Montreal: Porsche Motorsport preview

GOALS FROM STRATEGIC PLACEMENT TO SALVATION GIVE PORSCHE TEAMS MOTIVATION FOR MONTREAL 200 GRAND-AM WEEKEND ATLANTA - August 27 - Goals for the Porsche teams entered in the Montreal 200 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal...

GOALS FROM STRATEGIC PLACEMENT TO SALVATION GIVE PORSCHE TEAMS MOTIVATION FOR MONTREAL 200 GRAND-AM WEEKEND

ATLANTA - August 27 - Goals for the Porsche teams entered in the Montreal 200 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race on Saturday, Aug 29 are varied, but simple:

For Dirk Werner (Germany) and Leh Keen (Charleston, SC), focus on the Acxiom GT championship more than the race. For Porsche factory pilots Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France), concentrate entirely on this race and forget all about the earlier disasters and disappointments. For Brumos Porsche Riley drivers Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ) and Darren Law (Malvern, PA), find their way back to winner's circle after falling short in '08 here by less than 300 yards. For Miller Barrett Racing, in only its second race ever, it's the bonding of crew and drivers to score a good finish in preparation for 2010. And for TRG, with the GT championship out of reach, it's a NASCAR driver in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Andy Lally.

The Montreal 200 gets the green flag at 2:15 pm ET Saturday, with live coverage on SPEED TV starting at 2 pm. ET. Live timing and scoring, notes and results will be available on www.grand-am.com, with regular updates also posted on www.twitter.com/RolexSeries.

The 10th race of the Grand-Am season will be contested on a 2.708-mile, 15-turn circuit on the Ile Notre-Dame on an island in the river in downtown Montreal, Canada. A full day of practice and qualifying is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday Aug. 28.

Werner and Keen have enjoyed the best season of any Porsche team, winning four times in their #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry. With just three races remaining in the season and a maximum of 35 points available at each event, they bring a 31-point GT points lead to Montreal.

"We will race hard, but carefully," says Keen. "The championship is at stake. It's almost in our grasp, but you never assume anything in racing. Too many evil things can happen to you if you're not careful."

Porsche leads the Acxiom GT Manufacturer championship stands, and the #87 Farnbacher Loles is the top-rated GT team as well.

In Daytona Prototype competition, Porsche only has one victory, by the #58 Brumos Porsche team led by Law and Donohue in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. However, the German manufacturer has only two podium finishes since, both by the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley driven by Bernhard and Dumas.

"The Grand-Am series this year is a very strong series with good competition," Bernhard says. "We had a couple of opportunities to win races such as the first race of the season, the 24 Hours We were leading until the 18th hour when an axle broke It was a pretty good performance from us, and then we leading at New Jersey and had a slow puncture in the rain and we had to pit. Good racing, good performances but in the end we did not get the victory.

"But anyway we keep on fighting."

Although they have won a pair of American Le Mans Series LMP2 championships and 23 races together, Bernhard and Dumas are classified as Grand-Am rookies. They lead the MESCO Building for the Future rookie standings with 216 points, 44 ahead of John Potter (Salt Lake City, UT), one of the TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup team drivers.

"Montreal is another track new to us," Bernhard says. "I happened to be there one time five or six years ago when I was traveling with my co-pilot at the time, Jorg Bergmeister, and we were able to do a few corners in our rental car. So I know the track mostly by the map and TV. It is another new challenge but as a professional race car driver, we have to learn quickly. Because it is only a two-day event, we will have to learn even more quickly, but we are up for the challenge."

Throughout the 2008 season, Brumos flirted with victory time after time, arriving in Montreal with their #58 car enjoying a string of top five finishes and podiums. It seemed as if that elusive victory was finally at hand, as Darren Law held the lead going into the final lap of the race. As a Brumos victory was announced on live TV signaling the end of a frustrating five year winless streak, the unthinkable happened. Just yards from taking the checkered flag for the win, the #58 car slowed as fuel ran out, allowing two other cars to cross the finish line ahead of Law The stunned Brumos team watched in disbelief as their hard-won victory was reduced to a third place finish. Joao Barbosa crossed the line just behind his teammate, taking 4th place for the #59 Brumos entry. Although a podium finish would normally be cause for celebration, seeing a victory slip away just yards from the finish line was instead what Law termed "the most disappointing podium I've ever had".

Although Brumos returns to Montreal this season following a streak of setbacks rather than podiums, the team is no less confident of their chances.

As Joao Barbosa said, "Brumos doesn't quit and that's one reason I love being a part of this team. We keep fighting to come back, no matter what problems we face. Our main goals for this season were to see J.C. become the first a two-time Trueman Award winner, and to get on the podium after all of our 4th place finishes last year. J.C. is still leading in Trueman points, and we made it to the podium at Daytona. We still have three races to go, and I am really looking forward to the chance to add some more points for J.C. and more podiums for Brumos."

Darren Law, who co-drives with David Donohue, also expressed enthusiasm for a rematch, saying, "I'm ready to get back to Montreal - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a great track, and the lack of elevation changes will help even out the playing field for us against the V-8's. After last year, we have certainly been cautious about fuel strategy to insure we don't get in that situation again, but I can't say we will approach this race any differently, otherwise. The main change I see for us is that it has increased our level of determination. Last year we were anxious to score that first win, so after leading for so long and then losing in the final seconds like that - it just makes us more determined now than ever. Last year we had the winning car. We had the race won. Now - we want our win back."

In 2008, Eric Lux of Jacksonville, FL qualified the #86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 Cup in pole position and along with Keen and Werner, was in the top two finishing Porsches. This year, Lux is once again partnered with Bryan Sellers of Centerville, OH in the #86. Earlier this season, Lux and Sellers went on to score a third place finish at the rain soaked event at the New Jersey Motorsports Park and are hoping to repeat their podium performance In Montreal.

Miller Barrett Racing will add some Canadian power for the Montreal race as Dave Lacey of Toronto will join Bryce Miller of Summit, N.J., behind the wheel of the No. 48 Marquis Jet / IPC / Total Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.

Both drivers are experienced Porsche specialists who have enjoyed success in the Rolex Series. Miller finished third in the 2007 GT class championship with 10 podium finishes, including second place in the Montreal race. He added a class podium in the Rolex 24 At Daytona last year. Lacey has been winning in Grand-Am competition since 2000, and his resume includes two Rolex 24 class podiums.

The Montreal race will be only the second outing for Miller Barrett Racing, but the crew is already in sync. Although the team members hadn't worked together before - and some had no race experience - the small crew gelled quickly and gave the drivers a class-leading car in their first race, at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 7.

For series regular Andy Lally and the TRG Porsche team, the exciting development for Montreal is the addition of NASCAR Nationwide Series competitor Brendan Gaughan to the cockpit. Gaughan, a Las Vegas resident, will be running a Porsche for the first time in addition to his NASCAR ride this weekend. John Potter and Craig Stanton will pilot the other TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer.

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Lally , Darren Law , David Donohue , Jörg Bergmeister , Gilles Villeneuve , Timo Bernhard , Joao Barbosa , Brendan Gaughan , Dave Lacey , Craig Stanton , Romain Dumas , Bryan Sellers , Lehman Keen , Eric Lux , Dirk Werner , John Potter , Bryce Miller