Portland: Highcroft Racing race report

Highcroft Racing Battles Back To Finish Sixth Overall At Portland Saturday Night PORTLAND, Ore., July 22 - Duncan Dayton of Danbury, Conn. was faster than anyone else at Portland International Raceway around the lap 42-mark of Saturday's...

Highcroft Racing Battles Back To Finish Sixth Overall At Portland Saturday Night

PORTLAND, Ore., July 22 - Duncan Dayton of Danbury, Conn. was faster than anyone else at Portland International Raceway around the lap 42-mark of Saturday's Portland Grand Prix. Unfortunately a few laps later another driver hit his Highcroft Racing Lola EX257 AER No. 9 in the Festival Turn 50 minutes into the race and the car sustained a flat left-rear tire and some suspension and bodywork damage. After a couple pit stops for new Dunlop tires and some repairs his co-driver, Andy Wallace, was later able to finish the 142-lap event in sixth place overall and fifth in the top class of the American Le Mans Series, LMP1.

Ironically that was the exact finish the team posted at an ALMS race at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah the previous weekend too.

Wallace, of Buckingham, England, qualified fifth in LMP1 and seventh overall in the 22-car field at Portland. Dayton started the race and despite very hot and humid conditions he kept it in that spot initially.

By lap 20 he was up to sixth overall after he got by Sascha Maassen in the Penske Porsche Spyder No. 6. He was trying to pass the other Penske Porsche driven by Romain Dumas for fifth overall when he ran a lap in 1:07.732 on lap 42, which was the fastest lap of anyone at the time.

Dayton was passing Dumas cleanly when there was contact between the two cars in the Festival Curves 50 minutes into the two-hour-and-45-minute race. Both spun, stopped and then continued, bringing out the event's only full-course caution on lap 45.

Wallace got in the Highcroft Lola at that point, the repairs were made, and when the green waved again on lap 54 he started his stint in 18th place overall and sixth in LMP1, six laps down to the leader.

"I thought I had the inside line and was in front, but he tagged the left-rear of my car and spun me around," Dayton told the ALMS Radio Web crew afterwards. "I want to thank all the guys at Highcroft Racing; the car was fantastic. I'm sick about it because we had a good run going."

Dumas complained about another driver's role in the accident when he was interviewed and did not criticize Dayton's pass.

Meanwhile, back on the track, Wallace got busy. He broke back into the top 10 on the leader's lap 100, just a minute shy of two hours into the event, when he got around the No. 007 Aston Martin GT1 car of Darren Turner.

He rose to eighth overall and fifth in LMP1 during the last round of pit stops about seven minutes later. He pitted himself at 2:09.57 into the event on the leader's lap 110 to drop back to 11th overall and sixth in class, but five minutes later he was back in the top 10 again, once again trying to pass the GT1 class leader, Turner, in ninth place overall.

He took care of that with 25 minutes remaining in the race to move back into eighth place overall. The fifth-place LMP1 car, the Autocon Lola EX257 AER of Bryan Willman, was in seventh overall, just 1.767 seconds ahead and on the same lap.

He passed Willman at 2:22.59 to move into seventh overall and fifth in LMP1, which was right where Dayton was when the green waved. The car that was running sixth overall at that point was the Intersport Lola LMP2 car of Liz Halliday.

With about 15 minutes left in the race the Penske Porsche No. 6 of Lucas Luhr, which was leading the LMP2 class and running fourth overall, retired with mechanical difficulties. That was great news for Halliday because a few minutes later she moved into the lead in LMP2, but it was also good for Wallace because it eventually moved him up to sixth overall, still fifth in LMP1, which is where he finished.

The Audis won, with Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello in first and Frank Biela and Emanuelo Pirro in second.

The race will be broadcast on a one-day tape-delayed basis at 3 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow on CBS.

Dayton and Wallace's next race is at Dayton's home track, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Aug. 17-20. That race will be on CBS at 1 p.m. Eastern on Aug. 20.

-highcroftracing.com

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Duncan Dayton , Rinaldo Capello , Allan McNish , Frank Biela , Darren Turner , Sascha Maassen , Bryan Willman , Romain Dumas