Sports Car Notes: Productive Test For Teams
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — While Extreme Speed Motorsports created a new identity for itself in 2013 with a pair of HPD ARX-03b/Hondas in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón P2 class, the team also maintained a long association with Ferrari in the GT classes of both the ALMS and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
The team was busy with both types of vehicles in testing at Sebring Int’l Raceway last weekend and earlier this week at Daytona Int’l Speedway. Drivers Ed Brown and team newcomer Ryan Dalziel shared the No. 2 Tequila Patrón prototype in both days of testing at Sebring and put in a full day on Tuesday at Daytona.
“It’s been very productive,” said ESM Director of Operations Robin Hill. “We went to Sebring and were only going to run one day there, but we ended up staying for two days. We had a lot of development work to do for Honda and HPD, so even though we didn’t get much track time there, we got a lot of things accomplished. We came here with the components they’d fitted to the car working very well. Unfortunately, the test did get cut short, but in the light of safety and everything else, I think it’s a smart thing to do.”
With no prototype to test on Wednesday, the team’s sole focus was supporting the No. 72 Ferrari shared by Boris Rotenberg, Mauricio Mediani and Serguey Zlobin in the GTD class.
“We were approached by Michelotto, who builds the Ferraris, because we used to run the Ferraris,” Hill explained. “We had one GT3 and two GT2 cars, actually, at our shop. We had a European team that was very interested in coming to Daytona and they put them in contact with us. It was just sitting in our shop doing nothing and we’d like to sell it, ultimately. They asked if they could rent it and if we’d supply some support staff to help run it.
“Why not? It’s just a business venture. Hopefully, it makes us some money. It might stem into something long term, you never know. I can have guys standing around the shop or they can be standing around here and putting our name out there, and that’s why they’re here.”
– Marsh Racing is making the step from the Rolex Series GT ranks to the P class in the new TUDOR Championship. While the red-and-white No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP may resemble the GT car, moving to the prototype has been a considerable learning experience for the team.
“Moving from the GT Corvette to the DP is a big change for the Whelen Motorsports crew,” said Eric Curran, who is co-driving with Boris Said. “We had a pretty good test at Sebring. This car is awesome. It’s a lot of fun to drive. It’s a different animal than our GT Corvette. This DP is fast, and all the bolt-on goodies are making it even faster.”
Both drivers had trouble physically adjusting to the car, though.
“The hardest thing for me is sitting on the right side of the cockpit,” Curran said. “That’s the way the Coyote chassis is laid out.”
Said has a different problem.
“It’s been a little slow for me because I have a hard time fitting into it,” he explained. “But Hendrick Motorsports is making us a seat that I’ll be able to fit in. I like the new car compared with DPs I’ve raced in the past. It’s definitely a lot more fun to drive with the downforce.”
– While entered in the Sebring and Daytona tests under the Horton Autosport banner, co-owner/driver Patrick Lindsey said the team is in negotiations for the return of Park Place Motorsports. Lindsey is testing with Jason Hart and Mike Vess as the team is working with his team’s new No. 73 Porsche GT America — with another car on the way.
“It’s been a pretty easy transition,” Lindsey said. “The cars are a lot different, yet pretty similar. It’s not like a big surprise. It has a new gearbox and new electronics. We’ve just been hammering out the little stuff.”
Hart said the car was tested at Sebring and Daytona “as delivered,” and the team will continue developing the car prior to the Roar Before the Rolex 24.
“The Porsche performed real well at Sebring and is pretty good here for a car that was bone stock exactly as delivered,” Hart said. “Now we can continue to work on the shock package and add a few bits to it. We’re excited to see the GTD field here, and I think it will keep growing.”
Park Place Motorsports finished third on three occasions last year with Lindsey co-driving with Patrick Long, finishing fifth in the team standings. The team is hoping to have a Porsche factory driver in its lineup in 2014.
“We didn’t have our share of luck last year,” Lindsey said. “We might have won Indy if not for a small mechanical problem. We’ve excited about the upcoming season.”