Baas and Co-Drivers Finish Second In Rolex Series Season Finale; They Also Help Propel Their Team To GT Team Championship
TOOELE, Utah, Sept. 15 - Ian Baas of Noblesville, Ind.; Leh Keen of Dublin, Ga. and Dominik Farnbacher of Germany finished second in the GT division Saturday in the SunChaser 1,000 Rolex Series season finale at Miller Motorsports Park.
Their Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3 Cup No. 85 was just 6.493 seconds behind the GT winner after more than six hours and 130 laps of grueling competition among 45 cars on the 4.5-mile road course near Salt Lake City.
One of their teammates, Dirk Werner of Germany, won the GT driver championship. Werner finished third Saturday in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles car, a sister car to the No. 85. His co-drivers were Wolf Henzler of Germany and Bryce Miller of Hoboken, N.J.
With the solid two-three finish, Farnbacher Loles won the team championship. It also helped Porsche win the manufacturers' title.
The No. 85, which is sponsored by Shoes for Crews, Recaro, Team Janica Racing and silvertrek.com, was a contender throughout the event. Keen qualified third on Friday and the car ran in second or third place all day Saturday.
It even led for an instant at the last turn on the last lap when Farnbacher made a last-ditch effort to pass the Banner Racing Pontiac that dominated the class Saturday. After posting the car's fastest lap of the day on lap 130 of 131 while running that car down, Farnbacher saw an opportunity to pounce at the very end when the top pair came upon the No. 36 Pontiac GTO that they were lapping. Farnbacher got ahead of the leader for a second, but then tangled with the lapped car and spun. Luckily he was able to return to the fray to still finish second.
Baas was second in the driver rotation for the No. 85, and he ran in second or third place throughout his two stints during the race, portions of which was televised live on SPEED.
Baas took over from Keen on lap 26, one hour and 13 minutes into the event. There was a little scare on lap 44 at the 2:04-hour mark when there were reports that the car was possibly leaking gear oil, but Baas was able to keep going.
About 10 laps later he pitted while in third to let Farnbacher have a turn.
Baas got back in the car under the event's second full-course caution on lap 73, 3:24 into the race, which was for oil in Turns 13-14. The green waved again on lap 78, 3:49 into the race, and Baas had a good battle with Miller in his sister car until he got second. The car remained in second the rest of the way.
When he took second place Baas was about 16.332 seconds behind Paul Edwards in the winning Pontiac. He was able to cut Edwards' advantage to only 2.459 seconds by lap 98. He was still in second when he pitted on lap 102 with 4:52 gone to let Keen take over.
Responding to the Porsche's pressure, the Pontiac picked up its pace. By lap 112 Keen was about 50 seconds behind. But Keen kept the pressure up for Farnbacher's assault at the very end.
"We got second again during my second stint, and then we held it until the end of the race," Baas said afterwards. "That battle with Miller was my best battle.
"We had a problem with the oil pump for the transmission, so we had to baby the gearbox as much as possible," he added. "Three of the TRG Porsches lost engines, so when we saw they were having a problem we short-shifted as much as possible to save ours."
Despite the great showing, Baas said the race was extremely eventful. "The DPs were crazy; they didn't show much consideration to the GT cars," he noted.
"Also, the way this track is laid out and due to its length, there are very few full-course cautions in the races here. Instead, all of a sudden you'll come upon a safety car on the edge of the track towing a car back to the p its. The terrain of the area is very rocky and dusty too, so there were rocks and gravel all over the track. It was mentally exhausting."
Still, despite the challenges it was a great result.
"Our pit stops were great, and it's really cool to be part of the Farnbacher Loles team," he said. "There were a lot of executives from the Porsche factory there, and it was really great to be able to bring the team and the manufacturers' titles home for them."
The 2007 Rolex Series concluded, the series' next race is its centerpiece and its season opener, the Rolex 24 at Daytona Beach, Fla., Jan. 25-27, 2008. Baas was part of the winning GT team at that race in 2006.
Baas's season isn't done yet, however, because he'll also compete in two SPEED World Challenge races in the STaSIS Motorsports Audi A4 No. 18 next month. The first will be held as part of the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Oct. 3-6. The second will be at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Oct. 18-20.