Wednesday, March 16, 2016—Fresno, CA—PR1 Motorsports heads south to the infamous 17-turn, 3.74-mile track that is Sebring International Raceway. After completing a successful two-day test there in February, both the team and drivers are ready to get back on track for the 64th running of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.
For teammates Robert Alon and Tom Kimber-Smith, Sebring is a track that they both have visited multiple times, but for teammate Jose Gutierrez, the Sebring Test marked the first opportunity for him to turn laps at famed course.
“My cousin tested here in the IMSA Lites car and told me that it was a very fun track, but bumpy, so I’ve been practicing a lot in the simulator driving a P2 car, but it’s a lot different between the PC car and the P2 car,” explained Gutierrez, 19, of Monterey, Mexico.
“My first laps in the PC car I was like, ‘WOAH, this place is bumpy.’ After the initial shock of how the track felt, I think I got adjusted pretty fast. During the test I was fast, and finished P3 and only three or four-tenths behind Colin Braun, so I was happy with that achievement. I’m hoping for the race I’ll be able to improve my lap times and be right there with Tom (Kimber-Smith).”
Alon, 25, of Encino, California has visited Sebring multiple times in the IMSA Prototype Lites series, but took his first laps in the PC car during the Sebring Test.
“I’ve been here probably more than any other track in the Lites car. I love the track. It’s always been good to me, but I didn’t expect such a big difference between the Lites car and the PC,” stated Alon.
“You really feel all of the bumps and it’s a bit jarring at first, but it really just adds to the fun and the challenge. Learning this car on different tracks with different setups is a constant test, but it’s one that I really enjoy and now having a feel for the car around this track in particular, I can’t wait to get back on track for my first Sebring 12 Hours and hopefully be at the front of the pack around 10:40 on Saturday night!”
During the two-day IMSA test, a few of the PC teams were able to test an array of new updates to the PC car. Although you won’t notice any physical change to the car, there were several updates made underneath the bodywork including engine and electronics updates, and the cars will also benefit from traction control for the race. PR1 did not see the updates during the test, but will make the updates before the 12 Hours of Sebring.
“We didn’t receive our updates for the car until the truck left before the test, so we came to the test running last year’s spec car, which is the same car that we ran at Daytona,” explained Kimber-Smith, 31, of Wokingham, England.
“The main focus for the two-day test was to get the other two drivers (Gutierrez and Alon) up to speed with the car and the track. Jose did an incredible job throughout his sessions, and was able to come very close to matching the guys’ times who have already had the updates to their cars, which is great. Robert has been extremely quick as well, and has done a fantastic job getting up to speed with the PC car here.”
With the 12 Hours of Sebring swiftly approaching, the team is ready to get their updated car back on track and fight to defend their 2015 PC race win. The growing threat of stormy weather on Saturday doesn’t seem to have the team or drivers worried, but rather excited for the possibility.
“We’re looking forward to the 12 Hour. I think we have another good line up. We just have to stay consistent and stay out of trouble,” said Kimber-Smith.
“It looks like we might have some rain on Saturday, but we like the rain. It worked out well for us at Petit, and if we see some on Saturday, we’re going to choose to see it as an opportunity. These guys (Gutierrez and Alon) have proven at Daytona that they can do the job, and hopefully they can bring the same attitude and speed that we saw at Daytona here to Sebring for the 12 Hours.”
You can watch the 64th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring LIVE and in it’s entirety during the following broadcast times:
10:30 AM EST – 3/19/16 – FOX Sports 1
12:00 PM EST – 3/19/16 – FOX Sports 2
7:00 PM EST -- 3/19/16 – IMSA.com
10:00 PM EST – 3/19/16 – FOX Sports 2
And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook – @PR1Motorsports – to stay up to date with all of the team and drivers’ racing news!
About PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports
In paddocks packed with excellent teams and quality drivers, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has established itself as one of motorsport’s premier organizations. The operation is based in Fresno, CA where PR1/Mathiasen occupies a 5000 square foot facility that houses a stable of F2000 Zetec, F1600, GRAND-AM, and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship racecars, plus a full-time crew of technicians and engineers. Since 1990, PR1/Mathiasen has won over 45 championships in a wide assortment of world-class series before joining the American Le Mans Series full-time in 2010. PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ latest championship win was the 2015 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup Championship with drivers Tom Kimber-Smith, Michael Gausch and Andrew Palmer. The team’s alumni and active driver roster includes an impressive list of accomplished drivers including IndyCar stars J.R. Hildebrand and Charlie Kimball, sports car legends Luiz Diaz, Butch Leitzinger, and Marino Franchitti, and rising stars Dane Cameron, Jonathan Bomarito, and Ryan Lewis.
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