Mid-Ohio: Porsche race report

FROM LAST TO FIRST, FARNBACHER LOLES PORSCHE CAPTURES GT CLASS WIN AT MID- OHIO; PORSCHE POWERED DAYTONA PROTOTYPES ALL FINISH IN TOP TEN ATLANTA -June 20 - The ...

FROM LAST TO FIRST, FARNBACHER LOLES PORSCHE CAPTURES GT CLASS WIN AT MID- OHIO; PORSCHE POWERED DAYTONA PROTOTYPES ALL FINISH IN TOP TEN

ATLANTA -June 20 - The #87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry came from last-to-first place Saturday to capture the Acxiom GT class victory in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The victory was the second straight for Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) and Dirk Werner (Germany) and boosted their stranglehold on both the drivers and team championship points lead as the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask N0. 16 passed the halfway point of the season.

The three Porsche-powered Daytona Prototypes missed the podium but all three finished in the top 10 on the lead lap, with the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley of Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) placing fourth.

"From last to first is pretty cool," said Keen. "That was our goal - winning the race after starting last - but we would have been happy with a podium finish protecting our points lead. I have to thank my crew for giving me an awesome car. This was a great win for us."

Keen had broken the Mid-Ohio track GT qualifying record Friday, bit his time was disallowed after the car failed technical inspection - the ride height was too low, the result of a damaged rivet on the under-tray.

Keen started the race dead last, 16th among the GT entries. He carefully carved his way through traffic, mindful of the faster Daytona Prototypes approaching rapidly from the rear. He even overcame a stop-and-go penalty for an improper pit exit (crossing the yellow line marking the track too early). Keen was up to 5th in class by lap 13 and took the GT lead on lap 38.

"It was very easy for me to bring it home," said Werner, who led the final 43 laps. "Leh did a great job bringing the car to the front. All I had to do was take care of traffic. It was a perfect day for me. I don't know what to do to thank the guys (the Farnbacher Loles crew) except to do it (win) again the next race."

It was the third win for the Werner/Keen Porsche, with the TRG win at Daytona giving Porsche four of the six GT victories. Pontiac and Mazda have won the other two events. For Porsche, it was the 60th Rolex Grand-Am GT victory, and 248th Grand-Am podium finish.

Farnbacher Loles stable mate Eric Lux (Williamsville, KY) started on the pole in his #86 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup following Keen's disqualification and teammate Dominick Farnbacher (Germany) was running a strong second to Werner late in the race when he was hit by a Daytona Prototype. He hit the curb and cut down two tires and wound up 7th among the GT finishers.

But Lux and Farnbacher still had a better day than Spencer Pumpelly (Suwanee, GA) and Duncan Ende (Los Angeles, CA) did in the #66 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. A broken axle dropped them 14 laps down and they finished 14th in GT.

That helped Leh and Werner to boost their Acxiom GT driver's lead to 16 points over the new second-place team, #07 Pontiac drivers Kelly Collins (Newport Beach, CA) and Paul Edwards (Ft. Collins, CO), who finished third Saturday. Heading into the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway July 4, Leh/Werner lead Collins/Edwards 186-170.

It was a more encouraging day for the Porsche DPs, despite failure to gain the podium. The two Brumos Porsche entries were more competitive than in recent races, and Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ) led laps 27-39 in the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley he shared with David Donohue (Malvern, PA). They finished 10th after running as high as fifth, and only a collision with their sister car dropped them back.

"We still don't have the power of the V-8s, but the handling is getting better and that is encouraging," Law said. "Good strategy put us in position to run at the front, and it was very nice to lead (laps 27-39). Then at the end we got into some fierce traffic and David (Donohue) got bumped, so we finished worst than we should have."

The #59 Brumos Porsche Riley of JC France (Ormond Beach, FL) and Joao Barbosa (Portugal) finished fifth, just 15 seconds behind the winning #01 Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett (Auburn, CA) and Memo Rojas (Mexico).

"It was like a 15-lap sprint race the entire race," Barbosa said. "Everybody was pushing as hard as they could. It was crazy out there at times, just crazy. It was very, very tight." The Penske team missed the DP podium by less than two seconds, but both Porsche works drivers continued their plea for more speed following Grand-Am rules changes that limit the Porsche's RPM limit.

"On one side I would have to say we had a good car and good race," Dumas said. "We played good strategy, and that is a good feeling. We are still developing the car and the Penske crew gave us the best possible car today. We just can not pass on the straights. We lack that little extra we need to pass on the straights. But it was a good result for Porsche under the current rules, so we are happier, but would have been happier on the podium one place away."

"A pretty good result for the Penske Porsche," Bernard said. "But it was discouraging to see them pull away from us little by little because we down on the power and we can do not a thing about it. We put on a good show for the spectators, and that is important but not our top concern. We should win."

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Scott Pruett , Kelly Collins , Darren Law , David Donohue , JC France , Timo Bernhard , Joao Barbosa , Memo Rojas , Spencer Pumpelly , Romain Dumas , Lehman Keen , Eric Lux , Dirk Werner , Duncan Ende
Teams Williams