DORAN JE4 Lexus ...
DORAN JE4 Lexus #77 Leads at Fontana But Is Involved in Racing Incident Later and Finishes 14th
FONTANA, Calif., April 3 - Fabrizio Gollin qualified second and was extremely competitive in Sunday's Ferrari Maserati 400 Rolex series race at California Speedway, even leading lap 13. Unfortunately a bit later, on lap 34, he was involved in a racing incident which caused bodywork damage to the Doran Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus.
The Doran Racing pit crew quickly exchanged the car's nose, made make-shift repairs and got the car back out on the track. The car's aerodynamics were compromised due to the incident, but Gollin and his teammate, Matteo Bobbi, were still able to finish the two-hour-and-45-minute race, ending up in 14th place at the checkered.
Gollin was one of six drivers to lead the 86-lap race. The competition was so stiff that at 0.096 of a second, the margin of victory was a series record. Although Gollin was driving conservatively and trying to save the car and its Hoosier tires during his stint so Bobbi would have something for the end of the race, he still set the eighth-fastest lap of the race.
Gollin ran in second place from lap one until he took the lead from the Krohn Racing/TRG No. 66 on a restart on lap 13 at the start-finish line. He slipped to third on the next lap, and ran comfortably in that spot until he pitted for fuel and four fresh tires under a full-course caution on lap 20. That dropped the team to 12th, but by lap 30 Gollin was back in the top 10.
He had some minor contact on the right side with another driver at that point, but the car continued unabated. There was a yellow for debris in turns one and two from lap 32 until lap 34, and on the restart the No. 77 was part of a pack of cars that went four-abreast as they crossed the start-finish line.
Space ran out in turn one. Gollin was hit in the right-rear by another driver, a car spun right in front of him, and then he hit at least one other car in the melee.
"One car hit me in the back and then I hit somebody else; I don't even know who it was" Gollin said later. "It destroyed the bodywork, and the car was difficult to drive from that point on."
The entry dropped to 31st at that point, but it was up to the low twenties on the scoreboard when Gollin pitted and Bobbi got in the car under a full-course caution on lap 48. Besides the driver change, the car received four sticker tires and fuel and a gurney adjustment was made at that point.
Bobbi did the best he could with the car he had, and he was up to 15th by lap 62 and 14th by lap 76, which is as high as he got before time ran out in the 86-lap race.
The other two DORAN JE4s finished eighth (Kodak EasyShare Pontiac) and 31st (rx.com BMW), but the latter led 18 laps.
Fabrizio Gollin: "Someone hit me in the right rear in turn one, and then I hit somebody else. I don't know who all was involved. One car touched me and afterwards I touched other cars; one spun right in front of me. I was in the middle of the accident, with nowhere to go. Cars were all around me.
"I really don't understand how it happened. I stayed to the right-hand side because I thought that would be safer. You want to be careful.
"Before that the car was very good. We could race with everybody.
"We have been improving every race. Now we can overtake the other competitors, but in a situation like that there isn't much you can do."
Matteo Bobbi: "The car was very hard to drive after the accident. The aerodynamics were not good and we had a big understeer, but the good news is that we were still fast. Our Lexus engine was very good.
"I just tried to get it home.
"It was a very big shame. Now we are strong in qualifying, strong in the race and strong with our driver changes, and every race the team works better with us.
"We concentrated and did our best. I don't know what else we can do. It was just a shame today."
For more information, please see www.doranracing.com and www.crownroyal.com. Bobbi's Web site is at www.matteobobbi.com and Gollin's is at www.fabriziogollin.com.
Other interesting information can be found at www.grandamerican.com, ww w.californiaspeedway.com, www.speedtv.com and www.restartcommunications.com.