Temperatures rose sharply across Utah today while on the track at the Miller Motorsports Park the build up to tomorrow’s Utah Grand Prix really heated up; and at 3:40 PM when the checkered flag flew on the 20-minute qualifying session Nicky Pastorelli had qualified the #18 T-Mobile® VICI Racing™ Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on the third row of the grid. It was a pleasing performance that leaves the team well placed for Sunday’s two hour and forty five minute fourth round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
VICI Racing™ is a long time established German/US racing team which has set out this week on its second year in the prestigious sports car racing series. T-Mobile USA is a leading innovator and provider of mobile communications. At the end of 2008, T-Mobile USA served more than 32.8 million customers. T-Mobile USA is the U.S. operation of Deutsche Telekom AG’s Mobile Communications Business, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of T-Mobile International, one of the world’s leading companies in mobile communications. T-Mobile is a federally registered trademark of Deutsche Telekom AG. Michelin is a technical partner of the team.
Tomorrow (Sunday May 17) will see the second outing of the year for T-Mobile® VICI Racing™, and following an excellent first race on the concrete-lined streets of Long Beach clinging to the glamorous waterfront in California, race two couldn’t present a more different picture and challenge, starting off with an elevation of 4,350 feet to Tooele, located just outside Salt Lake City. Just a handful of years old the Miller Motorsports Park is a unique racing amphitheatre. Snow-bound for the winter months, by May the white blanket has been rolled back and while the teams in the paddock and the fans out on the circuit boiled in the dry heat today, the whole scene was evocatively bookended by the snow capped mountains that tower up on either side of the flat, dusty valley floor.
In the #18 T-Mobile® VICI Racing™ Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (2008) this weekend are Nicky Pastorelli and Johannes Stuck. Nicky is back in the cockpit and kicking off his third year with the Miami, Florida-based team at this race, while bringing experience of the 3.06-mile, 14-turn Miller Motorsports Park with him: last year he drove the VICI Racing Porsche to a solid top-10 finish. Providing a perfect foil is Johannes Stuck, the 22-year-old is fresh from his excellent debut with the team at Long Beach.
A long day kicked off at 9:30 AM this morning with an hour long practice session. For the second year in a row the ALMS series is using the high speed ‘outer perimeter’ course here that eliminates all the twists of the infield section, providing the teams with stern test. Nicky took the car out at the green flag before the former Jordan and Midland Official F1 Test Driver handed the over to Johannes, the son of racing legend Hans Stuck, around half way through the session. After one hour of practice the #18 car had completed 25 laps with a best lap time of 1:49.880 (99.862 mph) which was set on lap 22. The heat here continued to build up as the clock wound down to the second hour of practice today which got underway at 2:10 PM. Again Nicky and Johannes interchanged in the cockpit of the #18. With the team running on Michelin tires for the first time here this week, the practice runs have allowed us to gather valuable data but starting from a zero base, so with each session the times have come down. The #18 car ran 28 laps during the afternoon session with the best lap being set on lap 12 in 1:48.535 (101.099 mph).
A brief 10-minute break followed the conclusion of the second practice before the qualifying session roared into life. Nicky was entrusted with qualifying duties and he turned consistent laps at the wheel of the #18 car with his best lap, a 1:48.599 (101.040 mph) on lap 5 of 7, putting the T-Mobile® liveried RSR into a strong 5th place. For the record the 26-year-old Dutchman’s out lap was a 2:11.472 (5 mins), followed by a 1:49.834 (7 mins), 1:52.460 (9 mins), 1:48.896 (10 mins), 1:48.592 (12 mins) and finally a 1:49.112 (14 mins) before he dived into the T-Mobile® VICI Racing™ pit box to conserve his Michelin tires as cars are required to start the race on the rubber they used during qualifying.
VICI RACING PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR
VICI RACING PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR
Ron C Meixner, Team President VICI Racing: “We are in good shape for the race, the team has worked hard to get us to this position and move our package forward since Long Beach. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and I think we can look forward to a good battle through the field. We are sandwiched by the factory BMWs so that shows the effort our team has put in. Nicky and Johannes have done a great job and they are both proving to be fast here. I’m also pleased that we have a strong presence here from T-Mobile®; it is really good to have our partners represented at the track. We have all the ingredients in place to build an exciting and successful future."
Roland Wall, Technical Director VICI Racing: “We qualified where we expected to here, in fifth place. Yesterday we spent looking for a race set up and I’m happy with where we are. Today we used the practice sessions to prepare for qualifying and we found a solution that was good for fifth place. We have split the BMWs and they have the advantage of testing here which we haven’t had so we can be pleased at where we are at.”
Nicky Pastorelli (Netherlands) #18: “I’m fairly happy with the time, we are improving with each session and the car feels good. The RSR works well here, it’s a good car. It’s handling well and we have a good race set-up. The Michelins have a lot of grip, especially into the fast corners which is important here so I think we are well set up to have a good race.”
Johannes Stuck (Austria) #18: “I am pleased how I went today and the progress I’m making, and I’m really enjoying driving the RSR here. This track is fast and quite technical; you have to hit it on the spot to get the lap right, and with it being a longer circuit there is more chance of you making a mistake. The driver does have to be focused to get the best lap. I like it though, it’s a fun lap to drive, a nice circuit. I’m looking forward to getting out there and having a great race.”
Race day tomorrow (Sunday May 17) begins with the 25-minute duration warm-up session (9:55-10:20 AM MDT) before the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix from Miller Motorsports Park goes to green flag conditions at 2:15 PM MDT. The 2 hour 24 minute-long race is scheduled to see the chequered flag being waved at 5:00 PM MDT. SPEED will broadcast the race starting at 10:00 PM MDT on the same day. American Le Mans Radio and Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.