Banner Pontiacs qualify 3rd and 4th for Lime Rock Grand-Am GT race Lakeville Connecticut (May 26, 2007): Kelly Collins and Leighton Reese qualified their Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.Rs in the 3rd and 4th positions during qualifying for...
Banner Pontiacs qualify 3rd and 4th for Lime Rock Grand-Am GT race
Lakeville Connecticut (May 26, 2007): Kelly Collins and Leighton Reese qualified their Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.Rs in the 3rd and 4th positions during qualifying for Monday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Grand-Am GT Classic here at Lime Rock Park.
"This was a good effort for the Banner Pontiac team today," said team owner Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka Minnesota, who qualified 4th. "We can't complain. The downside is we're 3rd and 4th the upside is we are only one tenth off the pole!"
Kelly Collins admitted that the track had more grip than expected and he came up agonizingly short of the pole but he demonstrated that qualifying was a definite positive for the Banner Racing Pontiacs as he posted consecutive lap times near 54 seconds flat on hot tires.
"On my qualifying lap I possibly could have gone a tick quicker but I didn't know what I had until I had gotten a few laps on the new tires," Collins said. "Traffic did become an issue once or twice but by then the tires were getting hot so we weren't going to improve our times anyway. We still got in the laps we needed to get in!"
"We are excited that we have earned god starting positions for the race and we where we need to be to compete," said Reese. "There is no room for errors on this track so your race strategy has to be similar to a mile or mile and a half oval track. Our engineers have plenty of brain power so we should be good for the race."
The top 4 qualifiers led by Wolf Henzler in the Tafel Porsche with a pole time of 53.925 were separated by only slightly more than one tenth of one second as Collins set his best time of 54.005 on his 2nd timed lap while Leighton Reese recorded a 54.059 on his 3rd pass over the 1.53 mile Lime Rock track.
After turning in matching 55 second laps on their first timed lap Kelly Collins ripped off a 54.005 which for a few minutes put the #07 Banner Pontiac GXP.R on the pole with Henzler 2nd with an initial lap of 54.023. Leighton Reese was 5th fastest after lap 2 with a 54.320 when Nick Ham lowered the mark to 53.929 in his Mazda RX8 on lap three.
Reese countered with his best lap on his 3rd pass over the hills and dales of the Lime Rock track recording his 54.059 which bumped him up to 4th to stay. On the 5th lap Henzler clocked his pole winning time of 53.925. Drew Staveley improved his time to a 54.306 on lap five slotting the #30 Racer's Edge Pontiac GXP.R solidly into the 5th position.
The was halted temporarily to retrieve a car stranded on course and at that Point Leighton Reese decided to call it a day and exited his #06 Banner Pontiac GXP.R as most of the rest of the GT field went back out on the track as the session continued but no one in the top ten improved their qualifying time. The top 9 cars are within 1 second of the pole.
"I wasn't going to improve my time so there wasn't any point in continuing," said Reese of his decision get out of his Banner Pontiac before the session ended. "There was a lot of traffic out there and you had to go off line to pass them and that would roast the tires."
The #07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R driven by Collins and Paul Edwards, of Fort Collins Colorado, and the #06 Banner Pontiac of Reese and Tim Lewis Jr., of Boca Raton Florida, will start the 400K Grand-Am GT Classic on Monday (Memorial Day) at approximately 1:52 PM Eastern Time.
The Lime Rock race will be broadcast on SPEED TV on a 1 hour tape delay at 3:00 PM Eastern Time or can be followed via live timing or via Internet web broadcast which is available on www.Grand-Am.com