Alex - & His Alex Job Racing
Focusing On GT2

dailysportscar.comAlex Job Racing is one of those teams that is often taken for granted. The efficiency of this team is such that about the only time it makes headlines is when it doesn’t win. And in recent memory, that has not been that often. Gary Horrocks caught up with Alex Job at Portland (pictured with a 'thoughtful' Timo Bernhard), ahead of this weekend’s race at Road America.

“Yes, being a Factory Supported team does bring more pressure,” suggested Alex. “We are expected to win and to be the quickest every time we run. It’s as simple as that.”

This year, AJR is again running a two car effort for the full season, but instead of both cars being factory supported, only car #23 is factory supported, as #24 is a private entry.

But, despite the factory support, Alex firmly believes that “independent teams can beat the factory efforts. Look at Joest back in the ‘80s. They won Le Mans twice and they were not a factory team. In 2000, we were battling Dick Barbour’s team, who was a factory team. We led 7 of the 10 races we ran and won two of those. We raced the factory team for the championship and it went down to the final race, before Barbour prevailed.

“Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic box of parts that we get to allow us to be the fastest Porsche or to insure that we are the quickest Porsche. The cars are all the same now. Everybody has equal opportunity for the same parts. We have been running these cars since they debuted in 1999 and there are many things that we have learned about them since then. I give Greg Fordahl much of the credit. He is one of the best at setting up these Porsches. An example of how good we nailed the set-up was recently at Sears Point (Infineon Raceway) when we were impounded after the race.”

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It seems after that race, there were suspicions that the fuel cell was too large, as they had stretched their fuel rather longer that was expected. “They found no problems. We were indeed under the maximum capacity. But our car was working so well at Sears that we were able to use minimal throttle; it was easy to drive and was easy on fuel. It was about as perfect as I can remember.”

dailysportscar.comBut being labeled as the factory team can also be a disadvantage. “Because we are a factory team, we can’t do some of the things that we did before. We have to run certain components, as they are dictated from above. If you are a private team, you have more flexibility in doing things that are different. In 2000, when we were racing Barbour, we were developing a dog ring gearbox on our own. This was a lead up to the sequential shifter that was eventually developed with the factory, but we were doing this on our own in 2000.”

It seems that perfection, or close to perfection, has been with the team recently - helped in the ALMS by having thse two (Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas) doing the driving.

But witness Le Mans this year. “When it came down to the race, we went in knowing that we were the underdog. Petersen - White Lightning were easily the favorite. They had the best driver squad and the experience. We knew it would take a good effort from us to be able to beat them.”

From the beginning, the Le Mans effort did no go as originally planned. “Our intention was to go there as Alex Job Racing this year. There was a sponsorship package that we were working on and it was based upon running at Le Mans. It fell apart and when we couldn’t raise the funding, so we had to find somebody who could. That is how Leo Hindery and BAM! came into the picture.”

Contractual obligations for tires between BAM! and AJR complicated matters, but eventually both Michelin and Yokahama reached an agreement, allowing the BAM! liveried team to race on the Yokohama tires. “The Yokohama tires performed well at Le Mans. Michelin has been developing tires for years and they undoubtedly have the best tire out there. When we started to run with the Yokohamas, we realized that we would have to tune the car quite differently, as the tires required a different set-up. At first, the drivers said the car was nervous, but they were used to the feel of the Michelin tires. Once they (the drivers) got confidence and used to the different feeling, the performance was there.”

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Once the race started, Alex viewed it as a 24 hour sprint. “If you wanted to write a Hollywood script for a race, this was it. There was never more than half of a lap between us and Petersen until the last hour of the race. Tim Munday (of BAM!) and I spent most of the 24 hours on the wall. I just couldn’t step away. Mike Rockenfeller and Marc Leib did an incredible job all race long. The weather was good for the tire and we had nothing go wrong. We did have some good luck and we may have been fortunate that the Petersen team had their struggles during the week, including their crash in qualifying.

“We may have gotten lucky by getting pole because of the (Petersen) wreck, but I truly believe our car was superior in the race. It was truly a testament to Porsche that we could keep up that pace all race long.”

“This series (the ALMS) needs another tire manufacturer involved, a quality tire, and Yokohama is that. It is a good product. Competition improves the racing and being a Michelin team, it is good to see something come along that can raise the level of competition.”

Whenever there was any talk about the possibility of Porsche developing a prototype car, it was almost assumed that AJR would be put in charge. Instead, in what was quite a shock, it was announced that it would be Penske running the program. “I have to admit that it was a big disappointment to not get the P2 program. But, when I heard that it would be Penske, it was hard to be upset. I can’t compete with the resources that Penske has, so it makes sense. While I may not be happy with the decision, I do understand and accept it. If it was somebody other than Penske, then I would be upset.“

So, is Alex concerned about Porsche focusing on the P2 program and forgetting about the GT2 class? “I think that remains to be seen, but I don’t think they are going to ignore the business of building GT2 cars. The Panoz is improving and I think we’ll be seeing a Ferrari 430 joining in next year. I look at most of the GT2 competitors and I’m not sure if many of them could afford to make the move up to P2, so the demand will still be there for the GT2 class. There is a huge difference in the cost of running a prototype and I figure the budget would have to be tripled to do it properly. Maybe some of their current customers will have the wherewithal to make the jump, but it will not be cheap.

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“But it’s racing. It’s expensive. Everybody is aware of the expense. Tire and testing constraints have been installed as a way of constraining the costs of racing. One thing I do like is the introduction of the GT3 Cup Series. We’re involved in it and I think it is a much more cost efficient way to allow gentleman drivers a chance to be a part of the show.

dailysportscar.com“Even though the car counts are down, I look at this series (the ALMS) and I see the best sportscar teams in the world. I believe new teams and product will be entering and they will make the series better and stronger.

“In the future, I would hope that we could run a P2 car and still run in the GT2 class. We’ll see what happens, but right now, I’m more focused on winning the Championship this year.”

 

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