Watkins Glen qualifying report

By Russell Jaslow - Motorsport.com Miserable conditions greeted the competitors for the one and only qualifying session for the Six Hours at the Glen. This resulted in a grid that appeared to have been set by randomly selecting car numbers ...

By Russell Jaslow - Motorsport.com

Miserable conditions greeted the competitors for the one and only qualifying session for the Six Hours at the Glen. This resulted in a grid that appeared to have been set by randomly selecting car numbers rather than by performance as half the field only got one timed lap in.

A GT car starts third, there are more SRPII cars in the top 8 than SRP cars, and some of the top SRP entries are gridded well down in the field.

However, it was experience that eventually moved to the head of the line as Andy Wallace and Didier Theys put their respective mounts on the front row.

Wallace placed the Dyson Racing Ford R&S on the pole with a time of 2:12.728 around the 3.4-mile track.

"I really didn't see much of that lap," Wallace commented. "It was pretty exciting."

Team owner Rob Dyson and Elliott Forbes-Robinson will co-drive the #20 entry in tomorrow's race. The #16 Dyson car, to be driven by James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, could only manage a 21st starting spot in the qualifying roulette.

The front row will include the Judd Ferrari of Lista Doran Racing as Didier Theys was able to wring out a lap of 2:13.840.

"I only did one flying lap," Theys explained what many drivers had to go through this afternoon. Theys will be joined by Mauro Baldi and Freddy Lienhard for the race.

The Lista Doran team decided to pull out an old workhorse for the next three races -- Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, and Mid-Ohio -- abandoning the Crawford chassis for the time being. This will allow the Crawford engineers time to further develop and test their car.

The Ferrari chassis on the front row was built back in November, 1993. "That's older than our car!" was Dyson's reaction when he heard this at the press conference.

Starting a surprising third is the BMW M3 car of JET Motorsports' Toney Jennings and Terry Borcheller, a GT classed entry, with a time of 2:14.837.

The top SRPII car, the Porschehuas Racing Nissan Lola, will start fourth overall and will be driven by Robert Julien, Bruno St. Jacques, and Greg Pootmans.

Weather wise, the day was fine up until a bit more than an hour before qualifying started when a passing storm dumped heavy rain onto Watkins Glen International causing extremely slippery conditions. This forced the Grand American Road Racing officials to combine the split qualifying sessions into one 30 minute stint to ensure fairness in track conditions for all the cars.

With the cars, especially the sports prototype classes, producing massively long rooster tails, combined with the rain and dark skies, visibility was a challenge to say the least.

The session was stopped no less than three times due to off course excursions that resulted in contact with the barriers. The worse of which involved the Schumacher Racing Porsche GT1 that team owner Larry Schumacher backed into the guardrail. The GTS classed car received heavy damage, and the resulting damage to the guardrail forced officials to checker the session early.

Whether the team can repair the car for the race remains in doubt. "We don't have another rear piece," GTS points leader Larry Schumacher explained. "There are very few of these cars in existence. There is someone in Canada that might or might not loan one to us. If they do, we are back in."

Needless to say, this bizarre grid for Saturday's endurance race will cause the first few laps to be a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The race, round 4 of the Grand American Road Racing Championship, is scheduled to take the green flag at 2:30 P.M. with the aim to race into the night.

However, in this part of the country at this time of year, it will not be that dark. "Just to be sure," Andy Wallace said, "I had carrots for lunch and will have more tonight."

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Didier Theys , Rob Dyson , Mauro Baldi , Elliott Forbes-Robinson , Terry Borcheller , Robert Julien
Teams Dyson Racing , Doran Racing