Ferrari's Giancarlo Fisichella & Three Porsche North America Drivers To Make Lime Rock Park Debut
Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ferrari’s Giancarlo Fisichella and three of the four full-season Porsche North America drivers will be making their first visit to Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park for the IMSA WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix on Saturday, July 23, the next stop on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule.

The event features the return of the elite GT Le Mans (GTLM) class to the challenging 1.5-mile circuit, joining the GT Daytona (GTD) and Prototype Challenge (PC) classes.

“I’ve never been there, but I hear it’s very nice, very challenging,” said Fisichella, who will co-drive the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE with Toni Vilander. “It has a few high-speed corners. It’s very challenging, because if you lose the car in the high-speed corners you can cause a lot of damage. I look forward to going there for the first time.”

For Porsche North America, defending GTLM champion Patrick Pilet is the lone driver with experience at the circuit, with Nick Tandy – Pilet’s co-driver in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR – and both Earl Bamber and Frederic Makowiecki of the No. 912 Porsche competing there for the first time.

While Tandy has never actually competed at the circuit, he’s logged many virtual laps there.

“Lime Rock is one of the tracks which is on a lot of online racing, and though I’ve never been there it feels like a familiar track that I’ve been racing on for a few years online,” Tandy said. “I know it’s normally a very hot race which could suit our car well. So I’m positive and looking forward to going there for that reason.”

“I am looking forward to Lime Rock, because it’s a new track on the calendar,” Bamber said. “I’ve heard it’s basically like an oval with a chicane. I watched a few onboard videos, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Simpson Pulls Ironman Stint For JDC-Miller Motorsports

Stephen Simpson drove an ironman stint in Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, racing for nearly two hours, 20 minutes while leading the opening 106 laps in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Hi-Tide Boat Lifts/Red Line Oil ORECA FLM09.

Simpson stepped in for teammate Misha Goikhberg to qualify the car fourth, and started the race on the second row in class. Simpson then quickly moved up to take the lead on the opening lap. He pulled out a healthy lead – and even led overall for one lap during a pit-stop sequence – but a pair of cautions near the midway point negated much of that advantage. He was a sitting duck by the time of his last pit stop to turn the car over to Goikhberg, resulting in a drop from first to a fifth-place finish.

“We didn’t have a strategy plan going in, we made our decisions as the race went on,” Simpson said. “It felt great leading, but unfortunately it didn’t work out for us. This was my first time here, and we kept making progress over the weekend. The changing conditions in practice hurt us with the setup – and me getting comfortable with the track – but we got it in the right direction and it was pretty good in the race.”

The team’s change in qualifying drivers and having Simpson start the race was due to Goikhberg missing qualifying and much of practice to be with his wife, who was in a Toronto hospital as the couple was expecting their first child.

The team received happy news from the Goikhbergs shortly after the race. Misha’s wife, Kasania, delivered their first child, Max (Maximum Mikailovich), on Wednesday in Toronto, where the couple recently relocated.

BimmerWorld Racing Has Poles But Lacks Knockout Punch

Owner/driver James Clay captured his second TOTAL Pole Award of the season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – and third for the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i – but the car co-driven by Tyler Cooke came up short on pace, resulting in an 11th-place finish.

“We have good cars, but we don’t have that punch at the end when we need it,” Clay said. “It’s tough, and we try to hang on to it to put ourselves in the best position possible. But we’re not driving up to the finish we want, so it’s a little bit challenging right now.”

After losing two positions on the opening lap, Clay worked his way back to fourth by the driver change at the one-hour, five-minute mark. Cooke, recovering from a broken wrist, ran seventh for most of his turn but the car faded in the closing laps with fuel starvation.

Cooke won the TOTAL Pole Award at Sebring, while Clay led qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and CTMP. The pair finished third at Sebring, and is currently seventh in the Street Tuner (ST) standings, three points out of fifth.

End Quote:

Bill Auberlen, No. 25 BMW Team RLL IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GTLM, Lime Rock winner in the Rolex Series and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge: “Lime Rock’s a crazy little place. I call it ‘the bullring of racing.’ It’s 52-second lap times – with the chicane in it. We’re doing a lot of laps. Our new BMW M6 GTLM is a very big car compared to the Z4, which was tiny and nimble. I’m not sure how it’s going to do there, but it’s done very well everywhere but one track. I’m hoping for the best. Lime Rock is BMW’s home track, it’s close to the headquarters and we always get a lot of support from the headquarters. Of any track I want do well at, it’s that one.”