Continental's DP Indyt tire makes debut at Watkins Glen
This weekend marked the race debut of Continental Tire's newest Daytona Prototype (DP) configuration, the DP-I (I for Indy). High temperatures and a challenging track like Watkins Glen provided a great canvass for Continental to debut its latest and greatest before taking it to the track at Indy. Following Sunday's six hour race, the entire DP podium applauded Continental for building a long-wearing and high-performance tire. And judging by the level of competition, the tires seemed to contribute to lots of side-by-side racing and spectacular passes throughout the enduro.
Several teams surfaced as strong contenders early on during Sunday's Rolex Series race, but it was Joao Barbosa's dramatic pass for the lead late in the race that proved to be the move of the race. Using a GT car as a pick, Barbosa overtook the No. 99 Gainsco Corvette of Alex Gurney and wheeled the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette to his second win of the 2012 season with co-driver Darren Law. Following the race, the winners praised the new tire configuration.
"The Continental tires, what a difference from the last few races," said Barbosa. "The tires were so, so consistent throughout all the stint."
Law echoed Barbosa's sentiment stating, "I'm adamant about that was probably the best tire we had all year as far as longevity. We couldn't double stint ever until this weekend so that was good."
The second-place team of Jon Fogarty and Gurney also had praise for the DP-I tire. "I double stinted one set of tires and they (motioning to the panel) probably did too." Gurney continued, "They're obviously very good."
Having tested the tires at the notoriously challenging Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Fogarty added, "We ran 150 miles on them today, I think when we double stinted, or somewhere around that, and they were still good." Referencing the upcoming test at Indy Fogarty said, "I think what's critical is running the track in. So if the rubber is there I think we'll be fine."
The Grand Touring (GT) division experienced some minor tire wear issues early on in the weekend but upon further examination, the Continental Tire team determined that high temperatures, increased camber, and low tire pressure all combined for the cause. A technical bulletin was issued with camber and tire pressure guidelines and by race time, the problem had subsided and the GT class tackled the six hour race without hesitation.
The 21-car field battled for position throughout the day and it was the duo of Robin Liddell and John Edwards crossing the line first in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R. The No. 94 Turner BMW had a trio of drivers including Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana, and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series regular Billy Johnson, behind the wheel for their second-place finish. During a post-race press conference, Auberlen spoke highly of the tire performance at Watkins Glen and over the last several races.
"We've all driven a lot of cars with a lot of different tires and I'm not kidding you I'm coming out of three races where this tire does not drop off at all," said Auberlen. "I can run it as hard as I want in Mid-Ohio, in Elkhart Lake, and now here and it just keeps truckin' through a whole stint. I'm really happy with the tire."
The Continental Tire 150 came down to the last straightaway during Saturday's 59-lap event in the Grand Sport (GS) division. On older tires Matt Plumb, driving the No. 13 Rum Bum Porsche, held off a final charge from Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 01 CKS Autosport Camaro GS.R to cross the line 0.318 seconds ahead of Aschenbach. The win marked co-drivers Nick Longhi and Plumb's fourth trip to victory lane this year and also gave them back-to-back victories.
When asked about tire wear, Longhi responded, "They were Continental's!" He continued, "They're great all the time, but they're great for everybody so how do you take advantage of them in the setting and time that you have which is tough to figure out."
Chad Gilsinger and Michael Valiante posted their second win of the season in the Street Tuner (ST) division at Watkins Glen. Aboard the No. 92 Red Line Oil/HPD Honda Civic Si, the duo led a race-high 27 laps on their way to victory.
It was the Ford Fiesta that dominated the TOTAL Performance Showcase Sunday morning. An 18-year-old Bobby Kennedy passed his teammate, and driving coach, Todd Buras on the final lap to win by just .070 seconds. The win marks the fourth different driver to win in as many races during this year's series.
The GRAND-AM Series returns to the track July 27 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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