Doran-Lista and Theys will finish no worse than second for the year no matter what happens at Daytona Finale. LEBANON, Ohio, Oct. 28 - First or second. Heading into the tenth and final race of the year, that's what the 2002 Sports Racing ...
Doran-Lista and Theys will finish no worse than second for the year no matter what happens at Daytona Finale.
LEBANON, Ohio, Oct. 28 - First or second.
Heading into the tenth and final race of the year, that's what the 2002 Sports Racing Prototype (SRP) national championship in the Grand American Rolex Series has come down to for Doran-Lista Racing of Lebanon, Ohio, and its lead driver, Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Both the team and Theys will finish no worse than second in the team and driver point standings, respectively, when the checkered waves at the Grand-Am Season Finale on Sunday, Nov. 10 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. The three-hour race, which begins at 1 p.m. Eastern time that day, will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel.
Both the team and Theys have led their respective point standings all season long. Like the series' brother, NASCAR Winston Cup, the Grand Am Rolex series' premier race is held at the beginning of the season. In the world of endurance sports car racing that's the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona instead of the Daytona 500. The Doran-Lista team won that twice-around-the-clock enduro handily in February with its potent red and white Dallara Judd #27 sponsored by Lista, the world-wide leader in modular storage systems.
The Rolex 24 was the first of four victories for the team in the nine races held so far this year. The team also won at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.; California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.; and the series' most-recent race, held at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec in September. The team recorded the largest margin of victory in series history at that event.
When the math was done after the trip to Canada, Doran-Lista Racing had a five-point lead over the defending series champion, Dyson Racing's #16, in the team standings.
The entry list hasn't been finalized for the finale and the point standings system is a little complicated, because teams earn points only if they're registered in the series' Team Owners Program (TOP). A total of 35 points are up for grabs at each race, but only one other team - the Dyson Racing #16 team - has enough points to possibly push the Doran-Lista team out of first place. Even if they would be able to do that, the Doran-Lista team can't finish any worse than second, the same spot it finished last year.
The driver point system is more straightforward. Theys has a nine-point edge over rookie Chris Dyson in the driver standings, and must finish at least fourth in class to win the driver crown. Again, a total of 35 points is up for grabs at each race, and Theys can finish no worse than second in the championship no matter what happens at the finale. He has finished in the top three for the last two years, but this would be his first Grand-Am championship.
Joining Theys behind the wheel at Daytona will be rookie Fredy Lienhard Jr., a native of Switzerland who is a student at Santa Barbara Community College in Santa Barbara, Calif. Although Theys has competed in all nine races so far this year and won six poles in the process, Lienhard will be making his sixth series start. He has tested at Daytona, but never driven in a race there.
Lienhard is a quick learner, however. Although he's a rookie, he set the fastest lap of the race at Mont-Tremblant Sept. 15 and he's fourth in the overall SRP driver standings going into the Daytona finale.
Two other Doran-Lista drivers hold top-10 spots too. Mauro Baldi is currently fifth in the SRP driver standings after competing in four races, while Fredy Lienhard Sr. is ninth due to his finishes in three events. Neither is slated to compete in the finale, however, so they'll probably drop a little further down in the year-end standings.
Testing and practice begins at Daytona on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Qualifying for the top classes will be held from 12:35 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9. Although there are no bonus points given for earning the pole, the Doran-Lista team has won the pole in both of the previous races at Daytona this year with Theys behind the wheel.
The three-hour season finale begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10. All the action will be on Daytona's 3.56-mile road course, which uses the banked tri-oval of the superspeedway and non-banked infield sections.
For more information on the series, see www.grandamerican.com. A profile on the team is on that Web site at www.grand-am.com/news2.cfm?id=315.
For more information on the team, see www.lista.com and www.doranracing.com.