Terry Borcheller had an exhausting race weekend, but it ended with a positive result. The Gainesville, Ga., driver competed in both an American Le Mans Series race in Portland, Ore., on July 30 and a Rolex Sports Car Series race in Birmingham,...
Terry Borcheller had an exhausting race weekend, but it ended with a positive result. The Gainesville, Ga., driver competed in both an American Le Mans Series race in Portland, Ore., on July 30 and a Rolex Sports Car Series race in Birmingham, Ala., on July 31, commuting between the two on an overnight "red-eye" flight.
Borcheller's weekend started with the ALMS race in Oregon. He qualified his Saleen S7R third on the GT1 grid with a time of one minute 8.661 seconds on the remeasured 1.964-mile road course. He drove the first race stint, charging to the class lead at the green flag. He held the lead for the first 34 minutes of the two-hour 45-minute race, before he was passed by one of the class-dominant Corvette cars. The second car passed at 53 minutes, but Borcheller continued to maintain a strong race pace.
Trouble hit just before the one-hour mark, when the rear deck and wing came off the race-leading Audi, right in front of Borcheller. He locked up the brakes and slid off track, breaking the steering rack on impact with the track barrier. After a great start, the Saleen was out of the race. Borcheller's co-driver, Johnny Mowlem of London, England, did not drive.
"We had a good race car. We gambled on the tire compound and it paid off. I had a really good start, got past both the Corvettes and led for a long time. At the end I started losing the grip and I also made a mistake, so we dropped back a little bit. But I still think we would have been in a really good position when Johnny got in to finish," Borcheller said.
"When the Audi bodywork flew off, he instantly spun and hit the wall at the end of the back straight just before the Festival Curves, littering the circuit with pieces and parts everywhere. Everything happened right in front of me and I didn't have anywhere to go. The rear deck that flew off looked as if it could come right through my windshield! I locked the brakes up trying to avoid the Audi and then I spun into the wall. When I hit, it got the steering rack, so the car wouldn't turn -- it was dead straight. It's frustrating, but the car was competitive and we ran as good as we've run against the Corvettes all year, so that was exciting."
Borcheller flew from Portland to Atlanta, then drove two hours to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., for the Rolex Series race. His co-driver, Ralf Kelleners of Dusseldorf, Germany, had qualified the No. 54 Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need Pontiac-Doran JE4 eighth on the Daytona Prototype grid. Kelleners drove the first stint of the two-hour 45-minute racing, handing off to Borcheller at 1h2 for the final double stint.
Borcheller spun off track on a race restart at 1h14 and dropped to the back of the 46-car field, but he returned to fourth place by 2h7. Subsequent pitstops put him back to ninth, but he regained fifth place in the final minutes of the race.
"The race in Birmingham was excellent for us. We've been struggling lately with the DP, so this has been a productive weekend for us. It was a hard race, but a good one. There was a lot going on and a lot of traffic with so many cars on that [2.3-mile] length of track," he said.
"I spun because the front tires were taking longer to come in than I anticipated. I got a very good run on several cars ahead of me and as they maneuvered for position, I was squeezed some on the outside. I stuck it to the floor and was looking for grip that wasn't there and I went straight off. That made my job that much harder, but we came back from last with some hard driving, teamwork in the pits and good strategy."
Borcheller will be behind the wheel of the No. 54 Bell Motorsports/FTN Doran for a Rolex Sports Car Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on Aug. 12.