Photo by John Thawley A trip last week to Road Atlanta did nothing to dampen Autocon Motorsports' enthusiasm for the second half of the American Le Mans Series season. A two-day test provided the drivers and team a chance to grow more comfortable with the Creation CA06H-Judd as the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park approaches.
"We feel like we're ready for a good run at Lime Rock," reported Chris McMurry, who led for nine laps last year at the New England circuit in a Lola-AER. "The test went very, very well. Our goals were really threefold: 1) make sure the car is race ready, 2) find a solid, comfortable baseline setup and 3) get the drivers acclimated and comfortable driving the car. We accomplished all three."
The car turned about 150 laps Thursday and Friday with a variety of new tire compounds from Dunlop, McMurry said. Works driver Jamie Campbell-Walter, fresh from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, put the car through its early paces, and all three Autocon drivers posted their best career lap times in race trim at the circuit. Campbell-Walter was a little more than a second above Nic Minassian's Petit Le Mans pole time last year in the same car.
"We all walked away feeling very good, and having learned a lot about the car, how to drive it and what it likes in certain situations," McMurry said. "From a driving perspective, the Creation CA06H is very different from the Lola EX257. I've driven a Courage, a Pilbeam, the Creation and the Lola. The Creation is more like the Courage in that you can feel the weight of car moving around. It is much more forgiving than the Lola or Courage, and that will be good for our team since confidence in the car is a big part of going fast."
Creation chief engineer Ian Smith was at Road Atlanta to provide additional insight and data. Team engineer Buddy Fey also was wide-eyed at the prospects of additional work on the Creation, McMurry said.
The team also was looking ahead to a possible berth at Le Mans in 2008. McMurry, Bryan Willman and Jeff Bucknum entered the world's most famous auto race in 2003 but retired their Pilbeam past the eight-hour mark with an engine malady.
"I'd say there's an 80 percent chance from a team principal commitment standpoint, and then the only obstacle will be getting into the race," McMurry said. "Bryan and I did the race in 2003 with Jeff Bucknum, and Lewis hasn't been but would like to."
Round Six of the American Le Mans Series is the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix, set for 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 7 at Lime Rock Park. CBS Sports will televise the race at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 8. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.