Pirelli pleased with inaugural season sponsorship of Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series

Jan. 1, 2020
Saturday's season-ending endurance race, the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 at Utah?s Miller Motorsports Park, featured unmatched competition, record-setting performances and a variety of treacherous conditions, both wet and dry, which allowed the race team
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Saturday’s season-ending endurance race – the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 at Utah’s Miller Motorsports Park – featured unmatched competition, record-setting performances and a variety of treacherous conditions, both wet and dry, which allowed the race teams to rely on both the Pirelli P Zero racing slick and racing rain tire to re-write the Grand-Am record book one final time in 2008, according to pleased Pirelli executives attending the event.

They report how “this year’s final Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race showcased the outstanding attributes and abilities Pirelli displayed during its inaugural year of sponsorship in the series, giving teams a tire that is super-fast and extremely durable.”

The No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley became the seventh Daytona Prototype team to earn a win this year with Brazilian Raphael Matos joining team regulars John Pew and Ian James for the victory. It was the second straight win for the Shank team, which also had taken top honors in their No. 60 Ford Riley previously in New Jersey with Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson at the wheel.

Matos drove the final stint Saturday in the No. 6 car and turned several fast laps – including the fastest lap of the race just a few laps before the checkered flag – deep in the cycle of his final set of P Zeros.

“Raphael was flying and never slowed down,” Shank says. “We even quit giving him split times he was so far in front, and he got faster and faster the longer he stayed out. When the sun came out the car just came on and everybody saw it. We have got a really consistent tire with the Pirelli and we proved that today and all season.”

James has been the anchor driver on the No. 6 all year, and he gave the Pirellis high praise for their runs in Utah and during the entire 2008 season.

“This year when we got the Pirelli it was a real step up in the competition,” says James, who joined Matos and Pew in winning his first Daytona Prototype race. “The consistency has been great and I think you have seen that in the racing. The racing has been great; the Pirellis always give the driver a good stint. The tires have really added to the series.”

In the GT class competition, Tim George Jr. joined Andy Lally at the podium for the second straight race. George also clinched theMESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year Award, and he was reportedly as excited about the performance of the tires in qualifying as he was about his third-place race finish with Lally.

“Qualifying was interesting because it was dry-wet-dry,” George Jr. says. “I was on the slicks and I was real impressed with how ‘grippy’ the Pirellis stayed after the (track became) wet. I liked that and I had no problems in the race. The lack of rubber pick up with the Pirellis was much better than what we had in the past.”

The GT race winners: the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R of Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins used their series-leading fourth win of the year to also clinch the Rolex Series GT Team and Driver Championships. Edwards has been a proponent of the new Pirelli tires all season.

“The Pirellis have been awesome and super consistent,” says Edwards. “The rubber has just been great and the braking is incredible. We picked up more than four seconds a lap around the Miller course from last year and we are 100 pounds heavier. Pirelli did a hell of a job this year and I bet we will see the same thing, if not better, in 2009.”

At the Rolex Series Awards Banquet set for Monday night at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the inaugural Gianfranco Martelli Award will be presented to the Pirelli Pacesetter team that earned the most program points in 2008. Martelli led the development of the Grand-Am Pirelli P Zero, but died just prior to Pirelli’s first official Grand-Am test in November of last year. The award is intended to ensure that his contributions to the Grand-Am program are remembered as one of the many individuals who have “contributed to Pirelli’s continued success over the last 100-plus years of Pirelli Motorsports history.”

Among other awards being presented will be the $100,000 Pirelli Pacesetter Bonus that will go to the Ganassi team.

For more information, visit www.us.pirelli.com.

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