Darren Law Describes a Lap Around NJMP

DARREN LAW DESCRIBES A LAP AROUND NJMP ON CONTINENTAL TIRES

With 112 Daytona Prototype race starts, Action Express driver Darren Law has been in every Rolex Sports Car Series race ever run. So he knows what he is talking about as he takes us on a lap of New Jersey Motorsports Park. Sunday’s 2.75-hour enduro will be staged in some extreme heat and humidity as GRAND-AM hosts round 9 of the 2011 championship.

With 112 Daytona Prototype race starts, Action Express driver Darren Law has been in every Rolex Sports Car Series race ever run. So he knows what he is talking about as he takes us on a lap of New Jersey Motorsports Park. Sunday’s 2.75-hour enduro will be staged in some extreme heat and humidity as GRAND-AM hosts round 9 of the 2011 championship.

Just one point ahead of the sister No. 9 Action Express machine, the No. 5 Porsche-Riley that Law shares with co-driver David Donohue will look to move up from fourth in the championship standings with a strong run on Sunday.

“For us you’re coming flat out at the start/finish line and as you approach Turn 1 there is a reasonable amount of brake but it’s important that you carry momentum, and also you have an elevation change. So as we brake and downshift and turn up through Turn 1, you have to manage the car and make sure you’re careful coming off of that corner and you come over the hill at a fairly straight position. If you have too much of an arc over the hill, that will get the car loose and that’s going to burn off the rears faster than you want to.

“Over the hill at Turn 2 it’s feeding the throttle and you’re coming up the hill into Turn 3 which is a chicane and again, just medium brake. You go down a couple gears going through this section and you need to use as much road as possible and set up for the exit so we’ll use a bit of curb here and we have to be very careful not to go too far over the curb because you can damage the car if you drop off the back side of it. All the way through 1 & 2 and coming into 3 tends to use the left front tire fairly hard so we really have to be careful over the course of a run here not to burn up that left front tire.

“When we look at this track as we come off of three and head down the straightaway you only have a couple left hand turns and the rest are all right hand turns. It is easy to use up that left front tire and force the car to basically get into an understeer condition or even burn up a tire and that’s what‘s been great about the Continental Tire because we’ve been able to hang on and last through a long run here.

“All of these corners so far other than the chicane are medium speed and carry momentum. Then, turn 4 is fairly quick but the problem is when you come through 4, you can’t carry too much speed and be off line into five. When you come into five it’s a hard brake. It’s a long left hand turn and you need to be at the proper angle coming into this corner which is hard because it gets tighter and tighter there.

“As you exit off of Turn 5 and come up into 6 & 7, all of these are again medium speed, high momentum and not a lot of brake and again they’re using the left front tire quite a bit through here. Tire management is going to be a big key to this race. There is a lot of debris that gets built up off line so you’ve got to be very careful through all of these sections.

“Turn 6 is a quick corner and 7 is a quick corner on entry, but this 7, 8, & 9 is basically a big carousel type corner that tightens up at the end so it’s critical that you’re set up through here. Again, you’re basically leaning on the left front tire all the way through 7, 8 & 9 and it’s difficult to avoid understeer with this corner no matter what car you’re in or how the car is set up. Again, tire management on the front end is key.

“When you finally get to Turn 9 it’s easy to overshoot it because you have a lot of momentum through 7 & 8. Coming off of Turn 9 and into Turn 10 which is the last set of corners, it’s really a slow section and the key here is that you set up for the exit coming off of 10. What you really want to do coming off of 10 is get to the position where you can get flat on the throttle as soon as possible and it’s not much of a chicane so you can stay flat through there.

“The final corner coming onto the front straight (turn 12) is very fast. This is where Pruett had his big off a couple years ago and it’s a bit tricky. I’d say early on in a run you can probably get through there flat (full throttle), but there’s no way after a series of laps that you’ll be flat through that section. You’re going to have to breathe it to get through there. This corner is fast, and leads onto the straight and it’s critical that you carry momentum through 12. It’s definitely something we’re going to need here.

“This track is critical on the front end and with the front tires we deal with a lot of understeer here. So a slightly different front tire is better for us. I don’t know that we all have spent much time with it so it will be a development process this weekend. So I don’t know the end result here but with the testing we’ve done with Continental, we’re really looking forward to running the new tire for the front and hopefully this will be helpful for all of us. We’ll have to wait until we get through all the practice sessions to see!

“One of the things for all of us here – in cool weather like we had at Laguna two weeks ago, tire degradation over a stint isn’t really as big of an issue but when you get to the hot weather at a track that really leans on the front end like it does here, you’re going to have to manage tires and that’s going to be one of the keys to this race. The tires can go off over the course of a run. With our series we have a limited amount of tires and everyone is regulated to five sets so how we manage them through practice and what we take into the race is key. We’ve got to make sure we have at least a couple sets of sticker tires for race time.”