quite what to expect. Now, we’re running through a spectum of changes to see what setup the car likes in these conditions. So far, so good.”

Jan Magnussen posted the fastest unofficial lap in the session.
“It went pretty good in the wet,” Magnussen said. “The track is very wet. There are no big puddles – just a few dips – but it’s tough to do anything.”

Jonathan Bomarito ran in the No. 68 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda RX-8.
“Everything feels exactly like it should in the wet, and the tires felt good,” Bomarito said. “Now we’re working on car setup for wet conditions. The balance of the car from front to rear is actually quite good.”

Eight GT teams drove in the first combined session, with Ricky Taylor the lone DP driver to brave the wet, running 17 laps in the No. 10 SunTrust Dallara.


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