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Pirelli P Zeros test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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The first group sports car test ever run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) took place, with all nine Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series cars fitted with Pirelli P Zero Racing Slicks.  Daytona Prototypes and Acxiom GT race cars participated in the one-day exploratory test on the IMS Grand Prix Formula 1 and Moto GP road course layouts.

Today was an opportunity for all of us to learn,” said reigning Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Co-Champion Scott Pruett.  “That’s what we’re all about here. I think Pirelli did a great job.  We were not here to put on a race, we were here to learn and make things better. I know Pirelli is committed to being a part of that.”

Pruett tested the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with teammate Memo Rojas.  Another top Daytona Prototype team that took its first laps at IMS was GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Co-Champion Jon Fogarty.  GAINSCO, Fogarty and their teammate Alex Gurney are the current Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype championship leaders with two races left on the 2009 schedule. Team owner/driver Bob Stallings also did a brief stint in the morning session behind the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley.

“The Pirellis will, for sure, be able to stand up to the abuse this place dishes out,” said Fogarty about the notoriously abrasive Indy surface.  “The construction is robust and they can probably handle it. But a lot of marbles build up and that’s the issue for putting on a good race. When the marbles build up, it could be a one-groove track and make it really difficult to overtake. If we can somehow reduce that, then we would be in good shape.”

Five Daytona Prototypes and four GT teams participated in Thursday’s testing. While the bulk of the time was spent on the 2.534-mile, 13-turn Grand Prix Formula 1 layout, teams also did a short stint on the modified 2.621-mile, 16-turn Moto GP layout.

Among the top GT competitors testing at IMS was the No. 70 Castrol/SpeedSource Mazda RX8 of Sylvain Tremblay and team engineer/driver David Haskell.

“Obviously, different tire manufacturers have had some history here before, and as abrasive as this surface might be, we were able to almost do a full stint with no problems on the Pirellis,” Tremblay said.  “No failures, no issues, no shaking.  A lot of it is car setup and how we drive. In the end, we are very happy with the performance of the Pirelli tires.”

Only a pair of 2-¾ hour races remains on the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series schedule.  Next up is Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 19, before the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Oct. 10.  Round 11 of the Rolex Series from Miller can be seen live at 5:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. PT) on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Pirelli Tire North America designs, develops, manufactures and markets tires for passenger vehicles in both the original equipment and replacement markets as well as markets and distributes tires for motorcycles and motorsports. Located in Rome, Georgia, Pirelli’s Modular Integrated Robotized System (MIRS) employs state-of-the-art technology to manufacture tires for both export and domestic markets.  For more information please visit www.us.pirelli.com.

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