Pirelli return to Miller Motorsports Park for Utah 250
Pirelli Motorsport is preparing for a weekend of Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series racing excitement at Utah’s picturesque Miller Motorsports Park for Saturday’s Utah 250. This weekend’s race is the 11th of the 2009 season, and the next-to-last race on this year’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series schedule. The Utah 250 can be seen live on SPEED this Saturday, Sept. 19 at 5:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. PT).
In a break with tradition, Saturday’s race will be a 2-¾ hour timed sprint instead of a 1,000 kilometer (9 hour) endurance race. It will be run on the same 4.486-mile, 24-turn road course outside of Salt Lake City that has hosted the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series since 2006. Regardless of the race length, top Rolex Series teams and drivers know that the Pirelli P Zeros are up to the challenge.
“The Pirellis have been great this season,” said Darren Law, who was part of the winning No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley Daytona Prototype team at this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona. “We have had great reliability and no troubles. It has been a great move for the series to switch to the Pirelli P Zero tire and we look forward to racing on them again next season.”
The lengthy lap times but shorter overall race distance at Miller will put an emphasis on good team and tire strategies for Saturday’s race. The main strategy decisions may center on whether teams will double-stint their P Zeros - both in the Daytona and in the Acxiom GT classes. Time-saving double-stints are common in endurance races, just as they were during the three events previously run in Utah. However, that may not be the winning ticket in this weekend’s sprint-race format.
“Although Pirelli makes a good tire and this race is shorter than last season, it doesn’t really pay off for us to double stint tires in Utah,” said Law, who runs with personal backing from CDOC and Shock Doctor. “The track is long, with a lot of corners. But the length of the track allows enough time to complete a tire change without losing much track position.”
On the Acxiom GT front, many teams and drivers believe a standard sprint-race tire change rotation will play out. Kevin Roush and his sponsor Wheel Enhancement are returning to the No. 48 Marquis Jet/IPC/Total/Miller Barrett Racing Porsche GT3 and co-driver Bryce Miller after the duo drove in the team’s debut last month at Watkins Glen.
"With this Miller Motorsports Park event being a sprint race for the first time, a more standard tire strategy will likely play out where teams run on two sets of Pirellis, maybe three if it is really hot out there,” Roush said. “The tires have been holding up very well on the rear of the Porsches.”
Most teams can change four tires during a pit stop in less time than it takes to refuel their race cars.
"Since most teams can get a four-tire change accomplished prior to a three-quarters to seven-eighths load of fuel, it make sense to change tires and have the best possible grip going forward,” Roush said. “If we are talking about a shorter fuel stop, changing only a pair or a 'splash and go' is certainly worth considering, as the Pirellis will easily hold up to the extra rigors brought by additional time."