This Saturday’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. may be the most important event on the nine-race 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón schedule for Paul Miller Racing, which fields the Yokohama-shod No. 48 Marquis Jet/TOTAL/IPC Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the ALMS GT class.
For starters, it’s the closest thing to a home race for No. 48 Porsche lead driver Bryce Miller – who hails from Summit, N.J. – as well as for Bryce Miller’s father and team owner, Paul Miller, of Parsippany, N.J.
Lime Rock was the site of one of Paul Miller’s greatest triumphs during his driving career – namely a victory in the 1985 Trans-Am race at the “Road Racing Center of the East.” It’s also a place that Bryce Miller knows well, having logged thousands of laps in a variety of racing vehicles and scoring top-five class results in both of his previous ALMS races at Lime Rock, including a fourth-place GT2 result in 2009.
“This is a home track in many respects for my family,” says Bryce Miller. “My dad won in 1985 in Trans-Am with Porsche. It is the most convenient circuit to our family in New Jersey and we’ve pulled a decent number of test days here collectively. We also host hospitality here every year with our partners, who are all mostly based in the New York metropolitan area. Of course, the attendance of friends and family make it special to us as well.”
Lime Rock has also been good to Sascha Maassen, who will once again share the No. 48 Porsche with Bryce Miller this weekend. Maassen, of Aachen, Germany, scored an overall victory in 2007 driving the LMP2 Porsche Spyder and has finished on the podium in each of his three ALMS starts at the venue, which at 1.51 miles in length is the shortest circuit on the ALMS calendar. That presents unique challenges.
“Lime Rock is short, narrow and tricky, so there’s lots of potential to make mistakes,” says Maassen. “I think patience is one of the main things if you have a good car. If the car is not so good, then you need to be patient too, as you have to wait until the others make mistakes.”
The Paul Miller Racing team has been working diligently to ensure that Maassen and Bryce Miller will have a good car at Lime Rock since the most recent ALMS race at Long Beach in April. Maassen led the team’s first laps at that race and the team has been encouraged by the performance of the racecar and particularly the car’s Yokohama tires in testing.
“We have tested some different settings and also played with the tire pressures to find the best operating range in the tire,” says Bryce Miller. “Our expectations are to improve again from Long Beach and to close down the gap on our competition. I thin we have already felt part of that step in our test. Every time we go out, we are getting better.”
It will be a busy weekend off the track for Bryce Miller, Maassen and the Paul Miller Racing team at Lime Rock. The team will host an American Le Mans Series Tech Talk at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at the team transporter located in the paddock. Bryce Miller and Maassen will also participate in the driver autograph session from 11:00 to 11:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, once again at the team transporter.
Beginning at 12:00 Noon on Saturday, the team will host a lunchtime Q&A with the drivers and other key team personnel and partners in the Lime Rock Park outfield for team sponsors and VIPs.