February 26, 2010 - Sebring Preview

I've just finished the Sebring ALMS test and I'm looking forward to the new season. We had a mixed agenda of finding a balance on setup with this year's new tires and running through a list of technical updates and new parts on the 911 GT3 RSR. It's a little hard to get a read on the competition at the moment, but my mindset is parallel with the team's— we want to be as prepared as we can for the 12 Hour race in a few weeks' time. The 12 Hours of Sebring is in many ways more demanding for the cars and drivers than the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so the most important factor is to work on mechanical reliability and being strategically organized. The race will always sort itself out, in terms of outright pace. It's interesting and enjoyable to talk about what everyone's prospects are in theory, but we'll only know what our competition's potential is come qualifying and the race itself. For sure though, it's going to be intense between ourselves, and the factory Ferrari, Corvette and BMW teams.

One huge positive is that there's a ton of energy and forward motion with the Series right now— there are so many old faces we haven't seen in the paddock for a while and a whole lot of new faces, too. With car counts up, new commercial partnerships for the Series and a new partner for Flying Lizard in Openwave Communications, there's a lot of really good momentum, and it's great to see.

I think that the new Le Mans Prototype Challenge and GT Challenge cars are going to bring a very different flow and feeling to the races, which I like. Having so many cars on track—at so many relatively different speeds—will always mix it up a bit. That makes traffic that much more of a factor, which is one thing that sports car racing really has going for it. Because there are so many classes and cars, there's a lot of intensity and high-stakes, high-risk moves have to be made by everyone, all the time, just to navigate traffic. Whether these moves are between cars in the same class or by faster classes of cars passing slower ones, they all affect the outcome of the championship, and make for a great show. I think that's a great equalizer for the competition in general, and is a new factor in the racing. To me, it's great that the ebb and flow of the race is the product of drivers and teams, rather than just relying on technical advantages or rules like we see elsewhere.

In less than a month, we'll be on the track for the first and longest race of the ALMS season. I'm ready to go.

Send your comments and questions to Patrick at askpatrick@pca.org. Although he can’t respond individually, he’ll get to as many as possible in his blog.