European Lemans Series, IndyCar, and IMSA
Columbus, Ohio (16 August 2018) – Fresh from last weekend’s double-victory World Challenge event at Utah Motorsports Campus for the AERO-equipped Panoz Racing squad, this weekend marks another international schedule of competition for AERO Sustainable Paint Technology teams with Verizon IndyCar Series, European Le Mans, and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship all staging races.
There is tremendous variety of venues, from the wide open space of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Speedway to the fast and twisty iconic rural setting for an unpredictable Virginia International Raceway, to the state of the art Silverstone facility for European Le Mans Series. But no matter the venue, race distance, or type of racer, there is only one goal for all involved—victory.
There is likely no team that is more eager to go racing than the BMW RLL squad, which came up just a liter or two shy of fuel for victory at Road America as the car agonizingly lost power while in the lead with just moments remaining in the race. The team, which has reverted back to its traditional Mission8 livery after having promoted the upcoming Mission: Impossible movie with Tom Cruise the last two races, has been testing ahead of the VIR weekend.
It is a key time for BMW as well, as the AERO-equipped BMW M8 GTE was developed on parallel tracks with the new 2019 BMW 8 Series, which will make its international debut just four days after the VIR race when the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe and the BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe will make its first ever North American appearances on Aug. 23rd at The Lodge at Pebble Beach.
Adding to the motivation from Road America is the sour taste left from the 2017 IMSA race for BMW RLL, which saw a puncture put paid to their run to the podium.
"Our results at VIR over the years have been bittersweet,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We have qualified well, but at times we have had issues during the race. Last year was a particularly unhappy situation for us given that we had the race lead comfortably in hand and then to have a flat tire with a couple of laps to go was very disappointing. At the last race in Elkhart Lake we had a pretty competitive car so we are hopeful that will carry forward at VIR. There is a long straight which is something that could be good for us and it also has fast corners but it's like all of the races, it will be a tough weekend.”
The BMW squad will also have to keep an eye out for fellow AERO Sustainable Paint Technology GTLM runners Corvette Racing, who have a stellar record at VIR and are hungry to break the winning run of its fabled Ford foes.
After a rare two-week break in the schedule, the Verizon IndyCar Series will be back in action this weekend as the series makes the traditional visit to Pocono Raceway for the only other 500 mile race on the IndyCar schedule besides the Indianapolis 500.
Two teams have put AERO Sustainable Paint Technology to use in pursuit not only of speed, but also incredible good looks as well as flexibility for sponsor opportunities.
The race is the home event for AJ Foyt Racing sponsor ABC Supply Co., which will utilize its partnership to bring nearly 2,000 clients and employees to the track this weekend.
AJ Foyt Racing will also make the most of the opportunity with AERO to provide a very special opportunity on both its cars. ABC Supply account HomeOwner Funding, based in Scranton, Pa., will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet while ABC Supply customer, R.L. Reppert, based in Emmaus, Pa., won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest and will be on the engine cover of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet.
For 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, the race marks his 357th IndyCar start and 297th consecutive start in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“They don’t call it the “Tricky Triangle” for nothing,” said Kanaan. “Pocono is a very unique oval with three corners instead of four and all of them are different from each other. I remember the first time I tested there when I looked down that wide front stretch going into Turn 1 I thought that was crazy. And it is, but it’s also a crazy fun track to drive.”
AERO Sustainable Paint Technology will also be deployed for two previous 500-mile IndyCar race winners in Graham Rahal (2015 Auto Club Speedway 500) and Takuma Sato (2017 Indianapolis 500) for RLL Racing. Both drivers have gone winless this year, and have that as the number one goal this Sunday as they hope to mix the patience and pace needed to go the distance.
“Our season has been pretty good in many ways,” said Graham Rahal. “We’ve had a lot of top-10s and a lot of consistency but clearly not great season because we haven’t won and we are disappointed in that but we have four races left to get that done. I think we can be very strong in Pocono. Pocono is obviously a very high-speed, intense place and then we go to St. Louis which is 1.25 miles, so half the distance of Pocono with really tight corners. The two ovals back-to-back will give us a great challenge.”
The longest race of the weekend will be Saturday’s four-hour European Le Mans race at Silverstone, which will also include several runners with AERO Sustainable Paint Technology. It is likely that you’ll need to only look at the front to find them, as United Autosports will be hoping to repeat their 2016 and 2017 race winning efforts on home soil. In 2016, the team made their LMP3 debut, taking victory at the Northamptonshire circuit and then went on to win on its LMP2 debut the following year, where it also, once again, won the LMP3 class.
Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque will look to back up their run to third in the last race (Austria) with the #22 Ligier JS P217 as fellow United Autosport LMP2 teammates Will Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer and Wayne Boyd (#32) focus on an uptick in fortunes this Saturday. The team has another stout lineup of LMP3 racers, with previous champions John Falb and Sean Rayhall in the #2 Ligier JS P3 along the sister team entry of Tony Wells, Matt Bell and Garett Grist in the #3 Ligier.
“Silverstone is a fantastic circuit,” said Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports. “We won there on our LMP3 debut in 2016 and won on our LMP2 debut in 2017 so we have a good track record to keep up. It’s been a difficult year so far. The competition has massively stepped up and we have been unlucky when in race-winning positions. Our aim, as always, is to win as we will do our very best to put on a good show for the home crowd.”
The Michelin Le Mans Cup runners will be back on track at Spa in September.