Sweedler and Bell starts West/AJR Ferrari from sixth row in ALMS GT at VIR
Alton, VA - Co-drivers Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell will start from the GT class sixth row in the American Le Mans Series Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway Oct. 5.
Visiting the picturesque southern Virginia racetrack for only the second time in their respective careers, Sweedler (Westport, Conn.) and Bell (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) spent both practice sessions trying to dial in the No. 23 West/AJR Ferrari for this afternoon's GT qualifying. Bell qualified the car with a time of 1:47.761 (109.242 mph), which he turned on his third circuit around the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course. That lap time put the car on the sixth row for tomorrow's race.
"This [VIR] was our best result last year in the Lotus, where we had a performance disadvantage," Bell said following qualifying. "Now, we've got a Ferrari. We think our Yokohama tires are very consistent on a long run. We just lack the peak performance that shows itself in qualifying. But, we're probably not that far off on race pace. If we can have a nice long trouble-free day, get lucky with a caution perhaps, we could be looking at another strong result."
"VIR is a great track and the Ferrari fun to drive," Sweedler said. "We are lacking some exit speed and that hurts us coming off of the Oak Tree Turn and a couple of other places. The guys have been making great adjustments on the car all day and the car is responding. The Yokohama tires are really consistent over a stint and we are ready to give it our all tomorrow in the race."
"The team is doing a good job dialing the Ferrari into the VIR track," team co-owner Eduardo Espindola said. "The car improved every session and we will certainly take another step forward in the race tomorrow. I am looking forward to a good run."
"Bill and Townsend are doing a good job getting the Ferrari handling around VIR," team co-wner Alex Job said. "You really need the complete package at VIR to be able to keep pace with the factory efforts. The car has responded to the changes we've made and the Yokohama tires are getting better every race. We will be tenacious in the race and take advantage of every position."
The television broadcast from VIR will air at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, Oct. 6 on ESPN 2. Live streaming of the race will begin at 2 p.m. (EDT), Saturday, Oct. 5 on ESPN 3.com.
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 70 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won four championships (GTC 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts nine Sebring 12-hour wins.
The ALMS GT Class is comprised of production-based, moderately-modified, two-wheel drive race cars including the BMW Z4, Corvette C6.R, Ferrari F458 GT, Viper SRT and Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The GT cars share many similarities to their showroom brands. With top speeds of up to 180 mph, these elite GTs produce between 450-500 horsepower and have a minimum weight of 1,145 kilograms (2,480 pounds). All GT race cars have green Leader Light System race position lights and green car numbers.