Star Mazda Graduate Rusty Mitchell Named Co-Driver of Project Libra Radical SR9
Project Libra is pleased to announce it will enter a Radical SR9 in the American Le Mans Series’ next race, the American Le Mans Monterey Presented by Patrón, on May 10-12 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.
Open-wheel standouts Andrew Prendeville and Rusty Mitchell (a graduate of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear) plus one other driver yet to be determined will drive the car, which will compete in the LMP2 class in the 6-hour endurance race.
The entry marks the debut of the Roush Yates Ford-based V6 twin-turbo 3.2-liter engine in racing competition. This new breed of engines is designed to achieve comparable power but better fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse emissions than V8 engines.
The team intends to compete in all eight remaining races on the 2012 schedule with the car.
“After four days of testing covering 2,000 miles of trouble-free running following a joint development program with Roush Yates, I am happy to be going racing,” said Ian Dawson, the team owner and engineer. “We at long last can see that we can enter the balance of the 2012 American Le Mans Series season with a credible package to build on and with a new engine that we believe will be a strong contender from the outset.
“The Radical chassis has been fully upgraded and has given us a solid platform to work from,” he added. “The package now represents a unique and varied option for the LMP2 class, which is now seeing welcome growth.”
The team’s journey to get to this point has been challenging. It was the first team to run an LMP2 car with the new formula engine in mid-2010 at Mid-Ohio, but it did not compete at all in 2011 due to concerns about engine reliability.
The team is confident – and excited – about its engine program now, however.
“We tested this configuration for the first time in North Carolina on the actual second day of the Sebring test this February,” Dawson said.
Two additional test days on the 2-mile track at the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR) where the team is headquartered followed. Two more days of testing are scheduled there before the car leaves for California.
“We are talking with drivers to join Andrew and Rusty at Laguna as well as the other three longer races, and we’ll announce some of our marketing partners soon,” Dawson added. “We also have a second new chassis which we can run later in the year if we can find additional marketing support.”
“I’m glad to be getting back into competition,” Prendeville concurred. “The Radical has a significantly updated aero package, and although this is the first time this engine will be running in competition it was strong and put out a lot of power at our tests,” he said. “It’s quicker than anything we’ve had in the car yet.
“We’ve been working with Roush Yates for the last six months and they have workedtheir tails off,” added Prendeville, a native of Chatham, N.J. who now lives in Raleigh, N.C. “They’re real easy to work with, and this is definitely going to be a very successful engine.”
“I can’t wait to see where we are in comparison to the other cars in our class,” said Mitchell, who hails from Midland, Texas and is sponsored by Petro Communications.
Both Prendeville and Mitchell have competed in Indy Lights. Mitchell competed in three seasons of Star Mazda Championship competition, beginning with a partial season in 2008, during which he scored one top-10 finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna seca. In 2009, he finished 12th in the championship, scoring one podium, one pole (track record), two top-5s and four top-10s. In 2010 he finished 9th in the championship with ten top-10s and two top-5s. In 2011 he graduated to Indy Lights competition.
“I am pleased to say that we have had great commitment from our staff to our program, which gives us stability, as well as some exciting new additions to our team to give us more depth and strength,” Dawson noted.
The race will be covered on ESPN2 beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern time on May 13. Live streaming will start on ESPN3 at 4:15 p.m. May 12. Qualifications will also be carried live on ESPN3 at 7:40 p.m. May 11.