pole to pinball
Terry Borcheller experienced the best and worst of racing during the Rolex Sports Car Series event at Phoenix International Raceway on Sept. 10. For the first time, the Daytona Prototype cars raced alone, as the series held separate races for the prototype and GT class cars. Unfortunately, the split format didn't reduce on-track issues -- 48 minutes of the two-hour 45-minute race were run under caution.
Borcheller, of Gainesville, Ga., started the weekend on a high, taking the DP pole position in a fast 57.540 seconds (94.473 mph) on the 1.51-mile infield road course. His hopes of victory faded on the first race lap, though, as he was hit from behind at the first turn, forcing a pitstop to repair damaged bodywork on his No. 54 Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need Pontiac-powered Doran JE4. Borcheller returned to the track 19th of 20 cars and moved up to 14th before being hit by another car. He pitted for more repairs, losing four positions. He regained two places to 16th before pitting for a driver change at 1h7.
Ralf Kelleners of Dusseldorf, Germany, took over, starting his stint 19th. He recovered to 14th, but was caught in another incident at 1h44, knocking him out of the race. He and Borcheller finished 15th.
"I had a clean start and a clean lead going into to turn one, but Mike Borkowski hit me in the back. It went downhill from there," Borcheller said. "I was running times that were pretty competitive without the center section of the car. It was creating a lift in the banking so it was real squirrelly in the back, but we were still running times that were competitive with everybody except maybe the first three cars. That showed we had a very good race car and a very good chance to win.
"Cort Wagner got into the back of me also. I let the 77 car go by, but I stilll had to make the corner. Cort decided to follow the 77 car, but there wasn't room for him. So we had contact and everything I'd worked for disappeared at that point. When Ralf got in, the crew fixed the car, repaired the center section. He went back out and continued where I left off. He got hit in the back in the banking and was trying to get out of everybody's way because the car was damaged, but he ended up becoming a pinball at the end of the straightaway."
Prior to the race weekend, Borcheller joined other Pontiac drivers, Speed Channel reporters and Phoenix media in a competition at Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. The drivers and media raced in a Pontiac Grand Prix GXP autocross event and a one-hour karting enduro.
In addition to providing sponsorship support for Borcheller's race program, the Bondurant school was a temporary home for the Bell Motorsports/FTN team last week, giving them an ideal workshop between races. "I want to say a big thank-you to Bob and the entire school for allowing us to prep our car there," Borcheller said.
Borcheller will drive the No. 54 Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need Pontiac-powered Doran JE4 in a Rolex Sports Car Series race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y., on Sept. 23.