Road Atlanta: Doran-Lista Racing race report

Doran-Lista scores a podium finish in LMP 900 Class and finishes fifth overall BRASELTON, Ga., June 29 - Doran-Lista Racing and drivers Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Eric van de Poele of St. Jean-Geest, Belgium finished a terrific third...

Doran-Lista scores a podium finish in LMP 900 Class and finishes fifth overall

BRASELTON, Ga., June 29 - Doran-Lista Racing and drivers Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Eric van de Poele of St. Jean-Geest, Belgium finished a terrific third in the top class, LMP 900, and fifth overall in the Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta Sunday afternoon at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park. The two-hour and 45-minute American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race was broadcast live on CBS.

Approximately 703 miles to the northwest at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the DORAN JE4 Grand Am Prototype owned by Bell Motorsports and designed and built at Doran Racing's headquarters in Lebanon, Ohio posted its second victory in Grand Am Rolex Series action Saturday.

In Sunday's race at Road Atlanta, the Doran-Lista Dallara MG #27 was also a true contender, running most of the race in fourth or fifth place overall. Some problems developed on the team's second pit stop, however, which cost it one position in the grueling event, which was run under very hot and humid conditions.

The team chose a Michelin tire compound that held up very well. On Theys' first pit stop, which occurred around 3:51 p.m., the team didn't even change tires, and just fueled the car and sent Theys back on his way.

By the end of his second stint Theys definitely needed new rubber. The team brought him in at approximately 4:51 p.m. under green for four tires, fuel and a driver change. The pits at Road Atlanta are very tight, and unfortunately the Olive Garden Ferrari pitted in the stall to the left of the Doran-Lista team (facing the track) just a few seconds before Theys arrived. Space ran out and the Doran-Lista Dallara just missed its mark needed for the fueling rig, costing the team valuable seconds to reposition the car. Things went from bad to worse when the car wasn't in the right gear when van de Poele was ready to pull out, so the car had to be restarted once again.

The team slipped to seventh in the overall standings after that stop, but other teams had problems too and van de Poele was able to edge back up to third in the LMP 900 class and fifth overall at the checkered.

The event had no full-course cautions to give anyone a break, and the pace was grueling.

Despite the podium finish, both Theys and van de Poele were disappointed because they felt the team would have been fourth overall without the problematic pit stop.

Conversely, they also felt that there was no way their car could have beaten the Audis which finished first and second, so they were grateful for the third-place finish in class. Olivier Beretta and Max Papis were right behind them in fourth place in class in a Panoz, as both completed 125 laps to the overall winner's 128.

"The track was fine; the traffic was normal; I had no close calls; it was just that bad pit stop which cost us," said Theys. "The car had some understeer and the brakes were very hard all race," he added. After he got out of the car, Theys was suffering from cramps in his right foot and a blister on his left hand suffered during his double stint.

"Our car was understeering, but I just tried to keep the pace," said van de Poele, who only got the call to substitute for Fredy Lienhard Sr. on Wednesday night. "It was very hard to go any faster than that. The track was very dirty when I was driving, too."

"I didn't even know I was going to get to be here this weekend though, and it is a privilege to be with Didier and this team," he added. "I thought I'd just be spending the weekend with my kids; it was their first weekend off school. But we couldn't have beaten the Audis today; they were just too strong."

"That pit stop really cost us," said team owner Kevin Doran matter of factly. "Our Michelin tires were fantastic though. We did a double stint on them and they held up. They're always fantastic. The only problem with them is that everybody is on them."

The next American Le Mans Series race is the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. at noon Pacific time on Sunday, July 27. It will be broadcast live on NBC and on a tape-delayed basis on Eurosport. That race will be two hours and 45 minutes in length too.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Didier Theys , Max Papis , Eric van de Poele , Fredy Lienhard , Olivier Beretta , Kevin Doran
Teams Doran Racing