LE MANS, FRANCE – Michael Waltrip Racing co-owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman spent Sunday at the historic Circuit de la Sarthe in France testing the AF Corse Ferrari F430 they will race in the 24 hours of Le Mans on June 11-12.
[media-credit name=”mwr.com” align=”alignright” width=”224″][/media-credit]After arriving at the track on Friday, the Americans rode bicycles around the 8-mile circuit learning the layout. It was the first time on the track for Waltrip and Kauffman who prepared by studying videos.
Their teammate Rui Águas of Portugal started the morning session in the No. 71 Ferrar. He did the 10 laps required to race as a rookie at Le Mans setting his fastest time at 4m.09s.351. Rain on part of the track delayed Kauffman’s initial stint behind the wheel, but once he started he improved his laps times from 4m.47s.452 down to 4m.41s.650. He was forced to pit with a puncture in the right rear tire. With a new tire he returned to do a time of 4m.34s.241, before another flat tire ended the session.
“That sure is a quicker lap in the car than on the video. It is pretty cool out there,” said Kauffman who paired with Waltirp and Aguas for a podium finish in Spa last year.
“As it is the practice session nobody is really trying to race. I wanted to go for it conservatively but not be a roadblock. Pretty cool track!”
Waltrip posted three full laps before the lunch break. His fastest lap was 4m.30s.563. After lunch he found his bearings around the circuit and at the end of his 10 laps, his best time was 4m.17s.770.
“Before lunch, when I got in the car, I realised I did not know the track as well as I thought. After lunch I ran more confidently and knew which direction the track was going in. I drove very conservatively and basically got to know the track and got more confident,” said the two-time Daytona 500 winner.
“I said before the test my goal was to get familiar with the track and be sure to have that in my brain, so that when I come back I can go faster. Once I knew where the turns were I was having a great time, discovering where I can pick up time. I know I can find another ten seconds easily.”
Kauffman went back in the car for more laps and bettered his time to 4m.21s.765. Rui Águas moved his time to 4m.06s.162.
MWR’s participation in international racing events is part of a worldwide business strategy and a way to promote the team on a global stage. In the last year, MWR’s international effort has included visits to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, Toyota Motorsports Festival in Japan as well as races and tests in Dubai, Belgium and Portugal.