Sebring Testing – Day 3
Russell Wittenberg hurried on down to Sebring today, and files this report from the third day of Pirelli tyre testing.

Hyper Sport Panoz Esperante
An electronic glitch with the management system on Tuesday was followed by an ‘off’ for Nic Jonsson: not a major impact, but he backed the Esperante into the wall, and the team didn’t have the parts with them to fix it.

Multimatic sent spares overnight, via Orlando, and work is ongoing to have the GT car out for more running on Thursday. The team is keen to get more miles on a new Bosch system, and both Larry Holt and a Bosch engineer are expected at the track on Thursday.

Driver pairings for the two 2004 cars will be:
Rick Skelton / Brad Nyberg
Joe Foster / Nic Jonsson.

Risi Competizione Ferrari 360
Risi has managed more track time (by this afternoon) than the other teams: Ralf Kelleners spent this morning in the Ferrari 360, with Anthony Lazzaro out this afternoon. The car is a 2003 chassis, but Risi will take delivery of a 2004 360 GTC in good time for the 12 Hours.

The team’s engineer Rick Mayer pointed out that they had tested Pirelli tyres “several times” last year, and recently completed a comparison test at Texas, when the Pirellis were as quick if not quicker than the French rubber used last year. All three teams present this week are very impressed with Pirelli’s commitment to make the tyres better and better.

The 360 was using a development engine yesterday, but it broke towards the end of the day – but after completing 5000 km in total (most of that pre-Sebring testing of course). The drivers were impressed with the improved power of this engine, and times were down into the 2:05s. Today, with a 2003 engine, the drivers were setting consistent 2:06s – but the team is aware that Sebring has often thrown up faster times in testing than in official sessions. GT pole in 2003 was a 2:06.023 (Alex Job #24, Timo Bernhard).

ACEMCO Saleen S7-R
ACEMCO received its pair of brand new cars on Sunday, at the track. Only one chassis has run so far, the other not quite prepped ready to go: Monday was spent getting the first one prepared for the track. But the team is on Cloud 9, with Terry Borcheller in the high 1:57s this morning, Johnny Mowlem on a 1:58.4.

The Saleen is clearly quick right out of the box, but ACEMCO has a number of tweaks to make to such new machinery – so there is more time to come.

“It’s three years since I’ve driven with carbon brakes,” said Johnny Mowlem, “so I’m more than happy to be so close to Terry – and delighted to be racing with him.”

GTS pole last year was a 1:59.024, by Oliver Gavin in the #4 Corvette.

The ACEMCO Saleen, on its Pirellis, is going to be a very significant entry in GTS in 2004.

More from Russell later this week.


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