Pirelli P Zero wins at Montreal 200 Grand-Am Rolex race
Inclement weather couldn’t keep the P Zero down – and Pirelli’s Motorsport tires once again gave drivers peak performance – as a wet Quebec played host to the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Saturday. Team strategies differed, as some ran P Zero Racing Slicks, while others chose to use P Zero Racing Rain tires in the wet stuff.
Cool temperatures and a consistent rain fell throughout a race that saw Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype and GT teams adopt several different strategies in pursuit of victory. The overall winning No. 10 SunTrust/Wayne Taylor Racing Ford Dallara of Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle joined other top Daytona Prototype teams in swapping back and forth between P Zero dry and rain tires throughout the race. In complete contrast, the GT-class winning No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R of Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis used only P Zero dry tires despite several heavy downpours during the race.
“The Pirellis were once again fantastic,” said Angelelli, who also joined Frisselle in winning the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona on the Fourth of July. “It is so hard for any tire - wet or dry - to keep up to heat in these conditions, but the Pirelli still gave us good grip. The rain tires were particularly good, not only in heavy rain but also as (the track) dried. We were very happy with our Pirellis.”
Angelelli crossed the finish line more than one minute ahead of the second-place No. 12 Verizon Wireless/Penske Racing Porsche Riley of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty finished third to retake the overall Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Team and Driver championship points lead. The No. 99 team and its drivers lead both championships with 274 points, five ahead of Angelelli, Frisselle and the No. 10 SunTrust squad who are tied for second at 269 points with the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. The No. 01 car finished 10th in the Montreal 200.
Despite a steady drizzle just before the race, all but two GT teams chose P Zero Racing Slicks to start the contest. However, it was the team’s that decided to stay on those tires for the duration of the two-hour battle that ultimately finished first and second. Liddell and Davis masterfully handled a variety of slips and slides on nearly every lap of the race while second-place finishers Andy Lally and guest NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan also kept P Zero Racing Slicks on their No. 66 TRG AXA/South Point Casino Porsche GT3 the entire race.
“It is always going to be very tricky in those sorts of conditions on slick tires,” Liddell said. “The fact that we were able to run the tires throughout the race in those conditions in wet or dry is a testament to how effective the Pirellis were and how much grip we were able to get. Even when it was sprinkling and we were still on the slicks we still had excellent grip. We were happy with the performance of the car and the Pirellis all around.”
Davis drove the No. 57 Pontiac in the opening race stint and relied on the Pirellis to keep him out of trouble.
“The first five or six laps of the race it was still very damp,” Davis said. “Every lap the tires got better and throughout my entire stint I continued to improve. The Pirelli tire performed exceptionally well in pretty dire conditions.”
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.