Two days ago at Barber Motorsports Park was the first time that either driver Memo Gidley or the Doran Racing team have tried out the new Continental Tires that the Daytona Prototypes will be running in next year’s Rolex Grand Am Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
After being the #77 Prototype’s lead driver for the past three years, Memo was forced to step out of the seat in July when the team’s budget constraints forced them to put in self-funded drivers to keep their season alive. However this past week, Memo was back testing the familiar #77 after Kevin Doran and Continental Tires wanted to get Memo’s help to evaluate next year’s tires.
“Kevin called and asked if I wanted to tire test and I of course said yes,” said Gidley. “I have always said that new tires are like candy and today I felt like a kid in a candy store with all that fresh Continental rubber.”
For the last couple of Grand Am series races, Memo has been teamed up with Wayne Nonnamaker in the #43 Sahlens-sponsored GT Mazda RX8. “I have been having a great time driving with Wayne and working with the Sahlen team over the last couple of races”, said Gidley. “And I look forward to getting back in that awesome Mazda.”
At Barber, Muscle Milk Extreme Athlete Gidley braved temperatures that soared above 100 degrees and logged over 250 miles in the #77 McDonald’s Ford Dallara. Continental brought various compounds and constructions changes for Memo and the Doran team to sample with the goal of helping the Continental engineers narrow down their choice before the 2011 season begins at Daytona in January.
“I was pleasantly surprised with many of the qualities that the new Continental tires have”, said Gidley. “Things like how quickly the Continentals gripped up and the overall balance and feel of the tires was quite good. The conditions today, with temperatures in the 100s and the humidity at the worst I’ve felt, was definitely about the toughest conditions that a tire will ever find.”
The Doran team never missed a beat all day and was able to get through all the requested Continental tires to run and still have a little more time at the end to help tune their setup for next year. “I had a great time back with my familiar crew on the #77,” said Gidley. “They are all a really tight knit group that has the ability to work together and get a lot done in a relatively short amount of time. Thanks to the team and their hard work it was a very successful test for Continental and the Doran Team… and a lot of fun for me!”