VIR: Qualifying report

Theys Gives Toyota First Rolex Series Pole ALTON, Va. (October 4, 2003) -- Toyota picked up its first-ever Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series pole during qualifying for the VIR 400 thanks to Doran-Lista Racing driver Didier Theys. The...

Theys Gives Toyota First Rolex Series Pole

ALTON, Va. (October 4, 2003) -- Toyota picked up its first-ever Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series pole during qualifying for the VIR 400 thanks to Doran-Lista Racing driver Didier Theys. The Belgium racer piloted the No. 27 Toyota-powered Doran JE4 to a 1:46.837 lap at 110.187 mph, securing him the historic pole.

"So far, we're very pleased with the car. Every time we go out, we improve the setup. The car's still having a little bit of under-steer, but I think we can live with that," said Theys, who put the new Toyota-powered Daytona Prototype on the pole in only its third race. "The engine responded very well. We improved the mapping; Bill (Auberlen) did a very good job with the electronics. We're very pleased to start the race like that. The good thing is we're not happy with the handling yet, and that's a good thing for the future."

Andy Pilgrim made it all an all-Doran front row with his 109.591 mph lap in 1:47.418 in the Bell Motorsports No. 27 Chevy-engined Doran JE4. The decision to put Pilgrim in the car was a last-minute call by car owner/driver Forest Barber.

"We've got a championship to win. Andy will qualify the car and start the race. We'll probably go with two drivers. We'll see how the race goes to determine if I will drive, but the championship takes preference," explained Barber.

"He had the team at heart, and he thought this would be the best shot for a team championship. He's a heck of a team player, and a heck of a team owner, obviously," said Pilgrim. "It was only about 10 minutes before qualifying that they said I was going in, so I didn't have time to really prepare, so I'm pretty happy with the way it went. It was just a matter of getting changed, getting in the car, and go! That's what I did."

While the Bell Motorsports team and driver Terry Borcheller are the running for the team owner and driver championships, Barber was taken out of contention for top driver honors when he missed the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen due to a family emergency.

The team that Bell Motorsports is chasing for the first-ever Daytona Prototype championship will start on the second row. The points-leading No. 58 Red Bull Porsche FABCAR of Brumos Racing will be in the number three position. Mike Borkowski turned a 1:48.242 lap at 108.756 mph in the Porsche.

"We ended up where we thought. The two Doran cars have really been the measure of this weekend. Even at Mont-Tremblant, they gave signs they were going to be quick, but especially here with the long straights, they definitely were stronger all weekend," said Borkowski, who shares an eight-point lead with co-driver David Donohue in the standings.

Locally-based G&W Motorsports earned the second spot on the second row. Four-time Porsche Super Cup champion Patrick Huisman drove the No. 8 BMW Picchio DP2 during qualifying.

In only his second Rolex Series race of the year, Simon Gregg took the pole in the GTS class. Gregg piloted the Derhaag Motorsports No. 40 Corvette to a 107.240 mph lap in 1:49.772, earning him $1,000 from the Acxiom Grand Touring Challenge.

"It really feels good to do well at VIR, especially given my dad's history here," said Gregg, whose father Peter Gregg won the first-ever IMSA GT race with Hurley Haywood at VIR in 1971. "I took a few races off. I was unhappy with my results early in the year, but now I'm much happier. Jim Derhaag's team prepares a good car, with a strong chassis and an awesome motor."

The GTS points leader was surprisingly absent from qualifying. The Heritage Motorsports No. 48 Mustang remained in the paddock during the session as the crew changed out the engine.

"We decided to change motors this morning. We had a skip in the motor. We changed the electrical and fuel stuff, but the skip kept getting worse," explained team owner/driver Dave Machavern, whose Mustang will start from the back of grid on Sunday.

Cort Wagner grabbed his seventh GT pole of the season at the wheel of the Scuderia Ferrari of Washington No. 33 Ferrari 360GT. Wagner picked up $1,000 from the Acxiom Grand Touring Challenge for his lap of 1:52.544 at 104.599 mph.

"The car's really running great. The Ferrari of Washington team has put an incredible car together. As usual, the car is spot-on. I think there's a little more in the car. I missed a little in the lower esses, but it wasn't worth going to try to find it, because we had the pole by an incredible amount," said Wagner, who leads the GT point standings with co-driver Brent Martini by 13 points. "The plan for tomorrow is to run a steady race. We need to finish, and we need to finish well. Going to Daytona without a lot of pressure would help."

The G&W Motorsports No. 12 Nissan Lola, the lone entry in the SRP II class this weekend, recorded a 2:01.643 lap at 96.775 mph with Robert Prilika at the controls. Co-driving will be sports car and Indy car veteran Davy Jones, running his first race of the season.

The green flag will fly on the Rolex Series VIR 400 on Sunday, October 5 at 12:30 p.m. The VIR 400 will be broadcast on a same-day tape delay on SPEED Channel, with the three-hour broadcast starting at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 5.

For more information on the VIR 400, contact VIR at 888-RACE099 or visit the track's website at www.virclub.com.

Polesitter's qualifying time disallowed

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Didier Theys , Andy Pilgrim , Patrick Huisman , Terry Borcheller , Hurley Haywood , David Donohue , Simon Gregg , Davy Jones , Mike Borkowski , Forest Barber , Robert Prilika , Peter Gregg , Cort Wagner