Friday's Practice Sessions Prove Costly to Teams LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 8, 2001) -- The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series teams took to the track today in two practice sessions for Sunday's ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic. Both...
Friday's Practice Sessions Prove Costly to Teams
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 8, 2001) -- The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series teams took to the track today in two practice sessions for Sunday's ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic. Both practice sessions proved detrimental for several of the teams who suffered a wide array of problems ranging from engine failure to collision.
Robinson Racing hoped it would be able to debut its new 74-Ranch-sponsored #74 Ford Riley & Scott Mark III-C at this weekend's ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic, but a shadow of doubt has now been cast upon the team. Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., was behind the wheel of the new Riley & Scott when it went off course into the gravel at the start of this morning's practice. The team reported throttle problems after it took the new car back to the garage - a problem that has plagued the team since it first put the new car on the track at Watkins Glen last month.
For the afternoon practice the Robinson team put both its new and old Riley & Scott cars on the track giving team owner George Robinson, of Houston, some track time in the older car, while Baldwin tried to work out the kinks of the newer one. The two cars posted similar times, with Robinson clocking a 1:23.460 in the old car, while Baldwin had a 1:23.890 in the new one. The team has yet to decide which of the cars it will race in this weekend.
Flis Motorsports Team X-1R blew its second engine of the day in the afternoon practice session. The X-1R Performance Lubricants/Goodyear-sponsored #09 Corvette lost an engine this morning, but it was not entirely a surprise to team owner Todd Flis, of Daytona Beach, Fla. "The engine had some quirks to it yesterday during testing," said Flis. "And we contemplated going ahead and putting the back-up engine in it last night, but decided not to. I guess the decision bit us this morning."
However, Flis was surprised this afternoon when the car blew its second engine of the day. Luckily the team has a third engine on hand for the Corvette. "This is the last one we have on the rig, so if it goes, we are in trouble."
Two more cars had trouble during the afternoon practice when they got into each other on the back of the track. The Racer Parts Wholesale-sponsored #95 Chevrolet Riley & Scott of TRV Motorsports saw its weekend end early Friday afternoon when it collided with the TDM/Team Avia/Yokohama-sponsored #57 Porsche GT3R of Seikel Motorsport during a practice session.
"I came out of turn 11 and there was a Porsche sitting across the track," explained TRV's Tom Volk, of nearby Toledo, Ohio. "There wasn't enough room to go behind him because of the wall, so I turned to go around him and he just kept rolling. I got the front end by him but he kept coming and tagged me."
The TRV Chevy sustained major rear end and body damage and Volk said they did not have the parts needed to continue.
Things were more upbeat in the Seikel garage. The Porsche had its front nose bent up, but, according to the crew, the suspension and other mechanicals were fine. "We're taking it a local body shop to get the front straightened out. We'll be back on the track tomorrow morning," a spokesman noted.
Despite the trouble endured by several of the Rolex Series teams, Englishman James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, of State College, Pa., clocked the fastest times at both sessions in the Dyson Racing Team's Norcold/Thetford/Goodyear-sponsored #16 Ford-powered Riley & Scott. Weaver spun a 1:18.019 lap time in the morning session, while Leitzinger recorded a 1:18.561 time in the afternoon. Local-favorite Jon Field, of Dublin, Ohio, clocked the second-fastest time in both sessions, with his best coming in the afternoon with a 1:18.864 lap in his Banana Joe's #37 Judd Lola.
The SportsRacing Prototype II class was led by Paul Macey, of Oakville, Ont., and Andy Lally, of Northpoint, N.Y., in the Gemstar Communications/Tycoon Magazine-sponsored #21 Archangel Motorsport Services Nissan Lola, while Chris Bingham, of Kirkland, Wash., and Ron Johnson, of Laguna Beach, Calif., were quickest in the GTS class in the BASF/HCI/Yokohama/Park Place Ltd.-sponsored #5 Saleen S7R of Fordahl Motorsports/Saleen/Park Place Racing.
A Ford Mustang led the American GT class during both practice sessions, as Tim Cowen, of nearby Ashland, Ohio, and Tony Ave, of Indianapolis, Ind., recorded a 1:26.405 lap time during the afternoon session in the #71 Cowen Racing Mustang.
The #15 Porsche GT3 RS of Fordahl Motorsports/Crazy Redhead Racing clocked the fastest GT time of the day with a 1:27.672 lap in the morning session. The only female driver and car owner in the Rolex Series, Kim Hiskey of Monroe, Wash., shared driving duties with Randy Pobst, of Melbourne, Fla, in the Porsche today.
The racing excitement will continue on Saturday at the ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic with the Rolex Series taking to the track at 9:45 a.m. for its final practice before qualifying, which begins at 1:15 p.m. The green flag will fall on the ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic on Sunday at 2:15 p.m.
More information on the Rolex Sports Car Series and the ConAgra Foods U.S. Road Racing Classic is available online at www.grand-am.com.