Two dozen Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series came away from a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway this week impressed with the Pirelli tyres they will be using in 2010 competition.
A primary reason for the two-day session was to allow Rolex Series competitors the opportunity to have their first test with the 2010 Pirelli tyre. Many competitors said they were pleased, overall.
"Perfect!" said Max Angelelli, driver of the #10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara.
"The tyres are great!" said Bill Auberlen, testing the #94 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 for the first time. "We ran entire stints, and a stint-and-a-half, and we virtually lose no lap time. I think Pirelli knew what they wanted to do, and they achieved it. Everyone's all smiles."
"I'm really surprised; we've got a gain here," said Mike Shank, owner of the #6 and #60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Rileys. "We've got a tyre here that we can double stint - minimally - at night."
Shank also feels the tyres will be a plus in the upcoming Rolex Series sprint races: "In the sprint races, when we only have to add fuel, we'll be able to keep a set of tyres on the car," Shank said.
Shank's cars were among the leaders throughout both two-day sessions, which ran virtually incident free. After finishing second in the 2006 Rolex 24, winning the pole in 2008 and consistently running near the top, coming close is no longer good enough.
"It owes us," he said. "We're going to get it. We're going to get it."
Reminded that his cars have been fast throughout the two-day test, Shank said, "That's getting a little bit old. We want to translate this into something good this year. We've proven that we can go fast in the practice and test sessions at least a hundred times."
Shank said his programme is not totally set for 2010, but he was happy to have AJ Allmendinger testing in the car in preparation for the Rolex 24, as well as Mark Patterson and John Pew. He was also happy with another addition to his line-up for this test - Ricky Taylor.
"Ricky has been the surprise of this test for me," Shank said. "He is doing really well. He's not that far off of Michael (Valiante), and Michael is trying real hard. I was pleasantly surprised with Ricky, and besides, he fits in great with the other guys."