With two to go, two points separate top two teams, but Doran-Lista and Theys are still on top.
LEBANON, Ohio, Sept. 6 - With only two races remaining in 2002, one of which is coming up next Sunday, Sept. 15 in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Doran-Lista Racing still leads the Sports Racing Prototype team standings in the Grand American Rolex Series, just as it's done all year.
The point standings are close, however. The Lebanon, Ohio-based team leads the Dyson #16 team by two points, 259 to 257, with 35 points up for grabs at Mont-Tremblant and again at the Daytona Finale in Florida Nov. 8-10.
In the Sports Racing Prototype driver standings, the champion will be either Doran-Lista's lead driver, Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz., or two of the Dyson team's drivers, Chris Dyson or James Weaver. Theys has 257 points to Dyson's 251 and Weaver's 214.
Two other Doran-Lista drivers, Mauro Baldi and Fredy Lienhard Jr., are right behind in those standings in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Fredy Lienhard Sr., who will join his son and Theys behind the wheel of the Doran-Lista Dallara Judd #27 at Mont-Tremblant, is currently 16th.
This race will mark the first time that this father and son duo has actually competed together, and both men are looking forward to this opportunity that few families ever experience. Ironically both teams that are in the hunt for the championship have fathers and sons on their driver rosters.
Mont-Tremblant is a new venue on the Grand Am Rolex Series schedule. The first time the Doran-Lista team will take to the 2.65-mile, 15-turn permanent road course will be this coming Thursday, a practice day at the track. Four shorter practice sessions will be held on Friday and Saturday morning before Theys goes for his sixth pole of the season on Saturday at 1:25 p.m. After a half-hour warm-up session Sunday morning at 9 a.m., the six-hour race is scheduled to get underway at 11 a.m.
SPEED Channel will show the half of the race its directors find most interesting on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. ET.
Although the Doran-Lista team has never competed at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, its team members are looking forward to the opportunity because they've heard the track is very nice.
"I heard it's a little like Mosport; a real driver's track," Theys said. "It's in a beautiful area. As a skier, I've heard about the area. It's a resort, and I'm sure it will be very nice."
Doran hasn't been there either, but he's also heard the track's good reviews.
"I hear it's an exciting and driver-challenging circuit," he said. "I'm looking forward to a new challenge on the schedule, and a traditional road course configuration."
A big crowd is expected. "Canadian fans are more into road racing than oval racing, so I expect a big turn-out of fans," Theys said. "It's not too far from Montreal and it's a very cosmopolitan area. We had a great time at Three Rivers over the last few years, and I'm sure this will be great too."
At six hours or 1,000 kilometers, whichever comes first, this will be one of the longer races on the Grand Am Rolex Series schedule.
Theys says the distance doesn't matter too much. "Our strength is our reliability, but our main competitor has that too," Theys noted. "We have the same level of preparation, more or less, so we're very evenly matched.
"We might have a little more speed with our equipment, though," Theys added, "at least we hope so!"
Doran says he enjoys the long races equally to the short ones, although for different reasons.
"The long ones allow the team's preparation and strategy to shine; the short ones allow the ultimate speed to shine," he noted. "Both cases have some satisfying segments."
Since the point battle is so close, many Grand Am fans believe that luck will play a role.
Theys doesn't hold to that philosophy.
"There is always a reason for everything; I don't believe too much in luck in racing," he said. "If the engine blows up, there's a reason. If we get involved in an accident, there's a reason. When you lose it's because something is missing," he contends.
"That's why I enjoy racing with the Doran-Lista team," he added. "With Kevin Doran and the other members of our team preparing the car, we have the best."
For more information, see www.lista.com, www.doranracing.com, www.grand-am.com and www.restartcommunications.com.