Relaxed and refreshed, Penske Racing is ready to return to action when the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 ends a three-month break with the April 25 Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway.
The team made its Rolex Series debut with a sixth-place finish in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, when IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe joined team regulars Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard.
“It was a long break – a little too long,” who joined Bernhard in winning a pair of American Le Mans Series titles for the team. “Now I’ll be happy to be back at the track. At Daytona we had a good race but not as good as we expected, so it was a long break. I hope it will be better the next race.”
During the break, Dumas drove a Porsche 911 in a pair of rallies, in addition to testing the Porsche RS Spyder at the Porsche Motorsport Centre in Weissach, Germany. The native of Ales, France, who now resides in Switzerland, also visited Florida to participate in the special Rolex Series test at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March.
“We still have to learn about the Daytona Prototype,” Dumas said. “It’s still new to us, and Timo and I have to learn a little more about the car. But that’s OK - we work quite well together. Performance was not our target at the test, we were trying different brakes and trying to improve the car. Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of workouts, a lot of waiting.”
While the Bosch Engineering 250 will be the first visit to the Danville, Va., road circuit for Dumas, Bernhard has a leg up in that he tested there once for Penske.
“I drove there once, and it is a very nice track,” said Bernhard, a native of Homburg, Germany. “I’m really looking forward to racing there. I think VIR will suit us well because it’s really a driving track - it reminds me of a European track. I think we can do something good there.”
Bernhard – a two time winner of the Rolex 24 for TRG (GT in 2002, overall in 2003) – is looking forward to his first “sprint” race.
“The rest of the season will be very exciting - I think it will be a good fight and I’m looking forward to it,” Bernhard said. “Now, it will be the short races. Honestly, I’ve never driven a short race in the Rolex Series - just the Rolex 24 and Six Hours at Watkins Glen - so the short races will be a new experience for me.”
Not that Dumas expects to have a problem learning the circuit.
“I’ll have four totally new tracks for me this year,” Dumas said. “It’s good to change, to see new places and to travel more. It’s good to learn new things. I’ve been here in America since 2003, so it will be nice to see new people, new teams, new tracks.”
In the meantime, Dumas won’t be getting ready by playing any computer simulations.
“I wait for the weekend to get to the track,” he said. “I learn a little bit on the internet, but I’m not crazy about computers, anyway.”Source: Grand-Am