ATLANTA - July 4 – Porsche teams were on both ends of the ecstatic-miserable spectrum following the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Acxiom GT class points leaders Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) and Dirk Werner (Germany) won for their third straight race and four of the last five to increase their points lead. The Porsche-powered Daytona Prototypes were boiling mad following disappointing finishes.
For the third straight Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race, the spotlight was on the #87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry of Keen and Werner. The trifecta victory increased their GT points lead to 29 points, 221-192, over Pontiac drivers Paul Edwards (Ft. Collins, CO) and Kelly Collins (Newport Beach, CA), who finished seventh.
Porsches occupied two positions on the GT podium, with the #TRG Porsche 911 GT3 of Justin Marks (Chico, CA) and Andy Lally (Newport, NY) finishing third and jumping two spots in the point standings to fourth.
The top finishing Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype was the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley of JC France (Ormond Beach, FL) and Joao Barbosa (Portugal) in eighth position in the 250-mile race held in staggering heat (almost 100 degree F) and humidity (more than 80 percent) on the Fourth of July.
The #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley of Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) finished a season-worst 11th, the last car on the lead lap. The race was won by the #10 Sun Trust Racing Ford Dallara of Max Angelelli (Monaco) and Brian Frisselle (Aspen, CO), the fifth team to win a Grand-Am race this season.
The Rolex 24 winning #58 Brumos Porsche Riley of David Donohue (Malvern, PA) finished 32nd overall and 17th in DP after Donohue had an electrical fire that shorted out his dashboard and forced him to be towed back to the paddock for repairs after just five laps.
Winning has become routine for Keen and Werner, who posted their fourth victory in seven races this season. “When things go bad in racing, they go really bad and I’ve been there before,” Keen said. “I don’t know if they can get any better than this, unless we can win the next race, too. “It was a pretty straight forward race. I qualified second, stayed second most of my stint, and gave the car to Dirk in good position. He brought it home and we increased the points lead, That’s as good as it gets.”
Werner faced heavy pressure from Mazda driver Sylvain Tremblay (Miami) in the closing laps, but held on for the GT victory after the Mazda overshot a corner trying to pass Werner late in the race. “I knew he was trying to make his attack by the end of the race and his car was pretty good,” Werner said. “When you are out there leading, you don’t have time to think about the end of the race. The good thing is the guy behind you has to push and find a way to pass you. He has to make a move and then I can react. “The key to our success is Leh keeps the car at the front and that puts me in a good position. I don’t have to push to get to the front and abuse the tires. The crew is working well right now and we like to reward them with a trip to victory lane.”
Porsche drivers now rank in five of the top eight spots in the championship battle. Farnbacher Loles’ Eric Lux (1acksonville, FL) is tied with TRG’s Spencer Pumpelly (Suwanne, GA) for third with 185 points.
Dreams of any Porsche DP championship scenarios probably melted in the heat at Daytona.
“We are doing a good job in the infield, and we go well when we run alone on the banking, but we hit the rev limiter when running in the draft on the NASCAR portion – just running out of gear,” Bernhard said.
“Slow … slower … slower-est,” Dumas said. “Even with more RPMs, the power was not there. You would want to go faster, catch the car in front of you and you could not. Plus, it was so hot! All you could think of keep going, keep pushing, keep trying and maybe the other driver would think of the heat. I have never before been so frustrated and so angry in the cockpit. When I get so excited, I speak more rapidly and the crew say they can not make out my words. Maybe it is better they did not understand me.”
“It was really hot in the car, and then I realized there was a fire (in the cockpit),” Donohue said. “The dashboard was dead, so I couldn’t do anything about it. They towed me back to the paddock, and the Brumos crew made the repairs and got me back out there. We had such high hopes for the race, and it was a big, fat nothing.”
Dumas and Bernhard still rank fourth in the driver’s standings with 182 points but luckily only lost four points to leads Scott Pruett (Auburn, CA) and Memo Rojas (Mexico), who finished seventh in their Lexus Riley. Winners Angelelli and Frisselle are only one point behind Pruett and Rojas heading into the next race, the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Brimingham, AL, July 17-19.
Round 8 of the Grand-Am Series takes place on 19 July in Birmingham in the US State of Alabama.
Current Standings after the 7th of 12 races in the Grand-Am Series
1. Angelelli/Frisselle (MC/USA), Ford Dallara (DP), 70 laps
2. Gurney/Fogarty (USA/USA), Pontiac Riley (DP), 70
3. Dalziel/Lester (USA/USA), BMW Riley (DP), 70
4. Pew/Valiante (USA/CAN), Ford Riley (DP), 70
5. Friselle/Wilkins (USA/CAN), Ford Riley (DP), 70
6. Negri/Patterson (USA/USA), Ford Riley (DP), 70
7. Pruett/Rojas (USA/MEX), Lexus Riley (DP), 70
8. Barbosa/France (P/USA), Porsche Riley (DP), 70
9. Krohn/van der Poele (USA/B) Ford Lola (DP), 70
10. Speed/Busch (USA/USA), Lexus Riley (DP), 70
Result GT class
1. Werner/Keen (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 66 laps
2. Ham/Tremblay (USA/USA), Mazda RX-8, 66
3. Lally/Marks (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 66
4. Assentato/Segal (USA/USA), Mazda RX-8, 66
5. Henzler/Lux (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 65
6. Pumpelly/Ballou (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 65
Points’ standings Driver DP class
1. Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Lexus, 199 points
2. Brian Friselle, Max Angelelli, Ford, 198
3. Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Pontiac, 196
4. Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Porsche, 182
5. Michael Valiante, Ford, 172
6. David Donohue, Darren Law, Porsche, 162
Joao Barbosa, JC France, Porsche, 162
Manufacturers DP class
1. Ford, 224 points
2. Pontiac, 202
3. Lexus, 199
4. Porsche, 196
Driver GT class
1. Dirk Werner, Leh Keen, Porsche, 221 points
2. Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins, Pontiac, 192
3. Spencer Pumpelly, Porsche, 185
Eric Lux, Porsche, 185
4. Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, Mazda, 179
5. Robin Liddell, Andrew Davis, Pontiac, 178
Manufacturers GT class
1. Porsche, 233 points
2. Pontiac, 204
3. Mazda, 199
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