The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the pinnacle for most participants in the racing community, the Olympics of racing some might say, and that sentiment is no different for tire manufacturers. Since its opening in 1909, the storied Brickyard has tested a variety of tire manufacturers and on July 27, 2012, Continental Tire was given their shot to compete at the world’s most famous race track when the GRAND-AM Series made its debut. Following a year of preparation and numerous test sessions, Continental’s tires were put to the test on Friday in both sun and rain and the reviews were nothing short of outstanding.
“Our team at Continental Tire has worked tirelessly to develop a tire that would stand-up to the demands of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental Tire. “After watching both races, I’m extremely proud of the tire we provided. I think fans saw some great racing and the feedback from the teams was extraordinary. It’s an honor to compete at such a prestigious track like Indy and, as a tire manufacturer, to be successful in our first outing is certainly something we are excited about.”
Teams were armed with Continental’s ‘I’ compound as they took to the track Friday. Following an open test session July 5 and 6, the road course portion of the Speedway held a good amount of rubber so all the teams got off to a fast start Friday morning. Intermittent rain showers arrived in the afternoon plaguing both races and providing the opportunity for teams to test Continental’s rain tires in addition to the ‘I’ compound.
The Rolex Series started on rain tires but moved between rain and dry tires for the duration of the three hour race. Challenging conditions for even the best of drivers but at the finish, it was open-wheel wiz Sebastian Bourdais with co-driver Alex Popow who emerged victorious in the No. 2 Starworks Ford for the overall win and Daytona Prototype (DP) win. Following an up and down day, Scott Pruett made a late-race charge in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW but came up just shy to finish second with co-driver Memo Rojas.
“I think it showed the diversity, you know it was torrential downpours,” sited Pruett during a post-race press conference. “You couldn’t even get the car turned, you were just floating across. It’s a difficult thing because you’re talking about a pretty big challenge with ever-changing conditions. You’re asking a lot of the tire and I think all the competitors here were pleased with the end result.”
The No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche with John Potter and Andy Lally behind the wheel captured the Grand Touring (GT) win. And while the race presented many challenges, veteran driver Lally expressed confidence in the Continental tires.
“They did a pretty good job. John (Potter) ran mostly in the wet, he had some dry laps right at the end, and even as it was drying he did his fastest lap of the weekend right there at the very end of that run. And I think everyone in Rolex did their fastest lap at the end of this race after a pretty long run. We did a stint-and-a-quarter, stint-and-a-half, on the Continentals so they did a good job.”
The inaugural Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at the Brickyard was nothing shy of thrilling. Team’s moved back-and-forth between slick and rain tires until the closing minutes of the 2 ½ hour race. Following a 25-minute red flag for standing water on the track, with impending weather, some team’s opted for dry tires while other’s changed to rain tires and those who opted for dry, came out on top. The duo of Eric Curran and Lawson Aschenbach held off the competition to give the CKS Autosport team their first win in the series.
“The test was probably 110 with the heat index and the tires lasted fine, they ran fine,” said Aschenbach following the race. “Fortunately it stayed fairly cool today. For us, our tires held up great. We actually ran that whole first hour-and-a-half changing one tire and it was because when we tried to change the left sides we only got the left front, the guy got kind of screwed up, so we decided to leave the left rear. Just that in itself is a testament to how great the tires are. I thought it was a great tire.”
BimmerWorld Racing’s Dan Rogers and Seth Thomas brought home the Street Tuner (ST) win in the No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW 328i. With their inaugural Brickyard wins, the Starworks Racing and Magnus Racing team’s captured the first annual North American Endurance Championship titles in DP and GT competition respectively.
The Rolex Series returns to action Saturday, August 10 at Watkins Glen International. MRN radio will cover the race live and fans can watch live action on Speed starting at 6:00 p.m. ET. Can’t be at the track? Follow us on Twitter @continentaltire for live updates from the track.
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