Motorsport News - US
No. 48 Dunlop,Chopard,TOTAL Porsche Team Prepared To Resume ALMS Season
28th June 2012
Miller and Maassen Learn More About New Car, New Tires in Test Sessions
It's been quite a while since Round 3 of the 10-race 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 12, but there's light at the end of the tunnel with Round 4 slated for the end of next week at Lime Rock Park.
The traditional "Le Mans break" in the ALMS schedule has given Paul Miller Racing and drivers Bryce Miller and Sascha Maassen an opportunity to get better acquainted with their No. 48 Dunlop/Chopard/TOTAL Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The team participated in test sessions at Virginia International Raceway on June 6-7 and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on June 12-13.
Mid-Ohio will host Round 6 of the season on August 4, and VIR hosts its inaugural ALMS event - and the second-to-last race of the season - on September 15. The No. 48 Porsche ran more than 350 miles during the tests.
"I think the tests were really a productive success for us," said Bryce Miller. "It was really good to have this time for testing purposes with the Le Mans down time. I think it was beneficial to us to try to improve the tire and improve what is a brand-new model year Porsche. I think we closed the gap on both those things and I'm pretty excited about where we are. It's all moving in the right direction."
"Testing was important and good," added Maassen. "We are still exploring the potential of our new package with the Dunlop tires and the 2012 Porsche GT3 RSR. We made some progress, and we hope to be closer to the competition again in Lime Rock. Of course, other teams have also made improvements in testing, but we will continue to push hard."
One of the most exciting developments for Paul Miller Racing since the race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May was the introduction of a new, Porsche-specific tire from Dunlop, the team's new-for-2012 tire partner. Both tests were used to get an understanding of the new tire, as well as a better handle on their 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
"The tests were great," said Paul Miller Racing team manager Mitchell Simmons. "Dunlop has really given us a solid platform and we were able to see gains immediately. This is the first real tire we have had which was designed for the Porsche and we are very excited going into Lime Rock.
"We have been battling a balance problem all year and with the new tire were finally able to get a setup that works. Porsche and PMNA (Porsche Motorsport North America) were good enough to provide us with the new aero package at Laguna and we feel we now have the right data to really get the most out of the package."
Miller pointed out that next week's race at Lime Rock Park, with its 1.474-mile, seven-turn layout, may not provide the opportunity to show all of the improvements the team made in testing. However, he knows the tests brought confidence to all involved in the No. 48 Porsche operation.
"I think we made a real step forward," Bryce explains. "We still need to keep our heads down and we still have a couple more steps to go for sure, but this was a good step for us and a good opportunity to go testing and try to close the gap on the competition. It's still early in the season, so to have that opportunity is a good one. The fact that our team was able to come away from those tests with some successes will help moving forward through the season in our points hunt."
The drivers are currently tied for eighth in the ALMS GT driver standings, while Paul Miller Racing ranks sixth in the team championship standings. With seven races remaining on the schedule, there is still plenty of time for both to move into the top five.
The ride resumes next week, and it can't come soon enough for Miller and his cohorts.
"I think everyone is really hungry at the moment," Bryce concludes. "There's good energy on the team and Sascha and I are both driving really well and working together really well. The crew also seems to be working together really well. It's been a lot of commitment and a lot of hard work from our crew to do back-to-back weeks like that, but it's been really beneficial for us. Hopefully, we can carry all that momentum with us to Lime Rock."
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix is scheduled for Saturday, July 7 at Lime Rock Park. Live qualifying and race coverage will be available on ESPN3.com on Friday, July 6 at 3:05 p.m. ET (qualifying) and Saturday, July 7 at 2:45 p.m. ET (race). ESPN2 will also offer tape-delayed television coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 7.
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