Grand AM »

Grand-Am: Auberlen tops first Mexican practice.


Bill Auberlen vaulted to the head of the timesheets just as the chequered flag on the second of two practice sessions for the Grand-Am Rolex Series in Mexico City, giving the #05 Luggage Express Sigalsport a place in the sun for at least a few hours.

Although the team was on form at the season-opener at Daytona last month, Auberlen's lap at 1min 22.458secs at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez surprised many preparing for Saturday's Mexico City 400k. The lap was quicker than the existing Rolex Series track record of 1min 22.732secs - established by current points leader Scott Pruett in qualifying last year - and came after Auberlen, who is sharing the #05 Riley-BMW with Matthew Alhadeff, had hovered just outside the top five throughout the later stages of the session.

The sportscar veteran's last-lap flyer knocked Oswaldo Negri's #60 Michael Shank Racing Riley-Lexus off top spot, despite the session being Auberlen's first at the Mexico City track in a Daytona Prototype. The two-time Rolex Series GT champion drove in the 'junior' class in both previous Rolex Series events at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, and his experience clearly translated to the quirky DP machine.

“We pulled that off with just seconds to spare,” Auberlen confirmed, “We were panicking a little, but the car was there all the time. We were always around the top but, in the first practice session, we had a little gearbox melee. We got the problem resolved, but it cost us a little time in the second session.

"We then evaluated some sway bar settings, tried a new spring and just threw darts at the board. Matt drove first and I took over and we put on some new tyres. I put together two flyers at the end, got baulked on the first one, but the second one got it done. This just shows that this team has the pieces. They give me a lot of freedom to spend their money and let me go out and just buy what we need. I don't think [team owner] Gene [Sigal] likes it so much, but it shows the commitment!”

Negri had himself leapt to the top of the time charts in the final five minutes of the session, claiming P1 with less than two minutes remaining. The Brazilian also led the opening day of practice in Mexico City last year, before a crash in practice prior to qualifying left him and co-driver Mark Patterson behind the eight ball for the remainder of the weekend.

“We are not quite where we want to be yet, but this was a good start for us,” Negri said, “The biggest thing is that Mark did a great job today. He was really quick here last year, but today he was even faster even when he was running with tyres that had a lot of laps on them, so that's very encouraging for the race. Michael Shank Racing has once again prepared a great car and the Lexus guys have been fantastic, so there's no question I'm optimistic about this weekend.”

Third quickest on the day was Jan Magnussen in the #10 SunTrust Riley-Pontiac. Both the Dane and co-driver Max Angelelli were quick in the day's two practice sessions, with Angelelli turning in the fastest time during the opening outing.

“I'm happy with the way today went,” Magnussen said, “I got a lot of laps and time in the car, and did most of that last session. We still have some work to do, but it's a really good place to start.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. GRAND-AM Championship Weekend Presented by BMW at Lime Rock Park. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (left) to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex Gurney and Jo Fogarty, drivers of the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP (right) finish in second place. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
John Edwards and Robin Liddell, drivers of the # 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R., race to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the Grand Touring (GT) class of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Rolex Series action [Pic credit: Grand-Am]
Alex Popow and Sebastian Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Ford Riley, celebrate in Victory Lane after wininng the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Alex Popow and Sebastien Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Soloson Ford Riley, celebrate after winning the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty - GAINSCO Bob Stallings Racing Riley-Pontiac   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Henri Richard/Rene Villeneuve - Polizei 144 TRG Porsche GT3   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Romain Dumas/Timo Bernhard - Verizon Wireless Team Penske Riley-Porsche   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas - TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Lexus   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas - TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Lexus   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Michael Valiante/Joh Pew - Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Oswaldo Negri/Mark Patterson - Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Ricardo Zonta/Nic Jonsson - Krohn Racing Lola-Ford   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas - TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Lexus   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Max Angelelli/Brian Frisselle - SunTrust Racing Dallara-Ford  [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Ricardo Zonta/Nic Jonsson - Krohn Racing Lola-Ford   {pic credit: Grand-Am]

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.