Daytona Finale: Race report

Borcheller, Bell Motorsports Take First-Ever Daytona Prototype Championships with Daytona Victory DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (November 1, 2003) -- Bell Motorsports captured the North American Road Racing Championship and Terry Borcheller took ...

Borcheller, Bell Motorsports Take First-Ever Daytona Prototype Championships with Daytona Victory

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (November 1, 2003) -- Bell Motorsports captured the North American Road Racing Championship and Terry Borcheller took the first-ever Daytona Prototypes driver championship with the No. 54 Chevrolet Doran JE4's victory today in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series 250-mile finale, part of the Grand American Champions Weekend presented by Brumos Porsche at Daytona International Speedway.

Several teams took turns at the front of the field during today's race. Bill Auberlen started the No. 27 Toyota Doran JE4 of Doran-Lista Racing on the pole and held the lead for the early part of the race. A pit stop by the Toyota allowed the Brumos Racing No. 59 Porsche FABCAR of Hurley Haywood and JC France a stint at the front.

After retaking the lead, another pit stop by the Doran-Lista team put the other Brumos Racing entry, the No. 58 Red Bull Porsche, in front. However, David Donohue was unable to hold off Justin Bell in the Derhaag Racing No. 40 Corvette, who took the overall lead on lap 38.

Another GTS entry, the Sky Blue Racing/GardenIron.com No. 29 Mustang of Eric Curran and Stu Hayner, took over at the front of the field on lap 53 when Bell brought the Corvette into the pits. But, the Mustang's time in the lead was short, as Borcheller moved into the lead for the first time one lap later.

A third GTS entry, the Heritage Motorsports No. 48 Mustang of Dave Machavern, Tommy Riggins and Joao Barbosa, claimed the lead for a single lap before disaster befell the team. Barbosa was at the wheel of the Mustang when he cut its right front tire, taking most of the cars front and side bodywork with it. The incident put the Heritage team out of the race, but it still took the GTS team championship, and drivers Machavern and Riggins tied for the drivers' title.

Once Borcheller retook the lead after the Mustang's trouble, there was no looking back, and he cruised to a 13.998 second victory.

The battle for second place was more heated, as Donohue in the Red Bull Porsche and Theys in the Doran-Lista Toyota raced side-by-side, banging into each other several times during the final laps of the race. Theys was able to finally come out on top of the battle, and the No. 27 Toyota took home second-place honors, while the Red Bull machine finished third.

When the Heritage team went out of the race, the No. 29 Mustang moved into the lead in the GTS class, as well as second place overall. With a substantial lead over the No. 40 Corvette, it looked as though the Sky Blue Racing/GardenIron.com entry would take the class win, but on the final lap of the race, Hayner ran out of gas on the Daytona's backstretch, giving the final GTS win to Derhaag Racing's Simon Gregg and Bell, who finished fifth overall.

The No. 29 Mustang was able to hold on to second-place honors in the class, while the Re/Max Racing No. 05 Corvette of Rick Carelli and John Metcalf finished third.

Scuderia Ferrari of Washington entered today's race with a substantial lead in the GT class. While it would take very little for drivers Brent Martini and Cort Wagner to clinch the driver's championship, as well as the team title, the manufacturer's championship was still up for grabs as only one point separated Porsche and Ferrari. Because of the close battle, Ferrari of Washington brought in three Ferraris for the race, hoping that at least one would finish above the highest-finishing Porsche.

The Flying Lizard Racing No. 83 Porsche GT3 RS of Johannes Van Overbeek, Lonnie Pechnick and Seth Neiman, led the charge for Porsche, starting the day on the GT pole. The No. 83 Porsche and No. 33 Ferrari battle for the lead throughout the race, but when the checkered flew it was the prancing horse out in front, giving Ferrari its first-ever North American GT manufacturer championship.

The Flying Lizard Porsche finished second, while the Rolex 24-winning No. 66 Porsche GT3 RS of The Racer's Group's Kevin Buckler and Chris Gleason finished third.

The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will kick off its 2004 season with 42nd anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 29 - February 1. Tickets are currently on sale for the event and can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 386-253-RACE.

For more information on the Rolex Sports Car Series, visit www.grandamerican.com.

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ROLEX SERIES DRIVER QUOTES

TERRY BORCHELLER (Bell Motorsports No. 54 Chevrolet Doran JE4)

On winning the race and the championship
I did not anticipate winning the race today. I just wanted to stay behind the highest position Brumos car, but at the same time I didn't want to focus on that. I wanted to focus on the way we've been racing all year because that's what has worked for us. A little bit more conservative than normal, but that was the plan. I'm surprised (that we won) because I did drive conservatively.

On what the championship means to him and the team
I'm a believer--I'm a Christian--and it's just funny how God always surprises you. Going into the year, Forest and I had made our plan. We were going to try to win the Grand-Am Cup Championship and we were going to hope for a podium in the Daytona Prototype. Just as the year has progressed--you know God is really good at surprising people--and it's just funny to see how, even though you make your plans, it usually doesn't go according to your plan. It's been good, really good.

FOREST BARBER (Bell Motorsports No. 54 Chevrolet Doran JE4)

On the car and the conditions of the track
Terry can be a little more conservative than I can be in the car, so I was running about as hard as I could. It was pretty greasy out there and it got worse as the day got warmer, for Terry. But the car was great for me, it was the best its been all weekend and I got a good start and stayed out of trouble and handed it to Terry. I'm not surprised we won today. Whenever Terry gets in the car he wants to go to the front. We try to do it strategically, but Terry's a winner and this team's a winner."

On what the championship means to him and the team
Well, for our first year in this new series, in a Prototype, it's a huge deal for the whole team and for me in particular. Being involved in this kind of racing is really exciting for me. At the beginning of the year I really believed, with Terry and with the right elements together that we could possibly win a championship. I was optimistic about it. However, it' s even better than I thought. I really didn't expect it to happen, but thought it might and here we are. Its been a good year for the team. We struggled in the beginning and everybody pulled together and knuckled down and we've had a really good package the rest of the year.

DIDIER THEYS (Doran-Lista Racing No. 27 Toyota Doran JE4)

We were not as fast at the end of the race than we were at the beginning, especially in qualifying yesterday. I had a hard time following the guys even with some draft in the straightaway. I don't know, maybe we have a little bit more downforce. We'll try to find out and get some more straightaway speed next time. That's where we're losing to the other guys.

MIKE BORKOWSKI (Brumos Racing No. 58 Porsche FABCAR)

We battled hard. The team did a great job for us all year. We can't go any faster down the straight than going flat out. We're so (behind) the Chevys and the Toyotas in the straight line that it was impossible for us to fight with them. It's unfortunate. We watch the championship slip away that I really think we probably should've locked up a couple of races ago.

DAVID DONOHUE (Brumos Racing No. 58 Porsche FABCAR)

We tried real hard. The whole team put up a stellar effort all year. We came out of the block strong. We weren't able to capitalize on it early in the year. Frankly, we have a lot of work cut out for us. There's not much of an off-season if you actually look at the calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We only got five or six weeks to get stuff done. January comes up real quick and after January test days, you pretty much have to be ready to go. The race weekend in February, there's really no time to develop a car.

SIMON GREGG (No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Corvette)

My team, with Justin Bell and the Jim Derhaag crew, ran great today. The car was excellent. A win at Daytona is always nice. We led for awhile, then fell back to about eighth place. We slowly worked our way back at the end, thanks to good fuel economy and pit strategy.

JUSTIN BELL (No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Corvette)

I saw the No. 29 car stopped on the back straight on the last lap. It was one of those things. We had to stay out (on the last caution), we knew we'd have to make another stop like Stu (Hayner) did. Simon (Gregg) did the perfect teammate's job. He only dropped about five or six seconds on the leader, so he made it pretty easy for me to take the lead. Great crew, with the Derhaag team. We were faultless in the pits. Remember, this is a Trans-Am team, not an endurance team. I hope we can go endurance racing, and cause a bit of problems over here.

BRENT MARTINI (No. 33 Scandia Ferrari of Washington Ferrari 360GT, GT winner and co-champion)

My shift was full of bedlam. There was a lot of crashing down in turn one, oil in the track, trouble getting out of the pits. I was just glad we made it through it. Then I turned it over to Cort, who made it all happen at the end. The car ran great, the track got better during my stint. But when I first got out there, there was debris and oil everywhere, it was hellacious. We had a problem getting out of the pits. For whatever reason, the car just died, and it wouldn't refire. We had to push-start it, which I had never done with an F1-style paddle shifter. So it's good to know it works. I guess that's God's way of reminding us how tough it is to get a championship, and how lucky you are when you get one. I'm stunned by winning the championship. It wasn't where my head was at when I started the year, but Ferrari of Washington is a championship team, with Girard Perregaux, and the support from all our sponsors, and they helped me become a champion.

CORT WAGNER (No. 33 Scandia Ferrari of Washington Ferrari 360GT, GT winner and co-champion)

Pretty amazing. I'm still trying to digest it. It's pretty insane -- winning the first-ever North American GT championship for Ferrari. That's one for the record books. I've had a great career in sports car racing, but this tops it all off. It's amazing to win it for Ferrari. We were focused on winning the driver's championship, but we had a one-point lead in the manufacturer's and we had to win to beat Porsche. They were strong, and I was worked about a couple of them, Von Overbeek and Buckler. Those guys are fast, and Daytona is a horsepower track. We found a very good balance for the car for our whole stint, rather than just go fast for one lap, and it worked. I was third, and I ran down both Porsches, and was able to run a decent pace and pull away. I can't thank the guys at Marcus Motorsports enough for chasing us all year. The 69 BMW of Hugh Plumb and Brian Cunningham kept us on our toes right up until the final checkered flag.

SETH NEIMAN (No. 83 Flying Lizard Racing Porsche GT3 RS)

I think what really happened was the track really came to the Ferrari. They drove great. The cautions were even all day long, so it was a well-deserved win on their part.

JOAO BARBOSA (No. 48 Heritage Mustang)

It was tough for the crew. We thought we had this one. We cut a tire with three laps to go. That was really sad, because the car was running real good. The strategy was working like we wanted. Gas wasn't a problem, but we lost a tire. Too bad.

DAVE MACHAVERN (No. 48 Heritage Mustang, GTS co-champion)

It was a great year, and we're really pleased with the results. It would have been great to win the race overall, and we were leading four laps from the finish, but nothing can take away from winning the GTS championship. I couldn't be happier.

TOMMY RIGGINS (No. 48 Heritage Mustang, GTS co-champion)

It's really unfortunate to be so close for an overall win. We knew we were gambling on fuel and tires. We won the gamble on fuel, but we stretched our tires a little too far. We knew it would be close. We knew we were gambling all weekend, but we couldn't run the speed we needed if we ran the hard tire. I'm real happy with the championship. As time goes on, it sinks in, and stays with you for the rest of your life. I'm happy for Dave Machavern and the team, the guys worked hard all year. It's dampened a little bit, because we really thought we were structured to be the overall winner here, a nice swan song, but if, if--

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Justin Bell , Kevin Buckler , Terry Borcheller , Hurley Haywood , David Donohue , Rick Carelli , JC France , Joao Barbosa , Simon Gregg , Tommy Riggins , Chris Gleason , Brian Cunningham , Hugh Plumb , John Metcalf , Brent Martini , Seth Neiman , Stu Hayner , Cort Wagner