The general scope of the motorsports viewing public may be fixated on Indianapolis or Charlotte this weekend, but not to be overlooked is Lime Rock, just as much a Memorial Day tradition as the other two. The Grand- American Rolex Series GT class...
The general scope of the motorsports viewing public may be fixated on Indianapolis or Charlotte this weekend, but not to be overlooked is Lime Rock, just as much a Memorial Day tradition as the other two. The Grand- American Rolex Series GT class will run a stand-alone event this Monday while the feature Daytona Prototypes have a week off. It is the first appearance for the Rolex Series at the historic Lakeville, Connecticut road course since 2001, when the feature class was still the Le Mans Prototypes. It is also the first race to return to a standardized 30-minute, no lap limit qualifying system following the qualifying race trial the last three rounds, where the ultimate result of the DP race at Phoenix was five wrecked cars and many bruised egos. Grand-Am president Roger Edmondson saw the positives before hand and the negatives afterwards in reverting back to the original qualifying format.
The dominant force in GT this year has been The Racer's Group, focusing once again on this class that they controlled for so many years following a joint effort with Krohn Racing to field 2 Daytona Prototypes last season. The TRG Pontiac GTO.Rs have won four of six races to this juncture, with three of them coming from the #64 iRise car piloted by Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards. "We have a great car on these short tracks," Edwards commented after his Phoenix win. "The car was good here and it should be good at Lime Rock." Both Phoenix and Lime Rock are 1 ½ mile circuits, the shortest on the schedule. Their team car, the #65 F1 Air GTO with Andy Lally, Marc Bunting and R.J. Valentine aboard, won earlier this year at Virginia.
The Porsche 911s for Tafel Racing have been the top challengers to the TRG juggernaut, taking a win at Monterey with Wolf Henzler and Robin Liddell. Henzler is hot off a victory in a Porsche at Mid-Ohio last week in the ALMS GT class and looks to do the same at Lime Rock. The other two entries have run well so far this year but have contended mostly for podiums, not victories.
The BMW cars have mostly struggled so far this year. The #05 Sigalsport entry was a distant 5th last time out at PIR, behind a trio of Pontiacs and the Tafel Porsche. Nonetheless, the team is upbeat about their chances this weekend. "Lime Rock has been pretty good to me," Bill Auberlen, one of the Sigalsport pilots, said. "I think I have four wins out of the last five years there in previous events. The BMW is not the fastest car, and we've been struggling so far. However we are taking 75 lbs. off this week and that should help us."
Notably absent on the preliminary 20-car entry list is the Pacific Coast Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R, that in the last two rounds has finished sixth and third with Ross Thompson, David Empringham and Boris Said behind the wheel. The car won the Phoenix qualifying event quite handily over the TRG team. With or without this particular entry, a sports car Monday matinee at Lime Rock should be a cool dessert to the main courses this Sunday.