Doran Racing's Lienhard and Theys Enter Maserati in ALMS Race At Road America Aug. 10-11 LEBANON, Ohio, Aug. 1 - Three of the most successful men in American sports car racing have entered a Maserati MC12 in the American Le Mans Series'...
Doran Racing's Lienhard and Theys Enter Maserati in ALMS Race At Road America Aug. 10-11
LEBANON, Ohio, Aug. 1 - Three of the most successful men in American sports car racing have entered a Maserati MC12 in the American Le Mans Series' next race, the Generac 500 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., Aug. 10-11.
Owner/driver Fredy Lienhard of Niederteufen, Switzerland and Belgium's Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz., will drive the blue No. 27 prepared by Kevin Doran of Doran Racing, Lebanon, Ohio. The three men have a long and very successful history racing together in endurance sports car events, including back-to-back overall victories in this very race in 2000 and 2001 when another sanctioning body organized the event.
Lista, Making Workspace Work, the worldwide leader in modular storage units, will be the primary sponsor of the Maserati, which will compete in the ALMS' GT1 class. Lista Office, a state-of-the-art office furniture company, is an associate sponsor. The team will use Michelin tires.
Road America will be this particular car's first race ever. Its appearance is expected to add much excitement to the event, especially for those around the world who share a passion for the Trident marque and its storied history.
Lienhard purchased the Maserati, chassis number ZAMDF44B000024053, for his private car collection last year. The team tested the car for a day and a half in June at Road America, which went very well, so the privateers decided to see for themselves how competitive they could be against the very powerful and well-funded factory Corvettes.
Theys admits he doesn't know how they will fare against such strong competition, but he is enthusiastic about the opportunity to drive the car at Road America, one of his favorite tracks.
"I have no idea how competitive we will be against the factory Corvettes," he said. "They have so much experience and they are a factory effort, and we are a small, private team. I have very little experience in a modern GT car, but I was really enthused about the Maserati after driving it at the test. In the little bit of time I spent in the car I really enjoyed it, and it will be a new experience for me.
"The only other time I drove a modern GT car was in one race last year in Brazil, when I drove a Saleen," he continued. "But I enjoyed driving the Maserati at the test, and I'm really happy that Kevin Doran is involved; it will be like in the old days.
"I also love Road America," Theys added. "I raced there for the first time in 1985 in Super Vees. The following year I started last in a Super Vee race there and finished second. I've raced there probably four or five times in Indy cars too, and then after that in sports cars. Fredy, Mauro Baldi and I won there in 2000 and 2001."
"It will be a new challenge for all of us, and it comes on a very challenging track," Lienhard concurred. At 4.048 miles and 14 turns, Road America is the second-longest road course in the United States.
The MC12 Theys and Lienhard will drive is the FIA GT1 version. It has a V-12, six-liter aluminum engine; a six-gear, sequential gearbox, and it uses a Marelli electronic management system. Its carbon brakes are by Brembo. Its bodywork and chassis are made of carbon fiber.
Both Theys and Lienhard were part of the driving squad for Doran Racing's Rolex 24 victory in 2002. That was one of just many victories for Doran Racing, which was the first and only team in U.S. history to win the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Watkins Glen Six-Hour race in the same year (1998).
If things goes as hoped at Road America, Lienhard said the team would also enter the Maserati in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park in Braselton, Ga., on Oct. 6.
Should they also enter that race, Theys said the team's third driver for that event will likely be Eric van de Poele of Incourt, Belgium, who has been racing with Lienhard and Theys all year in the Lista Office-sponsored Horag Racing Lola Judd in the Le Mans Series in Europe. They won that series' season opener, the 1,000 Kilometers of Monza, in April in the LMP2 class.
Along with Thomas Biagi, Michael Bartles and Pedro Lamy, van de Poele also finished second in class at the 24 Hours of Spa last Sunday in the Vitaphone Maserati MC12. It was one of four MC12s in the top seven in that race. Maserati currently leads Corvette by 35 points in the FIA GT manufacturer point standings, but Corvette has run virtually unchallenged for most of the year in the ALMS' GT1 division.