The official countdown is on to Circuit of The Americas’ International Sports Car Weekend. The event features three jam-packed days of racing and entertainment, including two of the world’s most-loved endurance racing series—the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS) on Sept. 20 and 21 and the FIA World Endurance Championship Series (WEC), which will present its 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas on Sept. 22.
For the first time, drifting will take place at the world-class racing circuit. Formula DRIFT professional drivers will be the first from their division to drift at this new facility, one of the premier racetracks in the world. The drivers participating—Tyler McQuarrie, Conrad Grunewald and Michael Essa—are all crossover drivers with road racing backgrounds, while Justin Pawlak is part of Team Falken Tire that will also be fielding a team in the ALMS GT Class over the weekend.
“We are proud to showcase drifting to the ALMS and WEC fans at Circuit of The Americas and be part of a motorsport-filled weekend,” stated Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “It is going to be a fantastic sight to see the guys drift through Turns 12-15 and around the iconic Observation Tower.”
In addition to the unique racing options offered at the Circuit, the weekend will also offer a variety of family friendly entertainment options suitable for all ages. An open paddock and pit lane and grid walks allow spectators up-close access to the teams, drivers and race cars. The Circuit will also be offering demonstrations, driver autograph sessions, a fan forum featuring a driver Q&A session, as well as an on-site Kids’ Festival that is free for ticketed fans, complete with traditional carnival rides, games and concessions.
For many of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patrón drivers, this will be their first taste of the newest road course in the United States. Not all teams and drivers are approaching this facility as untested commodities, however.
"Unfortunately, I think most of the teams in GT have tested at COTA for one or two days," stated No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driver Bryan Sellers. "So, the advantage I would have had in knowing the track will be null and void. If there will be any advantage at all it will be in knowing how the track races in traffic as well as in my own class. It is a very interesting track in race conditions, and that may lean in my favor a little bit. ALMS GT is some of the best racing in the world, with some of the best drivers in the world, it will not take any of them very long to catch on."
Sellers will have his first taste of the upgraded 2010 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on Tuesday, September 17 when a promoter test day is held at the track. A second test session will take place on Thursday. Two official practice sessions will run on Thursday and Friday with qualifying for GT class getting underway at 2:10 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) on Friday. A final warm-up will run on Saturday morning.
At least one team plans on using the track's unique layout to their advantage. The purpose-built, 3.427-mile circuit features a 20-turn counter-clockwise track where more than half the turns at COTA are left-handed. Coincidentally, half of the Extreme Sped Motorsports (ESM) driver lineup is actually left-handed. The two “lefties” competed at the GRAND-AM race in March in Austin – Johannes van Overbeek and Anthony Lazzaro. Aboard the No. 03 ESM Tequila Patrón Ferrari, van Overbeek finished seventh; Lazzaro finished fifth in the No. 69 Ferrari.
“Having raced there in the GRAND-AM race in the spring, I can say that it is a first-class facility that has set the bar for all other tracks," added van Overbeek. "The layout is interesting; a mix of fast and slow corners with a few technical sections thrown in. Austin gets lots of people to the track so I'm looking forward to putting on a good show for all of the fans with Ed in the 02 car."
The Circuit of The Americas (COTA) provides a new opportunity in the closing rounds of the 2013 ALMS season – a level racing field. Since this is a new venue, ESM is maximizing its time this week by participating in the testing sessions before the official race weekend festivities begin Friday morning.
Scott Sharp, co-driver of the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b, is third in the P2 drivers’ standings and just eight points out of first. He looks to overtake the competition both on the track and in the championship. Sharp and co-driver Lazzaro in the No. 01 prototype will use track time early in the week to get familiar with the circuit.
“Austin is new to IMSA and the ALMS, but some of us have raced there already this year," added Lazarro. "Our competition has tested there but I am confident that ESM will unload competitive cars."
Ed Brown and van Overbeek, co-drivers of the No. 02 Tequila Patrón HPD look to leverage a bit of local luck this weekend. Brown graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, while van Overbeek turned laps at COTA earlier this year with GRAND-AM race. In addition, lead engineer on the No. 02 HPD machine, Jim ‘Chachi’ Malicki, is an Austin resident.
The two-hour, 45-minute American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón race at Circuit of The Americas is the eighth round of the 10-race ALMS championship and takes place on Sept. 19-21. Qualifying for P2 cars is scheduled for 3:55 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 20. Live coverage of qualifying begins at 2:40 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 20 on ESPN3.
The race will be streamed live starting at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 21 on ESPN3. The race will be televised at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 22 on ESPN2.
International SportsCar Weekend – Official Schedule of Activities (Sept. 20-22)
*Times subject to change.
7:30 am GATES OPEN
8:00 am - 9:00 am Practice #1 - ALMS (All Classes)
9:15 am - 10:45 am Practice #1 - FIA WEC
11:00 am - 11:30 am Driver Fan Forum – ALMS (ALMS Paddock – Near ALMS VIP Club)
11:10 am - 11:40 am RACE #1 - LITES - 30 MINUTES
12:40 pm - 1:40 pm Practice #2 - ALMS (All Classes)
1:50 pm - 2:05 pm Qualifying - ALMS (GTC)
2:10 pm - 2:25 pm Qualifying - ALMS (GT)
2:35 pm - 2:50 pm Qualifying - ALMS (PC)
2:55 pm - 3:10 pm Qualifying - ALMS (P1/P2)
3:25 pm - 4:55 pm Practice #2 - FIA WEC
5:15 pm - 6:00 pm RACE #1 - GT3 CUP - 45 MINUTES
6:30 pm GATES CLOSE
7:30 am GATES OPEN
8:00 am - 8:25 am Warm Up - ALMS (All Classes)
8:40 am - 9:40 am Practice #3 - FIA WEC
10:05 am - 10:50 am RACE #2 - LITES - 45 MINUTES
11:00 am – 5:00 pm Kids Festival Attractions (Support Paddock)
11:15 am - 12:00 pm RACE #2 - GT3 CUP - 45 MINUTES
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Driver Autograph Session - ALMS (Paddock – ALMS Team Transporters)
12:00 pm - 12:20 pm Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (Grand Plaza)
12:40 pm - 1:00 pm Live Auction - Risi Competizione Ferrari GT Team Transporter (ALMS Paddock)
1:00 pm - 1:30 pm DRIVER AUTOGRAPH SESSION – LITES AND GT3 CUP (ALMS PADDOCK – NEAR ALMS VIP CLUB)
1:00 pm - 1:25 pm Qualifying - FIA WEC (LMGTE-PRO/LMGTE-AM)
1:35 pm - 2:00 pm Qualifying - FIA WEC (LMP1/LMP2)
2:15 pm - 2:35 pm Sportbike Freestyle Demo by Aaron Colton (On Track)
2:15 pm - 2:35 pm Drifting Demonstration by Formula DRIFT (On Track)
3:00 pm - 3:30 pm Fan Grid Walk – ALMS (Access from Paddock and Main Grandstand East)
(Access closes at 3:20 pm)
3:45 pm - 6:30 pm Race - American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patrón (Round 8) – 2 Hours 45 Minutes
6:30 pm - 6:50 pm Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (Grand Plaza)
7:30 pm GATES CLOSE
8:00 am GATES OPEN
8:30 am - 9:40 am Pit Walk - FIA WEC (Pit Lane - Access from Paddock) (Access closes at 9:30 am)
9:00 am - 9:30 am Driver Autograph Session – FIA WEC (Pit Lane – Access from Paddock)
9:30 am - 9:45 am Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (On Track)
9:30 am - 9:45 am Drifting Demonstration by Formula DRIFT (On Track)
10:30 am - 10:50 am Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (Grand Plaza)
11:00 am – 5:00 pm Kids Festival Attractions (Support Paddock)
11:00 am - 5:00 pm Race - FIA WEC - 6 Hours
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm Sportbike Freestyle Demonstration by Aaron Colton (Grand Plaza)
5:05 pm - 5:35 pm Fan Track Walk (Front Straight Only - Access from Main Grandstand East and West Sides)
6:00 pm GATES CLOSE
Three-day tickets for the International SportsCar Weekend at Circuit of The Americas are still available for $79 and allow guests the option of sitting in a reserved seat or viewing the action from one of the spacious general admission areas positioned around the 3.4-mile racetrack. Students and military members can purchase three-day tickets for $49 when they present a valid student or military ID at the Circuit Ticket Office.Children 12 and under receive free admission when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
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