Road Atlanta: Doran Racing race report

Doran Racing's Lista and Lista Office Maserati Finishes Second in GT1 Class In Saturday's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 6 - Doran Racing and drivers Didier Theys, Fredy Lienhard and Andrea Bertolini finished second in the...

Doran Racing's Lista and Lista Office Maserati Finishes Second in GT1 Class In Saturday's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 6 - Doran Racing and drivers Didier Theys, Fredy Lienhard and Andrea Bertolini finished second in the GT1 class in the 1,000-mile 10th anniversary Petit Le Mans American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race with their Lista and Lista Office Maserati MC12 No. 27.

It was Theys' and Lienhard's second podium finish in this race in as many years in two different classes. They finished third in the LMP2 class in this race last year.

This was only the second race ever for their Maserati, which has now been on the podium both times.

The effort also gave Maserati its best finish ever in this series, and team owner Kevin Doran was awarded an IMSA Cup for fielding the class's top privateer entry.

The team's remarkable performance here actually began on Friday when Bertolini, of Castellarano, Reggio Emilia, Italy, won the class pole over the factory Corvettes. That took just 1:17.42.

Saturday's race took 9 hours and 19 minutes. The Maserati almost made it to the end, but it was forced to retire with 8 hours and 36 minutes complete when an unknown mechanical problem put Bertolini into the outside frontstretch wall as he was working the car's 315th lap of the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course. Luckily he wasn't hurt in the crash, which damaged the car's left side.

Completing 314 laps more than met the series' rule that an entry must complete 70 percent of the distance achieved by the overall winner, which was 394 laps this year, to earn a podium finish and prize money. Both were assured for the No. 27 when it completed lap 276. It ended up 19th in the overall race results for the 30-car, four-class field.

The team's only other real problem all day occurred 27 minutes before the accident when a water hose let go while the car was 12th overall. Bertolini got to the pits under his own power, and Doran directed the car back to the transporter for repairs. The hard-working Lebanon, Ohio-based crew had the problem diagnosed and repaired in about 17 minutes.

Bertolini set the car's fastest lap of the race, a 1:18.031, on the car's 303rd lap, five laps before the water hose problem.

The team ran in second place in class for all but 15 minutes of the race. Jan Magnussen passed Theys for the class lead on the first lap to push him to second, and Oliver Gavin got by four minutes later to push him to third. Just 20 minutes were in the books when Magnussen's Corvette slammed into a tire barrier off the esses after contact with Bryan Herta's Acura. Luckily Magnussen wasn't hurt, but his Corvette was retired shortly thereafter. The Maserati remained in second place in class the rest of the day.

After Theys, of Scottsdale, Ariz., started the race, Lienhard, of Niederteufen, Switzerland, took over. Bertolini drove next. Theys then got in again, with the rest of the rotation being Bertolini, Lienhard, Theys and Bertolini at the end. The entry was 12th overall before the six-hour mark, and it remained in that position until the very end. The team had achieved a comfortable set-up for the race, and all three drivers ran consistently fast. Until the end the drivers' day was remarkably incident- and problem-free, with the only request being more ice during pitstops due to Georgia's 85-degree heat and high humidity.

Didier Theys: "I had zero incidents, and I had no problems at all with the car. The gearbox was perfect, and the Michelin tires were excellent as always. The team did a very good job. It was just hot, hot, hot.

"I'm disappointed that we didn't finish, but I'm happy we're on the podium."

Fredy Lienhard:  "I'm never completely satisfied with my performance, but I
feel I did well.  I need to do more physical training.  But other than that, I
was in the car two times, and I had a good experience.  The difference in
speed in the classes is a problem here.  I let the faster cars by because I didn't
want to have any incidents.  We were running for second anyway.

"I have known for years that Didier is a great driver, but this was our first time working with Andrea and he did a great job too. I feel sorry for him because it wasn't his mistake. Until you have an accident like the one he had today, you sometimes forget how fast you're really going.

"I'm very happy with the team and the drivers. They all did a fantastic job. That's why I'm not upset. For me, this experience is something that money can't buy."

Andrea Bertolini: "We really don't know what happened to cause the accident. We're looking into several possible reasons.

"The only other incident I had was once early in the race when I came around a turn and the track was blocked by three cars that had crashed. I went off in the grass to get around them, and we weren't involved. That happened in Corner 7.

"You have to have maximum concentration here, especially when overtaking the slower cars.

"Our car was good all day; we had good balance."

-credit: doran racing/lm

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Didier Theys , Bryan Herta , Fredy Lienhard , Oliver Gavin , Andrea Bertolini , Kevin Doran
Teams Doran Racing