Montoya doesn’t expect a problem switching to sportscar mentality

Juan Pablo Montoya says that compromising on handling setups for the sake of a co-driver should not pose a major problem, despite his ingrained open-wheel racing mentality.

Montoya doesn’t expect a problem switching to sportscar mentality
#01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley: Charlie Kimball, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Scott Dixon
DP victory lane: class and overall winners Charlie Kimball, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas celebrate
Juan Pablo Montoya testing the 2018 Chevrolet IndyCar
Tim Cindric
Juan Pablo Montoya testing the 2018 Chevrolet IndyCar
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet, Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Dan Layton, Art St. Cyr and Steve Eriksen
Race winner #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Eric Curran, Dane Cameron
#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Eric Curran, Dane Cameron

Montoya and reigning IMSA Prototype champion Dane Cameron were confirmed today as driving partners in one of the two Team Penske-run Acura ARX-05 DPi cars which will be entered for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

However the two-time Indy 500 winner and multiple Formula 1 race winner who quit fulltime IndyCar racing at the end of last year said that he would not be worrying about fine-tuning the handling of the Acura DPi  as he conducts the initial tests.

“We've experienced this before in sports car racing," said the Colombian legend, who won three of his seven Rolex 24 Hours starts with Chip Ganassi Racing. "Honestly, as well, if you look at IndyCar, for example, within Team Penske, most of us always ended up going towards one single setup, even when we had four cars on the same team.

“Even at Indy, all four or five cars this year were very close together.

“[So] I'm not too worried about that. I think initially we want to make [the Acura] try to drive good. I think we'll have problems that we need to improve. I don't know because I haven't driven the car. I wouldn't know what to expect.

“I'm sure, as we get more along the lines of, ‘OK, we need to start finding some performance,’ we’ll need to find performance to the point that everybody is happy in the car.

“I think number one priority is make sure the car runs. I'm sure when we go testing at the beginning, it's going to be more of going through what Acura needs for their engine, what Team Penske needs for the chassis, to get laps, get information and get comfortable.”

Cameron, who still has two more rounds to complete his 2017 season with Action Express Racing, said he hoped that this year of experience with the thus-far dominant Cadillac ATS-V.R would help the team’s progress in learning what’s required from a DPi car. However, he expects Penske and Acura to have those matters in hand, and that his contribution would be more familiarizing his co-driver and the team with standard IMSA procedures.

It will be fun to be a part of the early stages of the program and try to contribute as best I can,” he said. “Obviously, Team Penske is what it is because of the people that are in place, as well as Acura and the engine that's going to be part of the program. I think it's pretty well‑sorted.

“Hopefully I'll be able to help out with more of the intricacies about the series, like the way the tires work. [IMSA] has its own unique pitstop rules… things like that. The way the races play out as well as some of the tracks they haven't been to before, some of the other drivers haven't been to before. A couple tracks maybe Juan hasn't been to, one or two of the only places in the world he hasn't made it to!

“I think the car and everything else will take care of itself.”

The ARX-05, which will be revealed this Friday, should start testing by the end of August according to Team Penske president Tim Cindric and that the only limitations will be ones largely out of the team’s control.

Cindric said: “Our plan, depending on how fast everything comes together, is to hit the racetrack before the end of the month. So hopefully we'll be able to achieve that.

“With regard to restrictions, it's my understanding that there really aren't many, aside from just resources and time, until we hit Daytona. You can only do so much in the off‑season with the way the weather is and that type of thing. I think our main focus is to just be sure we're prepared for Daytona.”

Steve Eriksen, VP of Honda Performance Development, stated that he doesn’t foresee a problem in coming into IMSA a year after the DPi regulations were introduced, despite the Cadillac’s strong ‘headstart’.

“I think it actually makes the process of getting a car homologated a lot easier,” he commented. “If you looked at the first year, it was a challenge because it had never been done before.

“The series learned a lot during that process. They've applied their learnings to the steps that are involved in getting your car accepted. It's made it an easier path for us.”

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