VIR: Doran-Lista Racing preview

LEBANON, Ohio, Sept. 30 - Doran-Lista Racing, the same team that was so impressive in the inaugural Grand Am Rolex Series race at Virginia International Raceway, will return to the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course in Alton, Va. for the second...

LEBANON, Ohio, Sept. 30 - Doran-Lista Racing, the same team that was so impressive in the inaugural Grand Am Rolex Series race at Virginia International Raceway, will return to the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course in Alton, Va. for the second running of the VIR 400 this weekend with a totally different car.

Last year the team's lead driver, Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz., set the fastest race lap in the event in the Doran-Lista Dallara enroute to a second-place finish. This year he has a different car - the Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Toyota #27, which was designed and built by Kevin Doran at the team's headquarters in Lebanon, Ohio - and a different co-driver, Bill Auberlen of Hermosa Beach, Calif. Auberlen was the co-champion of the series' GT class last year, while Theys won the driving championship for Grand Am's Sports Racing Prototype class in 2002.

Last September Theys' fastest lap of the race was run in 1:39.618 for an average speed of 118.171 mph. He started second after qualifying was rained out for his car's class.

That race took five hours to run. This year's event will be much shorter, as it carries a time limit of two hours and 45 minutes. It is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.

This is only the Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Toyota's third race ever, although a Chevrolet-powered DORAN JE4 fielded by Bell Motorsports has been competing since the season opener, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in February. Doran Enterprises is currently second in the car manufacturer point standings in the Daytona Prototype class with 311 points to Fabcar's 335. The Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Toyota #27 is for sale, as are similar cars just like it that are being produced at the team headquarters.

The bright red Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Toyota finished third both in class and overall in its first race ever, which was held at Watkins Glen, N.Y. in August. It suffered some teething problems in September at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec in its second race, but still placed fifth in the Daytona Prototype class.

"I believe our chassis will be very good at VIR," said Theys. "Every time we go out we make improvements on our set-ups."

"It's the same on the engine side," he continued. "At Mont-Tremblant we had a different Toyota engine configuration than we had at the Glen, and it was a better package. The engine had more driveability and better mapping."

"VIR is a race track where we were very competitive last year," he added. "We were the fastest, but we had a problem. It's a very challenging track because there are both slow areas and fast areas. It is not easy to pass there, so qualifying well will be important, especially now with the sprint race configuration."

The VIR 400 will be broadcast on a same-day, tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.

A promoter's test day is scheduled for Thursday. Practice will be held from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. and from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Friday.

Another one-hour practice session will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday prior to qualifying for the Daytona Prototype class from 1:25 p.m. until 1:40 p.m. that afternoon.

There will be a half-hour warm-up session at 9:15 a.m. the following day prior to the 400-kilometer, 77-lap race getting the green flag at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Didier Theys , Bill Auberlen , Kevin Doran