Pirelli Motorsport and The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 are primed and ready for a return to racing action at this Saturday’s Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). The race can be seen live on SPEED at 2:30 p.m. EST.

Grand-Am race teams had a long three month break between the first two scheduled races of the 2009 season – the opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January and this weekend’s Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR.  A strong field of Daytona Prototypes and GT competitors – all on Pirelli P Zero racing tires – will take to VIR’s challenging 3.27-mile road course for Saturday’s race, which will kick off the balance of 2009′s 12-race season.

Among the competitors hoping to build on recent momentum is the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona/Porsche V8 Coyote team of sports car racing stalwart Guy Cosmo and motorcycle road racing Hall of Fame member Scott Russell.  The duo were joined by Russell’s fellow motorcycle champions Jeff Ward and Jason Pridmore for the Daytona opener in an AMA Pro Road Racing sponsored race car and managed to finish the grueling race despite encountering just about every type of endurance racing related problem imaginable.

“Daytona was a challenge and the Spirit of Daytona team did a great job,” Cosmo said.  “With the ever changing conditions of an endurance race, the one constant we had was the consistency and reliability of the Pirelli tires. We had no problems with the tires at all.”

Cosmo and the team have also tested extensively during the three-month break between the opening Rolex Series races.

“We did a lot of testing since Daytona and put a lot of miles on tracks like Roebling Road (Georgia) and at Homestead-Miami,” Cosmo said.  “Roebling Road is particularly tough on tires but we had no issues with the Pirellis.  With the progress we have made with this whole package so far, we think we are going to be running strong at VIR, and the Pirellis are all part of that mix.  We are looking at running in the top 10 and maybe even challenging for a podium.”

Although the 2-3/4 hour timed Bosch Engineering 250 is considered a sprint race, last year’s winning GT team used endurance-style tactics by maximizing the life of their Pirellis and stretching their fuel mileage to the limit.  The No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R of Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis know they can count on the P Zeros again if the race unfolds in a similar fashion this weekend.

“We have certainly found the Pirelli tire to be extremely durable over a race distance, and this is something which we were able to use to our advantage last year at VIR,” said Liddell, who drove the Pontiac in the final stint to the checkered flag. “When the race throws up an unknown variable, it is good to know that you can get home on the P Zeros.”

Davis also gives credit to Pirelli for delivering an improved 2009 specification tire that still has many of the same positive characteristics found in last year’s P Zeros.

“The new Pirelli tire created for the 2009 Rolex Series performed well for the Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R during the opening round at Daytona,” said Davis.  “We are pleased to find that the new tire brings the same consistency and speed that we depended on during last season.  The upcoming event at VIR will really put the new tire to the test, and I am confident that it will pass with flying colors.  It is a very demanding circuit with a combination of heavy braking zones and high-speed corners, and the Pirelli (tires are) the key to allowing our car to perform at an optimal level.”

The Daytona Prototypes and GT competitors will race simultaneously for overall and individual class honors in the Bosch Engineering 250. The race can be viewed live on SPEED at 2:30 p.m. EST this Saturday, April 25.

Pirelli Tire North America designs, develops, manufactures and markets tires for passenger vehicles in both the original equipment and replacement markets as well as markets and distributes tires for motorcycles and motorsports. Located in Rome, Georgia, Pirelli’s Modular Integrated Robotized System (MIRS) employs state-of-the-art technology to manufacture tires for both export and domestic markets.  For more information please visit www.us.pirelli.com.