Bobbi Qualifies Second at Homestead in Doran Racing's Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus ...
Bobbi Qualifies Second at Homestead in Doran Racing's Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus #77
HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 4 - Damp track conditions played havoc to the schedule and an incident cut the Daytona Prototype qualifying session short Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but not before Matteo Bobbi qualified second for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Miami Rolex series race in Doran Racing's Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus No. 77.
The Rolex series' qualifying sessions were advanced more than three hours since that series' cars can race on a wet track and the Indy Racing League's cars cannot. An all-night rain Thursday night and humid conditions caused the track not to dry off completely until the sun came out Friday afternoon, and officials altered the day's schedule accordingly to try to accommodate the situation.
The Daytona Prototype qualifying sessions are normally only 15 minutes long anyway, but Friday's was cut short even more when Cort Wagner and Tracy Krohn got into the gravel off turn one. Both cars were able to return to the pits under their own power, but that brought out a black flag. In the interest of time the officials decided to call qualifying complete at that point.
Darren Law ended up with the pole with a lap in 1:15.433, but Bobbi also posted a quick lap early and will start alongside him on the front row for the start of tomorrow's race at 3 p.m. by virtue of a qualifying time of 1:15.562.
It marks the second year in a row that the Doran Racing entry will start this race on the front row.
Although everyone connected with the team was very pleased, none was happier than Fabrizio Gollin, Bobbi's co-driver, who got the news by telephone. He has been suffering from the flu since Monday, and although he tested the car here at Homestead Thursday, he decided to stay back at his hotel Friday in order to rest in preparation for tomorrow's race. He and Bobbi alternate who is going to qualify at each race, and since Gollin qualified at the Rolex 24 he knew he wouldn't get many practice laps in Friday anyway.
Gollin's doctors have assured him that he'll be able to race tomorrow.
"I think we were smart to push immediately," said Bobbi at the post-qualifying press conference. "We're very happy. To start second in only my second Rolex series race is very good, but tomorrow will be a very tough race. It should be great for the fans. Kevin [Doran] always does a great job.
"Fabrizio [Gollin] is not at the track today; he's sick in bed with a fever. I think he'll be fine tomorrow.
"The grip level compared to yesterday was a little bit lower, but the track really wasn't bad. On my first lap it was a little slippery.
"Tomorrow will be a really tough race. We will have to push all the way. The level of competition in the Rolex series is very tough. This series is where I want to be."
Both Bobbi and Gollin are rookies in the Rolex series and both are making their second start with Doran Racing and their first start ever at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Along with co-driver Didier Theys, they finished a strong fifth at this year's Rolex 24 last month, running in the top three for the last third of the race until a faulty spark plug dropped them to fifth.
The other DORAN JE4s in the field tomorrow will start fifth (Bell Motorsports), seventh (Rx.com/Synergy Racing) and 28th (HyperSport) in the 49-car field, which features 22 Daytona Prototypes.
The race will be televised live on SPEED starting at 3 p.m. Eastern time.
For more information, please see www.doranracing.com and www.crownroyal.com. Bobbi's Web site is at www.matteobobbi.com and Gollin's is at www.fabriziogollin.com.
Other interesting information can be found at www.grandamerican.com, www.speedtv.com and www.restartcommunications.com.