ALTON, Va., Oct. 8 - Some special guest drivers and some prospective customers of the DORAN JE4 Grand American Rolex Series car got the opportunity to test-drive the Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Toyota ...
ALTON, Va., Oct. 8 - Some special guest drivers and some prospective customers of the DORAN JE4 Grand American Rolex Series car got the opportunity to test-drive the Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Toyota #27 Monday at Virginia International Raceway, less than 24 hours after the same car set the fastest lap of the VIR 400 race here.
The team's lead driver, Didier Theys, warmed the car up by running a lap that was even faster than the fastest lap of Sunday's race. Then the guest drivers took turns taking the car around the challenging and beautiful 3.27-mile road course, turning more than 100 laps during the all-day private test session.
One of the special guest drivers was SPEED Channel analyst Jack Baldwin, a racer himself.
"The car feels good. It's very predictable. It was fun driving it," said Baldwin after he climbed out of the cockpit. "It felt like a good, strong car. It would be a fun car to race. It's user-friendly. It's pretty easy to come to terms with it. In 25 to 30 laps you'd have it figured out how to drive this particular car, and you'd be going pretty fast.
"It's more user-friendly than what I'm used to," he emphasized. "You don't know all your boundaries until you do more laps, but I could go out and do a stint right now."
Forest Barber, who campaigns the other DORAN JE4 currently in action, the Bell Motorsports DORAN JE4 Chevrolet #54 which won Sunday's race and leads the current Daytona Prototype team point standings, got in for a few laps too.
"It feels like the same car, but it's a little different than ours," he said. "This car feels lighter on its feet. The power is smooth and easier. The steering is better than ours; it's all a matter of set-up.
"It's hard to compare really," Barber added. "There is a lot more gear-shifting going on with this car than with ours. It runs through the gears so quickly it feels like you're really going fast, but it doesn't push you back in your seat as much as our car does. I was being very careful because I wanted to wreck this car even less than I do mine."
Most of the guest drivers had to get acclimated to flat-shifting. All were impressed with the car's downforce, its Toyota engine, its visibility and its driveability.
Among the comments from the other guest drivers were the following:
* "It has good power, good downforce and good brakes. The car is good to drive at the slow pace I was driving it. I think someone of my ability could be competitive in one of these. If anyone out there has the other half of a proper budget to race it, I'd like to hear from them!"
* "The car is really straight-forward to drive. It shifts real easy. I was hitting it with my finger and it shifted. Now that I've already spun one, I don't have to do that again. I let the tires lock up on me."
* "The car telegraphs what it's doing very well. There was a little oversteer under braking, but overall it was more comfortable to drive than what I expected. The visibility is great; in the car I'm used to racing you're basically driving blind because of the layout in the cockpit and the way the mirrors vibrate so much. This car has 10 times greater visibility than my car. It's really fun to drive. I've never been in a sequential-shift car before. It's a real nice car; I'm very impressed."
* "It was a great experience; a really cool deal. It's a great car and a lot of fun. I've never driven anything but production-based cars, so this was very different."
* "The view you have is great. You can see exactly how far away from the curbing you are and you can really see where you are on the track. I like the way you sit too, and I'm tall. The car is very direct and very fun to drive."
* "It's cool. It's nice to be back in something with some downforce again. I like the layout inside the car too. The power and the steering and the feel of it are nice. The brakes are phenomenal. I was just trying to take it easy, but I really liked it. I was surprised at how well it stuck."
* "I've never driven anything like this. I think the car drives well. It's a comfortable car. I like the visibility of it. It has really good brakes. I like the car very much and I could learn to drive it fast."
* "I don't know the track or the car so it was hard for me to go fast, but it's a great car and it's very fun to drive."
Only a limited number of DORAN JE4s can be produced before the 2004 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, which is only 16 weeks away. Anyone interested in purchasing one is urged to contact Kevin Doran at Doran Enterprises' headquarters in Lebanon, Ohio at (513) 336-0819 immediately.
For more information see www.lista.com, www.doranracing.com, www.grandamerican.com, www.driversroad.com and www.restartcommunications.com.