Watkins Glen: Doran-Lista qualifying report

Theys to start third tomorrow at the glen in the Doran-Lista Dallara Judd ...

Theys to start third tomorrow at the glen in the Doran-Lista Dallara Judd #27; qualifies faster than previous track record.

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., June 22 - The top four Sports Racing Prototype cars all broke the long-course qualifying record at Watkins Glen International Saturday afternoon during qualifying for tomorrow's Six Hours of the Glen Grand Am Rolex Series race, part of the Sports Car Grand Prix.

The pride of Lebanon, Ohio, the Doran-Lista Dallara Judd #27, was one of the four. Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz., who will share the car with Mauro Baldi of Monte Carlo, Monaco and Fredy Lienhard Jr. of Erlen, Switzerland and Santa Barbara, Calif., turned the 3.4-mile, 15-turn road course in 1:39.846 seconds for an average speed of 122.589 mph on his fourth lap of the 15-minute qualifying session.

That earned him third place in the 39-car starting line-up. When the green flag waves tomorrow at 11 a.m., Theys will be to the inside of the Miracle Motorsports Riley & Scott Ford, with the Dyson Riley & Scott Fords just ahead in row one. Butch Leitzinger's new track record will go in the books at 1:39.104, or 123.507 mph.

Earlier in the day Theys topped the charts in the morning practice session with a lap at 1:40.093, or 122.286 mph, on used Goodyears. The best the Dyson team could do in that round was James Weaver's lap in 1:40.712 mph, or 121.535 mph.

The Doran-Lista team tops the current point standings and Theys leads the drivers standings. The team won this particular race last year in a Ferrari.

The team switched to its current Dallara chassis at the end of last year and it debuted its new 5-liter Judd engine yesterday here. The team has been working hard during each practice session and between sessions back in the garage area to find the best set-up for this chassis and engine combination under changing track conditions. Yesterday's weather was sunny and hot, while Saturday's qualifying session was run under overcast but hot conditions.

The team has been making incredible progress since the moment the car was unloaded from its transporter, but it's a learning process.

"That time I had a lot of understeer," Theys reported after qualifying. "The mechanical grip of the car is perfect now and the car is great over the bumps; we're just a little unbalanced and we don't know why. Any corner that is faster than third gear, you get understeer. I think we might have a little too much rear wing.

"The engine is good and the brakes are fine," Theys added. "The car was quite good this morning and we're learning a lot. We'll just have to put our heads together and try to figure out what's wrong, but right now it's a mystery."

Theys had hoped the pole was in sight, but he realizes the challenge at hand. "It's all due to a lack of testing," he said. "The Dyson team has been using their chassis for several years; we just got our Dallara at the end of last year. We're making progress but we're still learning how things affect other things. The weather played a role too, but that's the same for everybody."

Theys also knows that a race isn't won during qualifying, especially not an endurance race.

"Six hours is a long race," he noted. "I'll watch them [the Dyson team] and we'll see how things develop. We have many years of good competition with the Dyson team, which is good for us and good for the series. We have a great team. Kevin Doran's car preparation is second to none. We'll just have to see how things develop tomorrow and try our best."

-dlr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Didier Theys , Fredy Lienhard , Mauro Baldi , Kevin Doran