The heat is on as Pirelli returns to Alabama race track

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Pirelli returns to the heat and humidity of Alabama this weekend for the Sunday running of the Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park. The two and three-quarter hour Grand-Am Rolex Series contest is the featured race this weekend, and can be seen live on SPEED at 3 p.m. ET (Noon PT) Sunday, July 19.

Daytona Prototype and GT competitors first learned how well Pirelli P Zeros perform in excessive hot and humid conditions during last year’s Porsche 250 at Barber. They also had a quick reminder of what it is like to race in the intense heat of the southeastern United States July 4th this season during the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona. Both races were run in the midst of excessive humidity and searing summer afternoon temperatures approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Last year’s Porsche 250 at Barber presented the dual-challenges of high heat and high-grip twists and turns of the ultra-modern Alabama race track -- challenges that Pirelli passed with flying colors.

"Conditions were really, really hot,” said Wayne Taylor, after watching Max Angelelli drive the No. 10 SunTrust/Wayne Taylor Racing Ford Dallara to victory at the Porsche 250 at Daytona nearly two weeks ago. “Alex Gurney was all over Max, and he was pushing as hard as he can. But we kept the tires under us, and when we finished we were still lapping very, very quickly at the end. (Pirelli P Zero) tires are the best, and Pirelli needs to be in Grand-Am forever.”

Taylor was a proponent of Pirelli since before they entered the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series as its official tire supplier last year. As a champion driver and now team owner, Taylor is quick to point out that it is ultimately the teams and drivers that need to work hard to get the most out of the Pirelli P Zeros.

“I have always felt good about Pirelli and I knew they were going to be a great partner for Grand-Am,” Taylor said. “They make a good tire, and it is up to the teams to manage the tire with proper pressures and so forth. Daytona proved, in extreme conditions, what the Pirellis can do, and nobody should question the performance of these tires. I am one of Pirelli’s biggest supporters and will continue to be.”

Dirk Werner has won the last three consecutive GT class races and a total of four this year with teammate Leh Keen in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3. Daytona was just as tough on him and his equipment as any of the Grand-Am Rolex Series competitors, but he was also quick to point out the role driver and teams have in preserving their equipment in severe conditions.

“Tire management is very important,” said Werner, who shares a 29-point lead with Keen in the GT standings. “You can feel the heat... and you really have to handle and manage your tires -- but it is the same for everybody and Pirelli gives us a good tire.” 

Another Porsche GT team also proved at Daytona how well Pirelli P Zeros perform in even unforeseen extreme conditions. The No. 68 Cohen Financial/TRG Porsche GT3 of Scott Schroeder and Josemanuel Gutierrez was trouble-free early in the race before a pit stop.

“During the pit stop, about an hour into the race, Josemanuel got out after a good stint, but the left rear wheel got struck,” Schroeder said. “We did the full race with the same left tire. Even with that problem, we were still able to hold off some guys behind us and had our best finish of the year. Pirelli makes a good tire and I think we did some serious endurance testing for them today in the 95-degree heat!”

Schroeder -- who set the No. 68’s fastest race lap just 12 laps from the finish -- and Gutierrez scored a season-best finish of seventh in the GT class. 

Sunday’s Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park will be run on the 2.3 mile, 16-turn road course and is the eighth race of the 2009 season. Tickets and detailed race weekend information is available at

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