Birmingham: Porsche qualifying report

PORSCHE GT3 CUP ON GRAND-AM GT POLE; PENSKE, BRUMOS STRONG IN DP POINTS LEADER KEEN EARNS FIRST GT POLE AT BARBER; BRUMOS, PENSKE SIX AND SEVENTH IN TIGHT DAYTONA PROTOTYPE QUALIFYING BIRMINGHAM, AL - July 18 -- GT class points leader Leh Keen...

PORSCHE GT3 CUP ON GRAND-AM GT POLE; PENSKE, BRUMOS STRONG IN DP

POINTS LEADER KEEN EARNS FIRST GT POLE AT BARBER; BRUMOS, PENSKE SIX AND SEVENTH IN TIGHT DAYTONA PROTOTYPE QUALIFYING

BIRMINGHAM, AL - July 18 -- GT class points leader Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) earned his first pole position of the season Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park and set his sights on a fourth straight win at the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Sunday in the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup he will share with Dirk Werner (Germany).

The green flag for the two-hour, 45-minute Porsche 250 presented by Legacy Credit Union is set to wave at 3:00 PM EDT (2:00 PM local time) at the 16-turn, Birmingham, Ala., circuit. SPEED TV will carry the race live on Sunday, July 19, at 3:00 PM EDT. Live timing and scoring, notes and results will be available on www.grand-am.com, with regular updates also posted on www.twitter.com/RolexSeries.

Meanwhile, the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley and #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley entries qualified sixth and seventh in an incredibly tight Daytona Prototype field - only 0.590 seconds separated injured Porsche factory driver Romain Dumas (France) from the pole in the repaired Penske Porsche Riley.

Dumas was disappointed at not qualifying higher on the grid.

"The car was not as good as it was this morning," said Dumas, who was second fastest in the final practice Saturday morning but qualified only seventh at 1:21.647. But he was just 0.590 seconds off the pole time of 1:21.057 posted by Jon Fogarty (Bend, Ore.) in the #99 Pontiac Riley around the very technical 2.38-mile, 17 turn road course.

"It had a lot of understeer in turn 13 and now in turn 1. The car was sliding around a bit but this is for sure from the warmer temperatures. For sure, the cars are very close together and there is only a little bit separating them. We will rely on Penske strategy in the pits and hopefully pass some cars there."

"My ankle is feeling pretty good, but it still very sore. It was easier to driver than I thought it would be since it hurt all night."

Dumas suffered a bruised left foot and two cuts on his left ankle in a crash during practice Friday. The Penske crew worked until 3 am repairing the car, and Dumas drove with his left food heavily taped. He noticeably limped around the pits, but will start Sunday's race.

Co-driver Timo Bernhard will drive the second stint, but will be ready to relieve Romain if his foot acts up.

"The gaps are very small from P1 to us, a very small gap. Yes, there is a half second but we look forward to a good pit stop crew and that could gain us several seconds right there. With Tim (Cindric, President of Penske Racing, Inc.) coming, he will have good strategy. We are keen for tomorrow - we will take that challenge. Romain will start but we will not tell how long he will drive before I get it. For sure, we will rely on the Penske Racing strategy and it should work out pretty well," Bernhard said.

David Donohue (Malvern, PA) qualified the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley fifth at 1:21.542 but believes he could have been a couple of tenths quicker.

"We never give up. That's been the motto of these guys and that's a good one because of the tenacity they put out. The Brumos Porsche ended up sixth and we could have gotten better but JC (France in the #59 Brumos Porsche) got caught in a bad spot by the 01 car and he thought JC was blocking him but in these last few corners there aren't many places to go and his payback to JC screwed up my last lap. I think I could have gotten a few tenths better, not a huge amount but a couple tenths better and that would have meant a couple of spots higher on the grid.

"Hopefully, we'll have a good race car and Darren (Law) can bring it home for a podium). It's very tough to pass here and tougher this weekend that it's ever been here. It's surprising the field gets so close at a place that is so technical with so many upshifts and downshifts and brake zones that are moderate and heavy and so forth. You could be the fastest guy on the track and be mired in eighth place. We don't have a tried and true setup yet, so hopefully we'll have a good finish and then find something during testing here Monday. The 59 car tried something completely out of right field - we were in left field - today. We're throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the car trying to learn as much as we can," said Donohue.

JC France (Ormond Beach, FL) qualified the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley he'll share with Joao Barbosa (Portugal) 15th at 1:24.306.

Keen and teammate Dirk Werner (Germany) seek their fourth straight Acxiom GT class victory Sunday and Keen thinks starting up front will be advantageous.

"Finally!  We had a car that was great to drive for the qualifying session," Keen said.  "We
changed shocks three times yesterday and we just weren't any good.  Today the car was

perfect. On my fastest lap, I had a perfect lap. I got my tires heated up like I wanted to, didn't catch. The Farnbacher Loles Racing crew gave me an incredible car today. Now I have to have a good start, make my required pit stop, and keep the car up front. I want to give the car to Dirk (Werner) with a good lead and let him bring it home."

Keen and Werner have a clear lead in the Acxiom GT point standings - 27 points. Mazda drivers qualified second, third and fourth but their closest challengers qualified just seventh.

"Sunday could be a great day for us," Werner said. "If we win, we build the (point) lead and we are closer to the championship. You drive a little different when you're leading a championship. You think about taking that risk you might take if you weren't leading the points."

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jon Fogarty , David Donohue , JC France , Timo Bernhard , Romain Dumas , Lehman Keen , Dirk Werner
Teams Team Penske