Tim George Jr. Leads Five TRG Porsches in Qualifying at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. - The five-car armada that is TRG at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is ready to set sail in Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 RumBum.com 250.
Tim George Jr. led the way for TRG in the No. 67 Monster Cable/944 Magazine/WIN Institute/Gleukos Porsche GT3 by turning in the 14th-quickest qualifying time at 1:29.551 (89.969 mph). It was the second time in five races that George has led the team and he will share the ride in Saturday's race with Spencer Pumpelly.
"It's the second time this season I'm leading the team in qualifying," George said. "I feel pretty good about that. I did three laps that were within about a tenth (of a second) of each other, so I feel pretty good about race pace. I ran some high tire pressures, so I had to get it in within the first lap. I wasn't quite happy with my first pushing lap, but I ran good enough to be in the top 15, and that's where we need to start. The goal is top 10, but top 15 is okay. It's good enough."
Starting one position behind George will be teammate Ted Ballou in the No. 66 Marquis Jet/Mitchell Rubber/Resorts International/IPC/Total Lubricants Porsche GT3. Ballou posted the 15th-quickest time in the GT class with a lap at 1:29.892 (89.628 mph). He is sharing the No. 66 machine with Bryce Miller.
"Qualifying was good," Ballou said. "The car was good. We felt pretty strong out there. We could have used a bit more practice. We had a bunch of yellows in the practice this morning and this afternoon, but overall, it was a good qualifying for the TRG team."
The No. 66 and No. 67 machines are TRG's two full-time entries in the Rolex Series, but the team is fielding three additional Porsches in the RumBum.com 250, and those three cars qualified nose-to-tail in positions 19 through 21,
Starting 19th will be Jim Lowe in the No. 64 SRS/Globus/Adopt A Pig Porsche GT3 following a best qualifying lap at 1:32.130 (87.450 mph) for TRG/J Lowe Racing. Lowe's co-driver is 1996 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner Jim Pace, and the duo is making its third Rolex Series appearance of the season this weekend.
"Qualifying was pretty slippery and pretty hot," Lowe said. "The track is very greasy and I think everybody is struggling with grip, but the car is set up. Jim Pace set the car up and the TRG guys had it going a little bit better than it was in the first practice sessions, of which they were all interrupted by black flags anyway. I ran some consistent times and took a little bit off my practice times, so I put myself about where I thought I would if we got it right, so I'm pretty happy with that."
In the 20th position on the GT grid will be TRG stalwart RJ Valentine in the No. 68 CRG/Maxter/Rotax/MBA Group/F1 Air Porsche GT3. Valentine posted a best qualifying lap at 1:32.453 (87.145 mph). He will co-drive the No. 68 machine with Bryan Sellers.
"I think it went very well and I probably surprised myself a little bit," said Valentine. "I have a great team, a great teammate and a good team manager. We're here in the west. We're here for a couple of days. We're going to do our best and we're going to go forward with renewed vigor."
Making his second appearance of the season with TRG, but his first race since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona will be Canadian Hima Maher, who will start 21st in the RumBum.com 250. Maher clocked a best lap at 1:33.225 (86.423 mph) in the No. 65 Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing/Total R/ Riegel Tuning Porsche GT3 for TRG/Riegel Autosport. Maher is sharing the car with 2005 Rolex Series GT champion Craig Stanton, who is making his TRG debut this weekend.
"It's our first qualifying session and the first session for the car," Maher said. "It's been completely gone through since Daytona. It's a new team. Every session we went quicker and at the end, we did consistent times and were quicker again in qualifying, so we're happy with all of that. Craig is everything and more, so our whole team came together. This day could have been a lot worse."
Outside of the Rolex 24, where TRG fielded seven cars this year, this weekend's five-car entry is the team's largest undertaking to date. The team heads into Saturday's race looking for a repeat performance of a 1-2 result last year.
"The guys all did a good job," said team owner Kevin Buckler. "The guys all improved their personal-best times in qualifying, which is pretty good. I'm really proud of everybody. All five cars are in the show, mechanically fit and sound, and we're ready to go. We've got a big group here. We've got more than 60 people here and five cars, and we're thinking long-term. We're thinking race results."