MONTEREY, California – Paul Miller Racing will be looking for its first 2016 race win and third-straight podium finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix with drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow in the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
Round Three for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) class, Paul Miller Racing and its GTD competitors will race at the same time as the Prototype Challenge (PC) division in a two-hour sprint this Sunday, May 1 at 3:45 p.m. PDT. The race can be seen live on FOX Sports 2 (FS2) at 6:30 p.m. EDT.
Then team drivers Christopher Haase and Dion von Moltke finished second in the No. 48 in 2015 at Laguna Seca, one year after Haase and Bryce Miller scored GTD runner-up honors on the 2.238-mile Monterey track.
Sunday’s two-hour sprint will have a different twist than last year’s race at Laguna Seca and the opening rounds of 2016.
After sharing the track with the PC class and the more powerful Prototype and GT Le Mans (GTLM) cars last year at Laguna Seca and in 2016’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, this year’s Monterey race will be a much less crowded contest.
For the only time this season, the PC and GTD divisions will share the track in their own two-class race at Laguna Seca, giving competitors more room to race and much less traffic. The Prototype and GTLM classes will in turn race together earlier on Sunday.
“For me personally, there is no difference with the reduction of cars on the race track,” Sellers said. “I think, as sports car drivers, racing with other cars is just what we do, so in my mind the more we have on track the better of a show we put on for the fans. With all of that being said, I think what it will do is lessen the interference of others cars with the GTD battle, which will hopefully allow us to race closer and more aggressively.”
Snow welcomes the two-class format and the likelihood of being able to race directly with just the GTD competition.
“I enjoy less traffic on the track as it means you get to race only the people in your class versus everyone,” Snow said. “More cars mixes it up more, there are more yellows with the added cars, but you can quite often feel as though you got robbed of a win or a position if traffic messed up your race. Having a smaller field effectively minimizes the wild card on track.”
Improving one finishing position this Sunday on the team’s results from the previous two years at Laguna Seca would give Sellers, Snow and the Paul Miller Racing team its first 2016 win and a boost in the IMSA GTD championship standings.
One race ago at Sebring, the No. 48 team led twice and was in contention for a podium spot. After a problem restarting the car during a late pit stop, the No. 48 fell to as low as 12th before the team charged back to a sixth-place finish.
In January at Daytona, Bryce Miller was taken out by another competitor while battling for the GTD class lead. The team rebounded from the incident and persevered to finish the race in 16th place.
“We have shown well in every race this year with some bad luck keeping us off of podiums,” Sellers said. “I think we are going into this race with the same mindset as all of the others, and that is to execute to the best of our ability. If that means we are in a position to finish on the podium, win the race and pick up some points along the way it would be fantastic. The team has prepared for this race and Madison and I will do our best to show them what they have done.”
Regardless of the race format, Laguna Seca, with its 11 turns, major elevation changes and trademark Corkscrew section, is a favorite stop for teams and drivers.
“The track is a very exciting track with so many elevation changes from corner to corner, and the weather is usually nice as well,” Snow said. “Another highlight of Laguna is it is the most fan friendly circuit as you can see the entire track from on top of the hill, so it offers a great viewing experience. If you choose to walk around to different corners there is not a bad spot to watch the race from as there are great passing opportunities everywhere.”
The weekend schedule for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix begins with a pair of one-hour GTD/PC practice sessions on Friday. Saturday includes a final 45-minute practice that morning before the 15-minute GTD qualifying session at 4:30 p.m. PDT.
Race-day Sunday’s GTD schedule doesn’t get rolling until a final warm-up session with the PC class at 1:50 p.m. PDT. The featured two-hour race is scheduled to go green less than two hours later at 3:45 p.m. PDT.