AIM Autosport Fourth in Grand Prix of Miami
Homestead, March 5, 2011: A jubilant AIM Autosport team cheered its BMW-Riley #61 Daytona Prototype to a fourth-place finish this afternoon in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The team made huge gains since its car first took to the track yesterday morning and was handling terribly. Relentless effort saw the team gradually take control and field a competitive car for the race.
Jumping into competition at the second round of the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, the team was playing catch up as they had little experience with the Continental tires being used by the series this year.
Starting from seventh pace, the car ran as high as fifth place with qualifying driver, Mark Wilkins, at the wheel for the first stint. It soon became clear that tire pressures were slightly too high and the car became difficult to control. A swap to the set used for the morning warm up cost four places, but allowed Mark to run an extended session before handing off to co-driver Burt Frisselle with 1h 15m run (and 1h 30m to go). The team fueled the car and fitted new tires getting Burt back into the race in 11th place.
Over the next 35 minutes, Burt conserved the tires while maintaining enough pace to climb as high as third, but then he quickly lost grip. Tasked with running another 10 laps before pitting, Burt soldiered on until a full-course caution presented an opportunity. Pitting earlier than planned Burt reentered the race in seventh and appeared destined for the podium, but fell just short as grip faded in the closing laps.
“I came here hopeful of a top-five finish and we got fourth so, I’m very happy. It’s very encouraging,” Burt said after the race. “The whole team did an excellent job. We’re still playing a bit of catch up because of our lack of experience with the Continental the tires, but we’ll keep chipping away.”
“Burt did a great job, driving hard, smart and staying out of trouble,” said Mark. “Ian Willis and the boys gave us a great car that allowed us to save our tires and get them to the end.
“Our off season was far too long but it’s good to be back. I’m excited for the next race at Barber which is a good track for us.”
“I’d like to thank the whole team because they worked really hard for this result,” said AIM Autosport principal and Grand-Am Race Engineer, Ian Willis. “The engine was delivered just 15 days ago and everyone did a huge amount of work to get us here. No one gave up. That said, we still have work to do.”
Next on the Rolex Sports Car Series schedule is Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala., April 7–9.