Mexico City: Friday practice report

Gurney Sets Fastest Time Thursday in Rolex Series Practice at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Rolex Series GT point co-leader Pumpelly fastest after first two sessions of practice MEXICO CITY (April 17, 2008) -- Alex Gurney set the fastest lap ...

Gurney Sets Fastest Time Thursday in Rolex Series Practice at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Rolex Series GT point co-leader Pumpelly fastest after first two sessions of practice

MEXICO CITY (April 17, 2008) -- Alex Gurney set the fastest lap deep into the second of two Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 practice sessions Thursday, driving the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley on the 2.5-mile, 14-turn Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. The practice session precedes Friday's qualifying and Saturday's Mexico City 250 (SPEED, 4 p.m. ET, Live), round three on the Rolex Series schedule.

The defending Rolex Series race winner Gurney -- who claimed his first Rolex Series victory last year with co-driver Jon Fogarty -- logged a time of 1:20.536 (111.751 mph) with only three minutes remaining in practice, positioning him and Fogarty to be one of the favorites to take Friday's pole. Last season, Gurney -- who has been suffering the effects of a cold for over a week -- and Fogarty rode a wave of seven victories to a two-point advantage in the Daytona Prototype championship standings.

Ryan Dalziel and Burt Frisselle were also quick in the session, which saw six drivers unofficially best last year's record qualifying time of 1:21.221 (110.809 mph). Dalziel, whose No. 2 SAMAX team recently switched to BMW engines, notched a time of 1:20.880, also near the end of the session. Frisselle, meanwhile, was third fastest in the No. 47 Doran Racing BSI/CDOC Ford Dallara. Prior to Thursday, the No. 47 had never been on a race track at speed. Frisselle's time was 1:20.984 (111.133 mph).

Rounding out the top five were Oswaldo Negri in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley and Marc Goossens in the No. 91 Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley.

In Rolex Series GT action, point co-leader Spencer Pumpelly was quickest with a time of 1:27.835 (102.465 mph), which was also under last year's Rolex Series GT record qualifying time. Pumpelly battled with Kelly Collins and Lawson Aschenbach for the top honors throughout the session before ultimately taking the top spot after 19 laps.

Collins, the 2006 race co-winner, was second with a time of 1:27.951 (102.330 mph) in the No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R and Aschenbach -- in his first Rolex Series trip to the track -- was third at 1:28.047 (102.218 mph) in the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R.

Diego Alessi was fourth quickest in the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R and Robin Liddell rounded out the top five in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Stevenson Automotive/BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R.

Ten GT cars bested last year's qualifying time during the second session.

NEWS & NOTES

- All 32 cars entered for this weekend took times in at least one of the two sessions.

- Practice was interrupted only once during the practice sessions. Kevin O'Connell in the No. 27 Porsche GT3 and Jan Heylen in the No. 80 Porsche GT3 were involved in an incident in Turn 4, bringing out a 10-minute stoppage in the second session.

- Four of the top-five cars in Rolex Series GT competition were Pontiacs (three Pontiac GXP.Rs and one GTO.R). In Daytona Prototypes, Pontiacs were first and fifth, with BMW second and Fords third and fourth.

- In Daytona Prototypes, 16 of the 18 cars set fastest times in the second session. The No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold Ford Riley, which set the fastest time overall (Brian Frisselle; 1:21.702, 110.156 mph) in the first session, did not improve in the second session. The No. 61 was 10th between the two sessions.

- Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty are sporting a No. 99 Pontiac Riley with a new paint scheme, which includes the colors of the Mexican flag -- red, white and green.

POST PRACTICE QUOTES

Alex Gurney (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley) - "I knew we would be up there. We're all excited about it. We made probably six or seven good changes and kept improving it and at the end there it was the best it had been. We are pretty happy but we know the other guys are not going to slack off so I am sure it will be very close at the top, but so far so good. We are really excited.

"I would imagine you will see some (1 minute) 19s before the end of the weekend. The track will clean up some more and obviously the tires are giving us that little bit more grip, so it will keep coming around.

"My cold didn't bother me in the car. Maybe if I am in the car for two hours in the race, but right now it was fine. The car is in good shape."

Ryan Dalziel (No. 2 SAMAX BMW Riley) -- "I think we're going to have a strong showing. I think we're definitely strong enough to be on the podium."

Burt Frisselle (No. 47 Doran Racing BSI/CDOC Ford Dallara) -- "It's exciting for this team to be able to take a brand new car to the racetrack and put it in the top five. It doesn't get any better than that. My brother set the fastest lap earlier today and we were in the top three, so hopefully we will have a great battle on Saturday with a couple of Frisselle brothers fighting for a podium."

Memo Gidley (No. 77 Doran Racing Kodak Ford Dallara) -- "We made some adjustments between the sessions and I think the car got a little bit better, and we've been. You know, we're trying not to just throw new rubber on and get a time out of it, so I think that'll help us for race distance and that's kind of where we were struggling at Homestead. We're trying to make a better race car."

Paul Edwards (No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R) -- "At the beginning it was kind of dusty. We had to try and forget about that and not lose ourselves with setup changes from a dirty track. Some people went straight in (to the pits) and started tweaking things; you saw them go a bit backwards and then they got back to where they started. It was actually pretty clean for us. It's a nice track to be out there with the Daytona Prototypes. It wasn't too chaotic out there. We just have to keep doing what we're doing and I think we'll be all right."

Dirk Werner (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3) -- "It was difficult for us when we came here in the first practice; the track was so dirty you couldn't really judge how the car was acting. But I think we made a good improvement for our second practice now and the car felt pretty good. I think we still have some good ideas to improve the car more and I'm pretty satisfied right now, how it worked out now for us, and I'm pretty optimistic."

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Ryan Dalziel , Paul Edwards , Memo Gidley , Jon Fogarty , Marc Goossens , Robin Liddell , Lawson Aschenbach , Burt Frisselle , Spencer Pumpelly , Alessi Diego , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Matt Connolly , Jan Heylen , Brian Frisselle , Bob Stallings , Dirk Werner
Teams Stevenson Motorsports , Doran Racing