1 January 1901
Grand-Am: Edwards chases Mexican hat-trick.
Paul Edwards will be looking for a 'three-peat' as the Grand-Am Rolex Series heads to Mexico City this weekend, having acquired a perfect two win record since the championship began visiting the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
In 2005, the Pontiac GTO.R was the platform for Edward's first Mexico City win, which he shared with Jan Magnussen, while the Californian combined with Kelly Collins to take a repeat victory in 2006, again in the TRG-run GTO.R. Now with Banner Racing, Edwards and Collins will be out to beat the rival Porsches and improve on their recent showing at Daytona.
"I've been lucky to have good cars and great co-drivers the last two years," Edwards said, "Kelly was fast there last year as well, so we know the track. The real advantage for us is mechanical, under the car, with the set-up. We can try and team up on qualifying and make the most of it, but we need a consistent race with a quality pit stop. We haven't stopped developing the car; and I think we have made some strides since Daytona."
Banner Racing debuted the new GXP.Rs at the Rolex 24 and put in a strong showing, finishing second with Edwards, Collins and fill-in driver Andy Pilgrim. Edwards is keen to keep that momentum going.
"We had a very reliable car at Daytona," he commented, "The car handled well and the team did a great job. We just had to pit for gas, tyres and a fresh driver, the car never went back to the paddock for prolonged repairs. For a brand new car, the race could have only gone better if we were one more step up on the podium. We are a little down on horsepower compared to our top GT competitors with the way the rules are right now, but we are keeping in the game with strong drives, good pit work and consistent lap times."
The #06 sister car crewed by team owner Leighton Reese, Tim Lewis and Johnny O'Connell came home fifth at Daytona, and Edwards sees no reason why Mexico should not suit the GXP.Rs this weekend.
"The Mexico City track is a great circuit, and the long straight really lets the LS2 engine unwind and go," he reasoned, "The back side of the track, with the fast esses, lets us take advantage of the car's handling and downforce as well as allowed the drivers to show their stuff.
"This year's race will be a lot tougher than the last two, so we need a good handling car in the corners, and especially the fast sweepers. The tyre is different this year, so the handling issues will be new. We need to keep the tyres under us so we have something left at the end. Critical to a good lap will be getting off of that last fast sweeper to maximise our speed down the long straight."
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