Pirelli P Zeros pitch perfect at exciting Utah 250
Once an endurance race, Grand-Am’s decision to shorten this year’s race at Miller Motorsports Park from the old 1000k to the new Utah 250 put Pirelli Motorsports P Zero Racing Slicks front and center in team strategy for the short Saturday sprint. Consistency and speed was key in both the Daytona Prototype and Acxiom GT race classes, as teams relied on the tire’s durability and high speed to deliver top performance in Round 11 of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series – the second to last race of the season.
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty drove the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley to Daytona Prototype class victory while Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato won the Acxiom GT class race in the No. 69 FXDD/SpeedSource Mazda RX-8.
Gurney and Fogarty led a race-high 43 laps and stayed just in front of the second-place No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle, and the equally persistent team of the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. The three top Daytona Prototype teams raced flat-out and in tight formation for the final leg of the 2-¾ hour timed race - and crossed the finish line within 1.529 seconds of each other. Neither the No. 10 nor the No. 01 could get close enough to make a move for first, but all three teams left nothing on the table, their Pirellis providing them the speed needed to finish a blindingly-fast 1-2-3.
“We were kind of concerned about this type of track and the usual heat, but actually the Pirellis were perfect,” Angelelli said after the race. “They delivered a consistent performance that I am sure was perfect for all of us. We had no problems with the Pirellis at all.”
Angelelli finished the race for the No. 10 team – building on the successful drive of Brian Frisselle - who started the race in the No. 10 before handing off to Angelelli.
“Tires were not an issue,” Frisselle said. “Track temperatures were high, but the Pirellis performed great under these hard conditions.”
While the Daytona Prototype race was a clean and intense run all the way to the checkered flag, drivers in the Acxiom GT class experienced an all-out battle with as many as six different teams racing nose-to-tail and side-by-side for the majority of the race. Contact incidents were inevitable and Segal took the lead for the final time with just two laps to go when race leaders Robin Lidell and Dirk Werner took each other out while battling for the win.
“The Pirellis in the race were remarkable,” said Segal, who partnered with Assentato for their second win in the last three races. “The car just kept getting faster and faster and faster as the fuel burnt off, which was great. In practice I thought we were going to have a little bit of a problem, but we made some set up changes that really helped the car. The tires were super consistent, they came in right away and they were fast. The Pirelli tires are obviously the key to this victory, and keeping them under the car, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway will close the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Series season on Saturday, Oct. 10; the race can be seen live on SPEED at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT).