The racing season has finally ended for 2010. Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta last month was my final race in the American Le Mans Series. Although the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsches didn’t finish the race as high as we would have liked, my teammates Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long secured the GT driver championship. This is the third driver championship for the Flying Lizard team in the last three years. It was clear the Ferraris, BMWs, and Corvettes had the pace to beat us, so we will have a lot of work to do during the off-season. My plans in the American Le Mans Series are not finalized, however, but I hope my role with the Flying Lizards stays the same.
In the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, there have been a lot changes for me and my team. My longtime team, Brumos Porsche, has decided to leave the Daytona Prototype class and move to GT, the sports car class. Although I am happy for Brumos, as this will take them back to their racing roots fielding a Porsche 911 in the GT class, it was a hard move for me; I have been driving for them full time for the past seven racing seasons since 2004.
But sometimes change is good and our sister team Action Express Racing, winners of this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, have taken over our program, and we will now be a two-car Daytona Prototype team. They will be retaining both me and my longtime teammate, David Donohue, for next season and we are both excited to get back to racing. Our prototype will be using a different engine this time around. We are switching from the Porsche flat six to a Cayenne-based V8. I am really excited about this new opportunity and expect a good year with the new team.
After racing in two series and more than 20 races this year, I was looking forward to a little time off with my family now that we are in the “off-season.” Well, that’s just not going to happen. Since the Petit Le Mans race, I have already been to Virginia International Raceway testing the new Continental tire Daytona Prototypes are required to use next year in the Grand-Am Rolex Series.
The two-day test at VIR, sanctioned by the series, was the first opportunity for all teams to try the new Continental tire. It was a successful test. We still have ways to go on the development of the tire, but we’re going back later this month for more testing. This was my first chance to drive the Prototype with the Porsche V8 and, after driving with the Porsche flat-six engine for most of my DP career, the new engine transforms the car. The power band is much different; it’s a lot more linear from a power standpoint compared to the flat six and it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. The good news is that we have already brought the car up to speed, despite the new engine and tires.
I was also invited to the Global Tuner Grand Prix last weekend, as a guest of a corporate partner. It’s a competition for manufacturers, tuners, drivers, and teams, similar to Super Lap Battle in Asia and Tuner Grand Prix in Europe, but this was the inaugural GTGP in United States. The cars and drivers in each of the six classes (broken up into Street, Tuner, and Unlimited and then RWD, FWD, and AWD) compete for the fastest lap time. It was a good event, at a great track. It was a unique event because they had a big mixture of different tuner-type cars. It was successful and has huge potential. It ran after all the race seasons ended, so it was a great opportunity for all the different teams and drivers to come out and compete. After the racing ended on Saturday I attended a gala event, a benefit called Autism Meets Victory Lane.
Here’s what I’ll be doing next month: I’m scheduled for another tire test next week at VIR with Action Express, I will be in Dallas coaching some guys in Porsche GT3 Cup cars, I’m speaking at the 50th anniversary for the Ohio Region Porsche Club of America, and then I’m off to Homestead Miami Speedway for yet another test with Action Express. And this only gets me through November. As I said, there really is no off-season!
Check out Excellence-mag.com in December for my test report. I’ll let you know how it’s going and what’s involved in the tests that we run.