Watkisn Glen: Doran-Lista Friday report

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., June 21 - If four is great, perhaps five will be even greater. That's the hope of the Doran-Lista Racing team, which debuted its new 5-liter Judd engine in the Doran-Lista Dallara ...

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., June 21 - If four is great, perhaps five will be even greater.

That's the hope of the Doran-Lista Racing team, which debuted its new 5-liter Judd engine in the Doran-Lista Dallara #27 during practice Friday at Watkins Glen International.

The team will compete in Sunday's Six Hours of the Glen Grand Am Rolex Series race, which is part of the Sports Car Grand Prix.

Led by team manager Kevin Doran, the Lebanon, Ohio-based team won this race last year in a Ferrari. It is also the current point leader in the top class, Sports Racing Prototype, in the Grand American Road Racing Association's Rolex Series. It has won three of the series' first four races so far this year and finished second in the fourth one.

One of its drivers, Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz., also leads the driver point standings. Joining Theys behind the wheel here this weekend is another veteran, Mauro Baldi of Monte Carlo, Monaco, and a top rookie, Fredy Lienhard Jr. of Erlen, Switzerland and Santa Barbara, Calif.

The team spent the first day of summer working hard on its set-up during two one-hour practice sessions at the Glen Friday. Theys and Lienhard Jr. drove in the first one, and Theys and Baldi were behind the wheel in the second practice session Friday.

The team was second overall in the first practice session when Theys' fifth lap was turned in 1:46.220. It was third overall in the second session when Theys only took 1:41.872 to make it around the 3.4-mile, 15-turn long road course here on his seventh lap of that session.

"We're doing pretty good so far," Doran said at the end of the day. "It seems like this chassis and engine combination is faster than the Ferrari would be. We have good power. We're working on some other things. and chippin g away at it bit by bit.

"So far the engine is doing great," he added. "The brake pedal is a little long, but the brakes stop good," he added. "The car has tended to have a long brake pedal all year on steel brakes, but it's fine with carbon-fiber brakes."

"This is our first day with this engine and the different wing," Theys noted, "and this car is completely different than the Ferrari. We didn't test here, so today we've been working to find a good set-up.

"The other Grand Am races we've been in this year were on infield road courses inside an oval speedway; this time we're on a real road course and the car needs a real road-course set-up," Theys added with a smile.

"The engine is running great but the water temperature is a little hotter than we'd like," Theys admitted. "But the crew is working on it, and they'll find a solution. These are working sessions for us, but I think we'll have a good set-up by Sunday morning.

"We got this five-liter engine two weeks ago," Theys continued. "It was tested by another team before today, but today is its first time ever on a racetrack during a race weekend. The power is the same so far, but this engine gives more torque. That should give us better acceleration.

"We changed gears between the first and second sessions, and made some suspension changes," he added. "I still think we need it to be a little stiffer in the front."

"There is a big difference between this five-liter engine and the four-liter one," Baldi said. "It feels very strong, especially in the torque. We still have to work a little on our handling. We need to balance the car a little better. I couldn't get a clean lap in when I was in the car because of traffic, but the car felt good. The Dallara has a lot more downforce than the Ferrari we had here last year."

In addition to getting used to the new engine, Lienhard was getting used to the track. He turned his first laps at the Glen ever Friday morning.

"It's beautiful," he said after the first practice session. "I liked it from the very first lap. It's similar to Dijon in France.

"It's pretty tough," he continued. "You have to find your pace and rhythm.

"The first turn is very important," Lienhard added. "You have to go fast through there because you're coming off the long frontstretch, but with the way the turn is banked, it's easy for a car to become unstable. You have to brake in the apex, and try to have as much weight on the front tires as possible.

"The man's part of the track is the esses," Lienhard added. "You need guts through the esses because it's all flat out.

"I was just finding my shifting points, braking points and acceleration points that time," Lienhard noted. "Didier gave me some tips, but each driver had his own style. I couldn't remember everything he told me before I went out, but then as I found my own way around the track, things that he said came back to me and I could see what he meant. Each driver is a little different."

Another one-hour practice session will be held tomorrow morning before the 15-minute qualifying session at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Temperatures should be in the 80s as they were Friday.

Sunday's schedule calls for a 20-minute warm-up session at 9 a.m. followed by the start of the Rolex Series Six Hours of the Glen at 11 a.m. The race will be broadcast from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 29 on Speed Channel.

-dl/lm-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Didier Theys , Mauro Baldi , Kevin Doran