California: Doran-Lista qualifying report

Doran-Lista's Theys grabs third pole of season at California Speedway Friday with an automatic new track record FONTANA, Calif., March 22 - The Doran-Lista Racing team of Lebanon, Ohio and driver Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz. topped the...

Doran-Lista's Theys grabs third pole of season at California Speedway Friday with an automatic new track record

FONTANA, Calif., March 22 - The Doran-Lista Racing team of Lebanon, Ohio and driver Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz. topped the charts in qualifying Friday at California Speedway for tomorrow's four-hour Rolex 400 at California Speedway.

Saturday's race, which will be broadcast live on Speed Channel beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, shares the card here with Sunday's Yamaha Indy 500 Indy Racing League event.

Theys' pole continued the team's perfect record in the Grand American Road Racing Association so far this year. The team has sat on the pole and won the race in the series' two previous events, including the prestigious Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona last month.

Theys' lap of 1:29.151 for an average speed of 113.874 mph was an automatic new track record. It is the series' first appearance at this facility and its 2.81-mile infield road course, which uses part of the track's 2-mile D-shaped oval.

Joining Theys in the cockpit of the Doran-Lista Dallara Judd #27 for this race will be Fredy Lienhard Jr. of Erlen, Switzerland and Santa Barbara, Calif. Lienhard, 22, is making his first American start here. This event marks only his second time in this particular car, as he participated in the January pre-Rolex 24 test at Daytona International Speedway while substituting for his father, Fredy Lienhard Sr.

Theys' run was a testament to the expertise and hard work of Kevin Doran and the entire Doran-Lista team. After the car lost its brakes and crashed heavily into a tire barrier just last Saturday in Sebring, Fla., the team not only made the necessary repairs but they changed the car's configuration from the American Le Mans series' rules to the Grand American Road Racing Assn.'s rules, towed completely across the nation and had the car in perfect form here Friday.

Theys' qualifying lap was more than 2 miles per hour faster than the 113.341 mph circuit he ran here Thursday.

"Every session we go out we work hard at trying to put the best package together," Theys said.

The track temperatures were cooler Friday than they were Thursday and they'll continue in that direction this evening. The weather forecast is calling for a chance of rain tonight into tomorrow morning.

"It was much cooler today than yesterday, but I don't think that affected us much at all," Theys said. "This track isn't very hard particularly because there aren't much G-forces here. Tomorrow the length of the race and the traffic are going to be the physical components we will deal with. It's going to be a long race."

Another difference to the track between Thursday and Friday was that 32 Indy cars tested on it Friday too, adding their Firestone Firehawk rubber to the equation.

"When you're by yourself there isn't much difference with the additional rubber on the track, but now the groove is wider," Theys noted.

The race will require four stints of about 55 minutes each for the Doran-Lista team. Theys will start the race per the rulebook before handing things over to Lienhard.

"We qualified on the hard compound [of Goodyear tires] because we want to double-stint with it," Theys disclosed. "We have a young driver [Lienhard Jr.], and we want to give him a set of warm tires if possible when he gets in the car. We'll decide about changing tires during the last five minutes of my first stint."

Lienhard is delighted to have such an experienced mentor as his teammate, and Theys is enjoying the challenge of being a teacher.

"It's good for young drivers to work with veterans," Theys noted, "and it's also a challenge for me. Sometimes it's difficult to explain things that you just know through experience, so it's a good exercise for me too."

-dlr/lm-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Didier Theys , Fredy Lienhard , Kevin Doran