PORSCHE SWEEPS ROLEX GRAND-AM GT PODIUM IN NEW JERSEY; PORSCHE VS PORSCHE FOR FINAL PODIUM SPOT IN DAYTONA PROTOTYPE LEAVES EVERYBODY SMILING
MILLVILLE, NJ - May 3 -- Whether they were tears of joy or extra large rain drops dripping down their cheeks, nearly every Porsche driver was smiling after the Verizon Wireless 200 Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race on a dismal and dreary day in New Jersey Sunday.
Porsches swept the podium in GT - indeed, Porsches 911 GT3 Cup cars finished one through four - with victory going to the #87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche of Dirk Werner (Germany) and Leh Keen (Charleston, SC). They led 38 of the GT race's 86 laps, including the final 22 with Werner at the wheel. They finished eighth overall in the 31-car field.
Rain fell throughout the race and Grand-Am officials even ran 12 laps under caution because track conditions were so treacherous - unusual for normally all-weather sports car racing.
"The conditions were really difficult," Werner said. "When I was behind Spencer (Pumpelly), it took me 15 minutes to see where I could pass him. Once I got around him, I could pull away and get a pretty comfortable margin. In these conditions, it is the driver's responsibility to keep the car on the track. Leh did a great job and I look forward to racing with him again."
The #86 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Pumpelly (Mason Neck, VA) and Ted Ballou (Corona del Mar, CA) finished second in GT, one lap down. With their second place at Daytona and sixth last week in Virginia, the TRG duo now lead the GT points after three events. Third in GT went to the #86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Eric Lux (Jacksonville, FL) and Bryan Sellers (Dayton, OH).
Fourth, and just missing the GT podium, was the #67 TRG Porsche GT3 of Justin Marks (Chico, CA) and Andy Lally (Newport, NY).
"When it rains, it goes really well for the Farnbacher Loles Racing team," Keen said. "From the first green lap, we knew we had a good car and could win the race."
Overall victory in the two hour, 45-minute race went to the Krohn Racing Ford Lola of Nic Jonsson (Sweden) and Ricardo Zonta (Brazil), who led 52 of the 87 laps.
A spirited battle for third place overall in the final minutes grabbed all the attention from a good-sized, but very soaking wet, crowd. Passing his Porsche counterpart just four minutes from the finish, Tim Bernhard (Germany) gave Penske Racing its first Grand-Am DP podium finish after a sixth at Daytona and seventh at Virginia International Raceway.
Saturday, Romain Dumas have given Penske Racing its first Grand-Am pole in the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley he shares with Dumas.
Dumas pitted from second place in the #12 Penske Porsche Riley on lap 33. The crew added 12 seconds of fuel and driver change to Bernhard. They did not change their Pirelli full wet tires.
"So now Timo goes for it as we are one pit stop ahead of everybody," Dumas said. "My stop early was to meet the rules and it gave us an edge. It is really wet out there, it was difficult to pass the GT cars. They were battling each other and do not see me coming. For sure it was a mixed feeling. The weather was awful and the race was wonderful."
"After Romain gave me the car we were in the perfect position - in first behind the safety car," Bernhard said. "Then I got into the lead and was running as hard as I could (he set consecutive fastest race laps on last 46 & 47 before having to pit). We were losing pressure in the left rear tire, so we had to pit and lost position and time.
"It was very hard to see. At time there was so much water on the track I thought it best to stop the race. Then I spun out in turn 4 and gave back all the time I had gained. I had a good battle with David Donohue that last few laps and I was able to overtake him four minutes from the finish," said Bernhard.
But while Donohue (Malvern, PA) and Darren Law (Phoeniz, AZ) missed the podium, they extended their DP Championship Driver's points lead because their top competitors finished behind them.
"Considering where we started this week, this is a very satisfying finish," Law said. "We were so lost on the setup that Saturday night we had a yard sale and changed everything. To come out and run this well is wonderful and a tribute to the Brumos crew.
"The best thing is that we finished ahead of the 01 and 99 cars, so that helps us in the points."
The #59 Brumos Porsche Riley was pushed back into garage under yellow due to a clutch problem. Additionally, since the beginning of the race the windshield washer had not been working properly all the time.
"The conditions were terrible," said Joao Barbosa (Portugal). "I could not see very well, and then the clutch went all the way to the floor. The crew is working, but I don't know if we'll get back out there." The car was retired with clutch problems
-credit: porsche motorsport