Pirelli performs in Grand-Am Rolex at VIR
Round 2 of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car season got underway at this weekend’s Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). The race was defined by long driving stints and unseasonably warm temperatures that hovered near the 90’s at race time on Saturday, and tested the outstanding abilities of the Pirelli P Zero Racing Slicks. The tires’ strong performance in Saturday’s thrilling Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR was a continuation of the success at this years opening race: The Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Racing for the win at VIR this weekend, Alex Gurney stretched his fuel mileage and the life of his Pirelli P Zeros to join teammate Jon Fogarty in taking the overall win in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype. In the GT class, Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis combined smart race strategy with Pirelli performance for the second-straight year to score back-to-back wins at VIR in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R.
The real story of the race, however, was the number of competitors in both classes that stretched their fuel mileage and their Pirellis to their competitive limits in temperatures that averaged 88 degrees in the 2 ¾ hour race. The long runs between pit stops saw many teams use one set of tires for more than the final 90 minutes of the race in addition to some opening-race power stints.
The Bosch Engineering 250 Pole-winner Memo Rojas led the competition three times for a race-high 27 laps in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley he shared with teammate and reigning Grand-Am Rolex Series Co-Champion Scott Pruett. His shift included a double-stint in the first half of the race where he pushed his Pirellis to the limit.
“The Pirellis were good,” Rojas said. “The tires were very consistent for us and I have no complaints with the tires. Any problems we had came when I locked up the brakes, but that was on our side. We put a new set of Pirellis on and they were very consistent, I would say.”
In GT, Davis also ran the opening part of the race before handing the Stevenson Pontiac GXP.R over to Liddell.
“I can’t say enough about the Pirelli tire,” Davis said. “It was under us for both stints. In my stint I didn’t have to make any adjustments inside the car with the roll bars. The tires were great and the Pirelli tire is really performing at its best here at this track. With the new grooves in the corners and stuff, it seemed to respond well to that, and obviously in the run at the end with Robin, his tires were strong. He was running awesome lap times the entire time and you really have to thank the guys at Pirelli for doing their homework.”
While Pirelli P Zeros performed well in the Bosch Engineering 250, Friday’s record-setting qualifying session served notice that it was going to be a fast and competitive weekend. The top eight qualifiers in both the Daytona Prototype and GT divisions all lapped quicker than the existing track record.
Next up for Pirelli and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is the Verizon Wireless 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park next Sunday, May 3. The race can be seen live on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. ET.