Laguna Seca: Series qualifying report

Donohue Earns Second Rolex Series Pole of 2008 Season; Fogarty to Start Second Saturday at Laguna Seca Nick Ham wins Rolex Series GT pole, setting track record by more than two seconds MONTEREY, Calif. (May 16, 2008) -- David Donohue saved...

Donohue Earns Second Rolex Series Pole of 2008 Season; Fogarty to Start Second Saturday at Laguna Seca
Nick Ham wins Rolex Series GT pole, setting track record by more than two seconds

MONTEREY, Calif. (May 16, 2008) -- David Donohue saved his best qualifying lap for his last Friday afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, running his fastest lap near the end of the session to win the pole for Saturday's RumBum.com 250 at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn track, the fifth race on the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 schedule.

Donohue ran a lap of 1:19.843 (100.908 mph) on the eighth of his nine qualifying laps to win his second pole of the season in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, and will lead the field to the green flag for the 112-lap, 250-mile race, (two-hour, 45-minute time limit), which will fly at 1:45 p.m. PT Saturday (SPEED, Noon ET Sunday). It marks his second pole position of the season, as he also topped qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March.

Donohue will be joined on the front row by Jon Fogarty, who gave the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley its first front row start of the season with a lap of 1:19.951 (100.772 mph). Fogarty was also contending for the pole late in the session but a suspension failure led to an off-course excursion in the famed Corkscrew turn on his final lap.

Starting the race in the second row will be Memo Rojas (1:20.371; 100.371 mph) in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley he shares with Scott Pruett, and the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford of Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand (1:20.318; 100.311 mph). Rojas -- serving a two-race probation period starting with this weekend -- and Pruett will be seeking their fourth victory in five races this season in Saturday's event.

Brian Frisselle was fifth in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley co-driven by Mark Wilkins, while Jimmy Vasser timed in sixth in the No. 98 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley he shares with Cristiano da Matta. The latter is making his comeback to racing following a two-year layoff after a testing accident in the Champ Car World Series.

In GT, Nick Ham won his first pole of the season for SpeedSource, and second for the team after co-driver Sylvain Tremblay won the pole at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Ham ran a lap of 1:27.014 (92.592 mph) in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8.

Pierre Kaffer, making his third start of the season for Farnbacher Loles Racing, was second fastest in the No. 87 Porsche GT3. Kaffer, who shares the car with defending Rolex Series GT driving champion Dirk Werner, was the polesitter for the Mexico City 250 last month.

Saturday's schedule opens with final practice at 10 a.m. PT, with the race starting at 1:45 p.m. PT.

FAST FACTS (POST-QUALIFYING, PRE-RACE)

- This is David Donohue's second Rolex Series Daytona Prototype pole (1:19.843; 100.908 mph) of the season and the second for the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley. It also marks Donohue's seventh career Daytona Prototype pole position.

- Donohue is the first driver this season to post multiple pole positions, as he also earned the top starting spot for the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami. Others to have won a pole include Oswaldo Negri (Rolex 24 At Daytona), Memo Rojas (Mexico City) and Michael Valiante (Virginia International Raceway).

- Jon Fogarty's (1:19.951; 100.772 mph) outside front row starting spot marks the first front row start for the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley team this season. Last year, the team started on the front row for all 14 races on the schedule.

- Ten drivers were fastest than last year's Daytona Prototype track qualifying record of 1:20.787 (Jon Fogarty, 2007) and five drivers averaged a lap of more than 100 mph.

- This marks the second pole for a Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype in 2008. Ford, Pontiac and Lexus each have one pole position this season.

- Porsche had two cars in the top five, while Pontiac, Lexus and Ford each had one. The top starting BMW is Gene Sigal's No. 7 Rum Bum Racing machine, starting 18th.

- The last team to win a race from the pole was the No. 99 Pontiac Riley (Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty) in August 2007 (Infineon Raceway). This season, the top starting position to win a race was third (TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates).

- This is Nick Ham's fourth career Rolex Series GT pole (1:27.014; 92.592 mph) and first this season. Ham also won the pole for the 2007 Rolex Series GT race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

- The pole position marks the second of the season for the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8, as team owner Sylvain Tremblay took top honors for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

- Ham is the fifth driver this season to capture a Rolex Series GT pole. Tremblay (Rolex 24 At Daytona), Kelly Collins (GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami), Pierre Kaffer (Mexico City 250) and Dominik Farnbacher (VIR) have also won pole positions.

- This is Mazda's second Rolex Series GT pole of the season, tying the Porsche brand with the most GT pole positions this season. Pontiac has also scored one pole in 2008.

- This is the third straight front row starting spot for Farnbacher Loles Racing and second this season for Pierre Kaffer. The German won the pole at Mexico City. The team is looking for its first win since April 2007 at VIR, and Porsche is looking for its first Rolex Series GT win since August 2007 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

- This is the best starting position of the season for Racers Edge Motorsports (fourth; Craig Stone).

POST QUALIFYING QUOTES

David Donohue (No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley): "When you win the race, everybody packs up and leaves. Winning the pole is real important for the team, because it gives them an extra day of glory. They get a great deal of pride and prestige in front of all of the other people in the paddock."

Jon Fogarty (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley): "It was very strange. That has never happened to us before. I went around the lefthander at the top of the Corkscrew and I was under acceleration coming out and something went wrong with the right rear. Because I was turning right, I really didn't notice. It was a really good lap, I was up on my previous and I tried too keep my foot in it and luckily I didn't hit anything. So we will put it back together and we will go through it and it was still a good effort. Not the pole, but it is good and we have got an hour in warm-up to make sure everything is put together in a proper manner and still work on the car for the race."

Nick Ham (No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): "We ran a fast lap in the afternoon practice, so I knew we had a shot at the pole. But I knew it would be close, because the Farnbacher and Banner cars had also been very fast. I laid down a fast lap that I thought might be good for the pole, but then Kaffer ran two-tenths faster. Fortunately, I was able to get another clean lap and win the pole.

"Even though the pole doesn't mean anything once the race starts, we've been in a small slump since winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Winning the pole is a great motivation for the team and all their hard work. Now, we need to win the race tomorrow for Castrol and Mazda at its home track."

Pierre Kaffer (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3): "We ran all morning on the same set of tires. Qualifying was my first proper run. On my first lap, I had some traffic. Then, on my second lap I tried to avoid traffic, and was able to do so until the last corner. Even though it might have cost me the pole, I was happy with that lap. The team gave me a good car. Without a fast car, it would have been impossible to drive like this. I really enjoy Laguna Seca. With the Corkscrew, every lap is a challenge. With all the sand and gravel, you never know what to expect."

-credit: garra

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series GRANDAM