WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (GTLM & GTD) – August 27, 2017
Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge – August 26, 2017
In this edition of our WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (WTSC) round table we visit the Virginia International Raceway (VIR), a 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course. We spoke to Madison Snow, driver of the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, and Mike Skeen, driver of the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Here’s what they had to say:
Snow: VIR is my favorite track, it's hard to not have a lot of high feelings and emotions for the track after a win last year. The track itself doesn't really present any specific challenges. It can be difficult to pass, but that's how it is for most of the tracks we visit. The entire race was green last year, so sometimes that can make it more difficult to pass or make up any lost ground.
Skeen: The layout at VIR is an excellent track that makes you feel like you're really driving somewhere when you're going around. It feels like someone just meandered through some fields on a tractor to plan the layout. The result is a great combination of technical corners and flowing, high-speed sections with over 130 feet of elevation change. There is plenty of runoff area for the drivers to work with, but all of that beautiful grass proved to be an issue last year for many people that went off course and then had to pit to clean out the grill to avoid overheating. There are also many curbs that we have to use to improve lap times, but they can cause problems if taken too aggressively when the air pressures in our Continental tires are too low.
Snow: It's very hard to predict the tire strategy before we have been on track as the tire wear is unknown. However, last year we were able to set some of our fastest laps at the end of the stint because we had so little degredation through a stint and the low fuel at the end allowed for some really quick laps. We always change all four tires in the pit stops due to the time it takes to fuel up, the time to change tires is 'free', however the low degredation really allows for some fun and hard racing at the end of a stint.
Skeen: In 2016, the race at VIR had many long, green flag runs without major issues to cause full course yellows. The lack of gravel traps means cars can usually rejoin under their own power. This makes it very important to work on consistency over the course of a fuel stint to get the best performance out of our Continental tires at the end of the race.