The iphone rollin’ and tumblin’ post Daytona test daze
Over the years of covering certain aspects of motorsport I have found the best
time to talk shop with a major player is on the phone after the event. When
they are on the way home or back to the shop to deal with the next batch of
urgencies or are just waiting in the lounge at the airport. One of my favorites
was Stefan Johannson years ago stuck in traffic and commenting “ Sure, I’m
not going anywhere”. Knowing that Allan McNish had signed up with Samax
to run one of the Grand Am Prototurtles at Daytona and was over for test
days was too good to pass up. The conversation went down like this, of
course this has been edited for content and language…ever heard that one
needs sponsors to go racing? Sure you have.
Allan McNish looks at his frequent flyer statement
McNish: Hello Kerry… I heard your message…don’t start.
KM: What are you doing over here, I mean what’s with you driving a
prototurtle, Ullrich let you do this?
McNish: The DP’s are OK, a bit different from the R10. It’s a good way to
start a new season. And I want to win and finally get a Rolex.
KM: Uh huh. What if we take up a collection and buy you a Rolex instead?
McNish: That’s not the same, it’s inscribed “winner” on it, I really want that,
finishing 2nd a couple of times doesn’t get a watch.
KM: We could maybe send Dario over to the Daytona Mall and get
“participant 2008 ” inscribed on it.
KM: But Nishy, it’s a Pontiac…. Remember the song “Tulsa Time”? He was
driving a Pontiac when he left Oklahoma. That’s no Porsche or Ferrari.
McNish: I don’t know that song, did Franz Ferdinand do it?
I followed up that conversation with another to the slightly more in tune, if not
guarded Alex Job. He has lots of previous history at Daytona, I didn’t ask him
about any watches though.
Alex Job: The Solo Sessions
KM: Hey Alex, I heard that the test was a real handful for the Crawford
Porsche. I rather hear your point of view… what went down?
AJ: I wouldn’t say that it was a handful but I would say that it was certainly
challenging. The new Pirelli tire requires a very different set up than the
Hoosier tire. You can almost throw out all that you learned on the Hoosier
and start over. This makes two years in a row that we have a new tire since
last year we had a new Hoosier tire.
KM: How do you cope with the stress of being a sole player out there
against an armada of Rileys? At least those guys can talk to one another as
most of the wrenches have worked on other teams and discuss set ups.
AJ: Being the sole Crawford certainly makes it more difficult compared to all
the Rileys. Bill Riley has a big group of customers to get information from,
although I am not sure how much of that is really shared between the Riley
works team and the Riley customer teams. The advantage of being the sole
Crawford team is that I am for the most part the works Crawford team.
Crawford and AJR have a very close working relationship and this should
really help with the development.
KM: Initial word is this seasons Pirellis are a lot better than the spec
Hoosiers but for most it has made everyone quicker. How is the Crawford
chassis coping with the new shoes? Forward or backward?
AJ: We are still coming to terms with the Pirelli but we are certainly quicker
on them like everyone else. We have yet to show our full potential on the
Pirellis but I expect we will be closer to that when we return for the race. The
Pirelli is faster that the Hoosier but it is not good when it is very cold. If the
night time at the race is cold many teams will have problems. It is like being
on ice until the tire gets temp in it and it takes a number of laps to get any
KM: Were you able to get some breaks from Grand Am on the motor issues?
#23 seemed down on power last season against the Detroit iron. Has
Porsche Motorsport come up with any new developments?
AJ: Grand Am has made some weight changes for this year. Engines up to
4.0 liters can now weigh 50 pounds less. Porsche Motorsport is confident
that we will have good power this year.
KM: How are your local boys doing behind the wheel in place of the Sturm
und Drang factory troopers you have had for so many past seasons? Wild Bill
(Auberlen) is well known as a charger, what did you see in Pal Joey Hand?
AJ: I am very happy with what I have seen so far. Both Joey and Bill are very
quick and very good. They make a very strong team. They both like the
same car set up and they both sit in the same seat insert. This should really
help with driver changes. Their driver feed back is some of the best I have
ever had from any drivers.
KM: Daytona has always been about finishing and slower traffic, have you
seen how many damn GT3 Cup cars are out there with varying degrees of
talent? What do you tell your guys? Do you have spotters that radio back that
GT so and so is a menace at the bus stop?
AJ: There are so many GT cars this year and most of them are GT3 cup
cars. A lot of them have rental drivers but there are also a lot of Porsche
works drivers in them. Hopefully this will help the rental driver situation. The
driver mistakes will play a big part in the success of any team. Our drivers
will have to make no mistakes and will have to really watch out for the other
guys. We have used spotters in the past. This helps with traffic and
KM: Well, one thing Ruby Tuesday HAS to be pleased about, the #23 is the
only car in the whole prototurtle field that LOOKS like a race car. If someone
is going to take a photo of a car, it most likely will be yours.
AJ: I agree that the Ruby Tuesday car is the best looking car in the field. As
long as it is up front it will certainly get in lots of pictures. These DP are now
doing 41’s at Daytona so I don’t think that they are prototurtles any more.
This is not that far off the old GTP times at Daytona. Pretty amazing when
you think about what a DP is. Won’t be long before they are below a 40.
KM: Good luck, I hope you have a run as solid as the debut one was a couple
of seasons back.
AJ: Thanks…. see you soon.