Terry Borcheller's cross-border commute paid off with a podium finish, but he skated through a lot of rain in both Canada and the United States to get there. The Gainesville, Ga., driver alternated between track sessions on le Circuit...
Terry Borcheller's cross-border commute paid off with a podium finish, but he skated through a lot of rain in both Canada and the United States to get there. The Gainesville, Ga., driver alternated between track sessions on le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, in preparation for a Rolex Sports Car Series race at Mont-Tremblant on May 21 and an American Le Mans Series race at Mid-Ohio on May 22.
He traveled on a private air charter arranged by fellow driver Butch Leitzinger, which made the commute easier than solo efforts in previous years. "The flights back and forth were great. I was rested every night," Borcheller said. "It was much easier logistically because I didn't have to plan everything."
Borcheller had a painful start to the race week, when a component broke on the No. 54 Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need Pontiac-Doran JE 4 during Thursday testing for the Rolex Series event, pitching him into the trackside guardrail. Borcheller sustained a neck injury and the crew incurred a major repair job. They returned to the track for qualifying on Friday.
Although he had never raced at Mont-Tremblant, Ralf Kelleners of Dusseldorf, Germany, qualified 16th in one minute 32.303 seconds on the 2.65-mile road course. He started 18th after the qualifying time was disallowed because of a technical infraction, but moved to sixth in the first 15 minutes of the six-hour race, despite torrential rain and a missing windshield wiper. Borcheller took over at 2h29, but was zapped by a caution period immediately after he returned to the track. The other cars were able to pit under caution, dropping Borcheller back a lap. The pair finished 10th.
"They are speculating that an upper pickup point failed," Borcheller said of his crash. "I went off at an odd angle and consequently I hit the guardrail at an angle normally you wouldn't hit at. I went straight off as opposed to sliding off. I was able to get the car turned a little bit in the grass with the brake, so I didn't hit totally nose-first but it was pretty close. I was happy that I didn't get hurt worse.
"The guys did a phenomenal job getting the car back together. Ralf did a respectable qualifying time considering how little time he had on track and also the car wasn't tuned. It was as if we were starting our first practice session. [In the race] we ended up pitting early because we weren't sure about the fuel window. The very next lap after I got in, it went yellow and we lost a lap and never gained it back. We could have finished as high as fifth."
Johnny Mowlem of London, England, qualified the No. 63 ACEMCO Motorsports Saleen S7R third on the ALMS GT1 grid in one minute 19.055 seconds on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio road course. He drove the first stint, took the class lead after 27 minutes and held it until about 65 minutes into the two-hour 45-minute race, when he moved back to third behind the dominant Corvette team. Borcheller took over at 1h23 and held third place through driving rain to earn the final podium position.
"The race was uneventful for me. The car got better as the fuel load lightened, but it still wasn't fast enough to compete on pace with the Corvettes. We had some pitstops that we struggled with, too, but the strategy was fantastic," Borcheller reported. "The handling of the car has still not complimented the Michelin tires, I believe. It's frustrating because it feels like we're leaving a lot on the table. But at the end of the day, we were only seven seconds behind the second-place Corvette, which was pretty amazing.
"When it started raining, the surface was like an ice-skating rink. We had to come in for a splash of fuel at the end and we opted to stay on the slicks [dry tires] because they were hot. With only five minutes left in the race, there's no way we could have got the rain tires up to temp. It felt like I was crawling, but we were running a pretty good pace. It was really treacherous -- it was everything I could do to keep the car pointed straight in any direction."
Borcheller will drive the No. 54 Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need Pontiac-Doran in a six-hour Rolex Sports Car Series race at Watkins Glen International in New York on June 12. He had planned to participate in the 24 Heures du Mans test with ACEMCO Motorsports on June 5, but the team withdrew from the June 18/19 race because they believe a new rear-wing measurement criteria made the car unstable on the high-speed circuit.