NEW BEGINNING FOR CORSA MOTORSPORTS AT SEBRING|
New is the Theme for Pruitt-Run Operation in 2008
SALT LAKE CITY – New tire manufacturer, new drivers, new mechanics, new shop … Minus the familiar Ferrari badge, Corsa Motorsports resurfaces as a new operation in 2008 after going through a major overhaul and wholesale changes. After a bumpy start in last year’s opening event, the team was forced to regroup. With the addition of Hankook Tire to the support system, the experience of drivers Gunnar Jeannette, Johnny Mowlem and Ralf Kelleners, engineering support from Multimatic Motorsports and a crew of new staff members, in addition to a move to a new 9,000 square-foot facility in Salt Lake City, team principal Steve Pruitt has been busy behind the scenes putting together a competitive organization moving forward into the season-opening American Le Mans Series event at Sebring International Raceway where his team will race its No. 48 Alabama Motorsports Park/Hankook Ferrari F430.
“Having competed in only two events last year, Corsa Motorsports is hopeful of growing as a whole this season,” says Pruitt. “Sebring a year ago was the lightning rod event that signaled both the end and new beginning of the team. As unfortunate as Sebring and the events that ensued were, the team has been assembled from the ground up and now is in a position to control its own future and become a contender in the ever growing GT2 class.”
Success in the Series’ most competitive class is a tall order, but Pruitt and his team of drivers believe it is not out of the question.
“We are participating not just to race, but to win; that’s why we compete,” Pruitt continues. “If I didn’t think Corsa Motorsports was capable of standing on the podium, we’d stay home and watch the races on television. I know it’s not going to happen right away, but once we are able to get the first half of the season behind us, I expect that we will have the opportunity to be in the mix at the end of each race.”
Tire partner Hankook is excited and hopeful entering the season as well. "Hankook has achieved success in GT racing in Asia and Europe, and now we look forward to the new challenge of competing in the American Le Mans Series," said Dave Martin, Hankook Race Tire Engineer. "We are fully committed to a continuous development program in an effort to provide the new Corsa Motorsports team with the most competitive race tires."
Mowlem is one of the most experienced sports car racers in the Series. A year ago Mowlem was a part of the winning GT2 trio at Sebring. This year, his knowledge will be a true benefit to the team and its tire partner Hankook.
“With Corsa Motorsports being relatively new to the ALMS, along with partner Hankook Tires, the onus will be [on the drivers] to provide clear direction in order to move ourselves to the front of the grid in as short a time possible,” says Mowlem.
Despite his youthful demeanor, Jeannette brings a wealth of experience to the team after stints in ALMS and Grand AM. Not one to call himself a perfectionist, he admits that he has a true desire to do things correctly. He’s played a key role in the development of the team heading into Sebring.
“I’m a really hard worker and I don’t give up very easily. That said, it’s been a very time consuming off-season,” he comments. “We’re been working really hard to mold Corsa Motorsports into a competitive team.”
Jeannette has aided in the development of teams in the past and thinks that his experience has been helpful getting to this point. “I have been in a development position with other teams on both the car and tire front. It’s given me a wealth of experience, and I think that has been instrumental in assisting Corsa and Hankook. By season’s end, I’m hopeful we will compete for podiums and wins.”
More immediately, the group is focused on finishing the event at Sebring and surviving its 17 corners of bumpy concrete.
“I’d like to finish without any problems,” Gunnar says. “Everything is new as a team and I feel that if we can work well together and finish without any issues, it will be a victory for us. We could also be in the top five if we don’t run into any mechanical issues.”
Mowlem adds, “Sebring will be very difficult in that it is our first race as a unit, and therefore you have to say that result wise, this will probably be our hardest race of the year. We have realistic goals and can only hope that we learn from the race and continue to move forward with improvement race by race.”
Both are looking forward to the challenge, working together, and driving with Kelleners.
“Johnny and Ralf are both very seasoned sports car drivers and have plenty of endurance race wins between the two of them,” says Jeannette. “This is very important to the development of the Corsa program. They also have a lot of experience with the 430 which helps me since this will be my first race in the 430 GT.”
Mowlem respects his co-drivers as well. “Both Gunnar and Ralf are excellent teammates and fulfill three of the criteria I see needed. They are both quick, rarely make mistakes, and they are good fun to be around!”