MOMO NGT Motorsport takes to Detroit's Raceway at Belle Isle Park in their No. 30 Porsche 911 GT Daytona (GTD) entry this weekend, May 30-31, in hopes of parlaying past street circuit successes at this unfamiliar course for the 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers.
While the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship team has not yet competed at this picturesque course situated on a 982-acre island in the Detroit River, MOMO NGT drivers Henrique Cisneros and Kuba Giermaziak are no strangers to competing on world-class street circuits. In 2013, Cisneros and teammate Sean Edwards took the American Le Mans Series GTC class win at Long Beach, and the duo finished fifth at Baltimore. Kuba Giermaziak, who also competes in the Porsche Supercup this season, took not only the pole position but also the win at the Grand Prix of Monaco Porsche Supercup race this past weekend in Monte Carlo. Giermaziak has also raced at the Valencia (Spain) and Norisring (Germany) street circuits.
The race weekend, which will feature the GTD class of competitors racing alongside only the Prototype (P) class of cars, also brings an open-wheel race to sportscar fans, as the Verizon IndyCar Series shares the event weekend with the IMSA TUDOR Championship.
MOMO NGT driver Henrique Cisneros, who is also a MOMO partner, has additionally been confirmed as a competitor in the 2014 X Games SPEED Energy Stadium Super Truck Series event, which hits Austin, Texas the first weekend in June. Cisneros will be racing his MOMO super truck alongside Venezuelan EJ Viso, who will also be representing MOMO in the Stadium Super Truck Series. While Cisneros is looking forward to this new opportunity, he and the rest of the MOMO NGT team are focused on first bringing a successful result at Detroit Belle Isle.
The No. 30 MOMO NGT Porsche takes to the streets of the Raceway at Belle Isle Park this weekendHenrique Cisneros, No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport driver/MOMO partner:
Having never competed before at Detroit Belle Isle, what are you expecting from this street circuit?
"The first thought that always comes to mind with street circuits is "is it safe enough?" It's a very tough challenge to design a road course from city streets, and this can lead to many bad accidents with so many cars pushing for the win. The good news is that Kuba is a rocket ship on street circuits. He just got pole and the win for the Monaco Supercup race, so we know he will be fast. I have also done well in street circuits in the past, so I hope we will be very competitive."
Coming from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where the GTD class shared the track with only the PC cars, how will it be different racing at this course alongside the Prototype field?"Laguna Seca was the perfect format. The speeds and lap times were similar with the PC cars and it made racing better for the fans to follow and much better for the drivers to drive. Road courses have so many bottle necks that the difference in speed and lack of downforce in the slow corners will lead to aggressive and impatient driving from the prototypes. We will all have to be on our toes!"
With this event being the only street circuit on the TUSCC calendar for the GTD competitors, how have you prepared to take on the more narrow passing lanes and traffic that go along with a street race?"Street circuits are all about qualifying. We have to get to the front two rows and then fight for the win. There will be lots of yellows and lots of restarts to make up positions, but we're ready for the challenge."
Kuba Giermaziak, No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport driver:
Neither you nor Henrique has raced at Belle Isle before. What are your expectations coming to a track that you don't know well?"I've been spending a lot of time on the simulator to get well prepared for this race. Every circuit like this is a big challenge and people who know it will have a big advantage."
What is your racing experience on street circuits?"I did race in Norisring, Valencia, and Monaco, so I have some experience with street courses. Definitely it's important to know the layout well and also to try to find a friend who will tell you some of the tricks which you need to know about the circuit. Having that inside knowledge just makes it much easier to do well."
Now that you've finished a shorter sprint race this season in the new Porsche, what have you learned that will help bring a successful finish for MOMO NGT Motorsport at Detroit?"We are constantly learning. It seems that we sorted out our qualifying performance and now we just need to get more miles in the race pace to see what the car is doing. We are trying to improve always, but as we missed a lot of running in Sebring, we are a little bit of a step back, but working hard to get there."
Ramez Wahab, NGT Motorsport Owner/No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Team Manager: MOMO NGT Motorsport will be competing at an unfamiliar street circuit with a new car for the next event. Last year the MOMO NGT team won on the street circuit at Long Beach. How have you been preparing for the Detroit Belle Isle street race to potentially repeat your street circuit success?
"It's always a big challenge to compete on tracks you've never raced at, especially a street course. Some other teams who have raced at Detroit Belle Isle before will have an advantage and that means we have to be dead on from the first practice session. We are usually very competitive at street course;, we won Long Beach last year and Kuba won the SuperCup Monaco GP last weekend, so I think our experience at those events will help get us up to speed quickly."
With the race at Detroit Belle Isle being even shorter than the most recent event at Mazda Raceway, how will this play into the pit stop strategy for MOMO NGT Motorsport?"Qualifying and strategy is the key factor in a short 100-minute race, and we have a strong driver lineup and a strong crew, so we have to play it by ear and react to any circumstances that come our way. I'm confident in our skills and our drivers."
The green flag drops on the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic (P/GTD) at 12:10 p.m. EDT on May 31. Tune in to FOX Sports 1 for coverage of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT on May 31, and don't miss the pre-race show on IMSA.com beginning at 11:30 a.m. EDT. GT Daytona/Prototype qualifying will also be shown live on IMSA.com beginning at 5:25 p.m. EDT on May 30.