Mid-Ohio: Porsche Motorsport qualifying report

ROLEX GT POINTS LEADER KEEN SETS RECORD IN FARNBACHER LOLES PORSCHE, THEN DISQUALIFIED AT MID-OHIO; DUMAS TOP PORSCHE DR QUALIFIER IN PORSCHE RILEY LEXINGTON, Ohio - June 19 - Not even a disqualification nor ominous skies that threatened heavy...

ROLEX GT POINTS LEADER KEEN SETS RECORD IN FARNBACHER LOLES PORSCHE, THEN DISQUALIFIED AT MID-OHIO; DUMAS TOP PORSCHE DR QUALIFIER IN PORSCHE RILEY

LEXINGTON, Ohio - June 19 - Not even a disqualification nor ominous skies that threatened heavy rain and dangerously high winds, could damper Porsche pilot Len Keen's (Charleston, SC) enthusiasm Friday during qualifying for the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio.

Keen, the Acxiom GT class points co-leader, apparently grabbed the GT pole position in record time and gave temporarily gave Porsche Motorsports customer team Farnbacher Loles Racing a second straight 1-2 starting order. But the car was later disqualified for failing to clear the minimum ride height requirement.

Leh drove the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry he will share with Dirk Werner (Germany) to a record lap of 1:25.257 at 96.672 mph around the 3.358-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio road course. But instead of leading, he will be at the end of the 16-car GT pack in Saturday's 2 hour, 45-minute Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 event that marks the start of the second half of the 2009 season.

Meanwhile, the highest qualifying Porsche-powered Daytona prototype was again the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley of Porsche works drivers Romain Dumas (France) and Timo Bernhard (Germany). Dumas qualified sixth in a very quick field at 1:19.076 101.797 mph. The overall pole went to the #99 Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty at 1:16.049 104.137 mph.

The race will be broadcast live on Speed from 5-8 p.m. ET Saturday. Live timing and scoring, notes and results will be available on www.grand-am.com, with regular weekend updates also posted on www.twitter.com/RolexSeries.

"It was a damaged rivet about two inches in diameter that scraped the minimum height measurement tool," Keen said. "We didn't clear the minimum clearance, so we go the rear." And Keen loses his track record and pole.

"Obviously, this changes our strategy," Keen said, "but at the end of the race, it probably won't matter. We will have to be careful coming through the pack, but we have so much momentum that we still think we can win."

Eric Lux (Jacksonville, FL) qualified the #86 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry he'll share with Dominick Farnbacher (Germany), as replacement for Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) takes a weekend off to attend a friend's wedding. Lux' best lap was 1:25.892 94.640 mph, and he takes over the pole spot.

Werner and Keen lead the Acxiom GT drivers championship standings by eight points over fellow Porsche driver Spencer Pumpelly, but Pumpelly's new teammate, Duncan Ende (Los Angeles, CA) could only manage a 10th best GT qualifying lap of 1:28.281 92.079 in the #66 TRG Porsche 911 GT3. The car had to be repaired following Pumpelly's morning practice crash.

Based on best results from the two Porsche customer teams - Farnbacher Loles and TRG - Porsche leads the GT Manufacturer's standings with three victories in the first five races and 153 points, 10 ahead of Pontiac (1 victory) and 14 points ahead of Mazda (1 victory).

An impressive performance during the Sahlen's Six Hours at Watkins Glen propelled Dirk Werner (Germany) and Leh Keen to the top of the Acxiom GT standings with 151 points and an eight-point lead over former leader Pumpelly.

Werner broke the track qualifying record in earning his first GT pole at Watkins Glen, and then led 73 laps in the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Keen led for 30 laps as the team claimed its second GT victory of the season. The victory also moved the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche into the Team Championship standings with 151 points, also eight points ahead of Pumpelly's #66 TRG Porsche 911 GT3. Pumpelly was fifth at Watkins Glen.

"Obviously right now, our goal is to defend the championship lead," Werner says. "Now we need to be extra careful and get as many points as we can at Mid-Ohio."

Keen is the defending GT champion at Mid-Ohio, posting his only victory of 2008 when he finished eighth in the Driver's championship. He has four career Acxiom GT victories, three in bad weather conditions.

The Porsche DPs will have an uphill battle to gain another podium finish Saturday. Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ) qualified the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley he'll share with David Donohue (Malvern, PA) 10th at 1:20.301 101.229 mph, and JC France (Ormond Beach, FL) qualified the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley 14th at 1"21/625 99.587 mph. Joao Barbosa (Portugal) will again team with France.

"Not great," said Law, "but there's more in our setup and we'll be faster in the race tomorrow. We improved the rear end today and I could feel the car a little better. The weather is a concern. It's so humid, that after 15 minutes (qualifying session), I'm dripping wet. This could become a race of strategy. If a team decides to change drivers a second time, which takes about 18 seconds, can they make up with time (in the pits) with faster lap times from a fresh driver? We'll see tomorrow."

Dumas and Bernhard had been encouraged with a podium finish at Watkins Glen, but Dumas says the Penske team must find a way to overcome the RPM limits imposed by Grand-Am rules. "If we were just a bit faster, we could be first," Dumas said. "We have to make up our performance limitations in the pits, or timely pit stops."

"This has been a long month with two 24-hour races and now a second Rolex Series races," Bernhard said. "We didn't get a trophy at Le Mans, so we really want one here."

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jon Fogarty , David Donohue , JC France , Timo Bernhard , Joao Barbosa , Spencer Pumpelly , Romain Dumas , Wolf Henzler , Lehman Keen , Eric Lux , Duncan Ende