Pirelli P Zero rain tires power through heavy rain in Verizon Wireless 250
Heavy rains soaked the 2.25 mile Thunderbolt Road Course at New Jersey Motorsports Park during Sunday’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Verizon Wireless 250. The inclement weather necessitated the field of Daytona Prototype class and GT class teams run the entire 2 ¾ hour race on Pirelli P Zero Racing Rains – a treaded tire that provides greater control in wet conditions.
The Pirelli P Zero Racing Rains performed flawlessly. Sunday’s rainy conditions and standing water on the track combined to create the most challenging wet-weather racing for Pirelli’s Grand-Am efforts since becoming the Series’ “Official Tire” last season. Undeterred, both DP and GT teams met the challenges head-on, and as a result, raced in one of the most memorable and exciting races in recent memory.
“The Pirellis performed fantastic the whole event,” said No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola driver Nic Jonsson, who co-drove to overall victory in his Daytona Prototype with teammate Ricardo Zonta. “The rain tires performed great the whole time. I don’t know if that had anything to do with our car, but it was a very good performance. The Pirelli tires really performed well today, so we are really pleased with that.” The victory was the first for former Formula 1 driver Zonta and legendary chassis constructor Lola in Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype competition.
“The Pirellis were very consistent,” said Zonta, who drove over an hour in green-flag conditions at the end of the race. “I was a little bit worried because I didn’t know how many laps to go to the end and it was drying up. I tried to follow a bit more damp line to cool down the tires, but the Pirellis were very consistent, especially with our car.”
The winning Krohn Ford Lola joined the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle and third-place finishers Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard in the No. 12 Verizon Wireless/Penske Racing Porsche Riley on the podium. All three teams led the race for at least 10 laps, with the Krohn Ford Lola up front for a race-high 52 laps.
In GT racing, several top Porsche teams used Pirelli rain tires to shine in the wet weather. Dirk Werner and Leh Keen scored the class victory in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3 and were joined on the podium by their teammates Bryan Sellers and Eric Lux in the identical No. 85 Porsche that finished second. The Farnbacher Loles Porsches were split by the similar No. 66 AXA/Mitchell Rubber TRG Porsche GT3 of Spencer Pumpelly and Ted Ballou that finished second.
“With the conditions how they were, the Pirellis really gave us a good grip on the track,” said former Rolex Series GT Champion Werner. “We were in a good position with a good car so, really, everything worked perfect for us today.”
“For us, the Pirellis were good,” said Sellers, who prevailed in a close battle with No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3 driver Andy Lally for third place in the race’s late stages. “We knew we needed a lot of rain to kind of make it work for what we were shooting for and fortunately we had a significant amount of rain until the very last couple of laps. We probably could have done the whole race on one set of tires. It was all good for us today.”
Next up for Pirelli and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is the Verizon Wireless Festival of Speed presented by SPEEDCOM Communications, May 15 – 17 at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca in California. The race can be seen live on SPEED at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) on Sunday, May 17.