Photo by John Thawley ST. PETERSBURG, FL, March 30, 2007.. Kumhos prototype teams qualified 11th and 12th overall for the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. Intersport Racing driver Clint Field put the teams Judd-powered Creation fourth in LMP1 and 11th overall with a time of 1:08.844. B-K Motorsports driver Jamie Bach put the teams Mazda-powered Lola eighth in LMP2 and 12th overall, turning a best lap of 1:08.991.
Intersport debuted Kumhos new LMP1 tire after running the companys P2 tire in the Creations first ALMS race at Sebring, and the new tire has made a big difference in the cars performance. The new tires are size 330/680R18 on the front and 370/710R18 on the rear. How big is that? Consider that the new P1 front tire is nearly an inch wider than the P2 rear tire.
The new tires are working really well compared to the P2 size on this car, said Field. The extra width makes a world of difference, especially on the front.
The construction and compound of Kumhos first P1 tire is based on the most recent version of the companys P2 tire. We wanted to bring a safe construction that we know because we knew the extra width would help the car tremendously, said Rudy Consolacion, motorsports manager for Kumho Tire U.S.A. We didnt want to take a chance with a new construction and be off. But were working on different constructions to improve the grip, especially on the front end. We hope to have the next version of the P1 tire at Long Beach or Houston. I think were one big step closer to finding the right setup for the Intersport car.
While the new P1 size has helped Intersport, the second race with the new car has helped the team learn more about what the car likes. We made some changes and found some speed during qualifying, said Field, who pitted during qualifying for some additional suspension tweaks. I didnt get a chance to go out and try the changes we made to the front dampers because of the red flag near the end of qualifying. I think we could have gotten into the 1:06 range or maybe even the 1:05s, which would have been good. We made some pretty significant changes to the car and they seemed to work pretty well. Now were getting the tire to work for the car instead of trying to work around the tire.
In P2, B-K Motorsports continued learning the ropes with its new car and Mazda engine, whichlike the Intersport Creationis appearing in just its second race. In the afternoon practice session, Jamie Bach completed only 9 laps due to a software glitch with the car. Even so, in qualifying he shaved nearly two seconds off his best practice lap, a good effort considering his limited time on a new track with a new car.
Right toward the end we found some more speed, said Bach after qualifying. I think the car had a couple more seconds in it but we had a few little issues during practice and couldnt make as many laps as wed hoped to. The tires worked real nice. We had a little bit of a push this morning, but the track was green and it was a little cool, and there was a lot of dust and dirt on course.
The first few laps on the track were a little uncomfortable because it was hard to judge my turn-in points because of the posters and such on the walls. I couldnt see my way around the corners, and it was a little deceiving at first.
Notes: No Place Like Home
Even though Intersport took delivery of its new Creation just a few weeks before Sebring, the team was able to work on the car at its shop in Ohio before Sebring. B-Ks new car has not yet been to the teams home in Wisconsin. It arrived in Florida from the U.K. just days before Sebring and vacationed here during the two weeks in between the Sebring and St. Petersburg races.
The car hasnt been home to Wisconsin yet and wont make its first stop to the team shop until after Houston, said John Doonan, manager of motorsports team development for Mazda North America. To be on the road doing all this development work on a new car and engine isnt easy, but were using partners shops so we have a place to call home for a few days as we travel.