Montreal: Porsche qualifying report

GT POINTS LEADERS KEEN, WERNER ON POLE IN MONTREAL; PENSKE, BRUMOS PORSCHES SHARE SECOND ROW IN DP QUALIFYING MONTREAL - August 28 --Under cool but cloudy skies Friday, Acxiom GT points leader Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) qualified the ...

GT POINTS LEADERS KEEN, WERNER ON POLE IN MONTREAL; PENSKE, BRUMOS PORSCHES SHARE SECOND ROW IN DP QUALIFYING

MONTREAL - August 28 --Under cool but cloudy skies Friday, Acxiom GT points leader Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) qualified the #87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car he will share with Dirk Werner (Germany) on the pole for Saturday's two-hour Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race.

It was an even more encouraging day for the Porsche-powered Daytona Prototypes, who have struggled in recent races. Porsche works driver Romain Dumas (France) qualified the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley third and David Donohue (Malvern, PA), qualified the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley fourth.

There's a good chance predicted rain from tropical story Danny will play a role in determining the finish of the Montreal 200. Forecasts say there is a 30 percent chance of rain when the Montreal 200 gets the green flag at 2:15 pm ET Saturday and a 70% chance of rain when the checkered flag falls at 4:45 pm ET. Live coverage on SPEED TV starts 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.

Keen shattered the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve GT track record with a lap of 1.39.339, almost three seconds under former TRG Porsche driver Eric Lux' record of 1:42.362 around the 2.709-mile, 15-turn road course on Isle Notre Dame in Montreal.

"We really concentrated on the pole today," Keen said. "With rain predicted, up front is the best place to start. If it is dry, it will be better for the crew and the spectators. In our situation with the championship, we'd prefer a dry race. That would eliminate some of the things that could happen behind us. I'll tell you after the race if I wanted it to rain or not."

"We are trying to stay focused on the championship. If it goes good, we'll keep it on the payment and win the race but the most important thing is to finish ahead of the 07 car (second place points team Pontiac). The car is really nice to drive in the rain, so we like (racing in the) rain so whatever the weather is, we'll be ready," said Keen

Keen and Werner have a 31-point lead over Pontiac driver Kelly Collins, who qualified fourth. With a maximum of 35 points available in a single race, Keen and Werner are in a great position to win the 2009 Acxiom GT drive GT pole of the season (not counting a disqualification at Mid-Ohio), and Porsche's 69th pole in Grand-Am history.

"It was exciting to see qualifying," Werner said. "Leh did a great job, and was improving every lap. He had a good lead - about fourth-tenths - until they made it close on the last lap. We are protecting our (points) lead from the front. If we stay ahead, we add to the lead, and that is perhaps an aggressive strategy but when the car runs so great, you do not hold it back."

Dumas was the talk of the day with his consistent fast laps in the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley. He was fastest early in the day in practice 1 and never ranked below fourth during the day's four sessions.

"We feel very good about this day, and hope it for tomorrow," Dumas said. "With no practice before the race, we must be ready and be happy with the car. I have felt good in the car all day. The Penske crew has given me a good, good car, and both Timo and I have learned the track quickly. This is our first time here, so you put all the things together, and you must smile with happiness. Every session, the car has been good quickly, so we post the fast times. It is very encouraging."

Ranked fifth in the driver's championship standings, Dumas and teammate Timo Bernhard (Germany) have been disappointed with their results in their first nine Grand-Am rookie season races - no wins, only two podiums from a duo that has recorded 23 victories together and two American Le Mans Series LMP2 championships.

For their first time ever racing in Montreal, their optimism is clearly evident.

"We are happy," Bernhard said. "We have been quick all week. This morning, we were second already, and always in the top four of every session. Qualifying third is very good as it is important in Grand-Am races to start up front, especially with the threat of the rain. I think the whole Penske team is excited about this race as today was a great day.

"Tomorrow, the weather conditions are going to change. Everybody predicts rain, so will have a whole new story. That makes it more important to start up front and stay out of trouble. Penske has a good rain set-up, of if it rains, it could be good for us. Last time in New Jersey, we got a podium in the rain and could have had a win except for the (tire) puncture near the end."

For Donohue and teammate Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ), Montreal could be a great place to regain their Rolex 24 winning form in the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley.

"This feels like the Brumos of old, where we feel competitive enough to go for the podium - it would be our first since New Jersey in early May," Donohue said. "It has been a while since we felt this confident because the car was good, and the crew made it better, throughout the day.

"With that said, what happens if it rains? That is something you can't do anything about except drive carefully and be aware of what's going on around you. In the rain, anything can happen, and if it rains we need to be in position to take advantage of every opportunity."

The second Brumos entry, the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley qualified by JC France (Ormond Beach, FL) and co-driven by Joao Barbosa (Portugal), will start 11th after France turned in a lap of 1:35.633 on his final qualifying lap. He passed three cars on the last lap to move up from 14th.

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Kelly Collins , Darren Law , David Donohue , Gilles Villeneuve , JC France , Timo Bernhard , Joao Barbosa , Romain Dumas , Eric Lux , Dirk Werner