nines AIM Autosport and Doncaster Racing will start ninth and ninth in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday. Mark Wilkins of Toronto drove the No. 61 Lexus-powered Riley Mk XI to ninth in the Daytona...
AIM Autosport and Doncaster Racing will start ninth and ninth in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday. Mark Wilkins of Toronto drove the No. 61 Lexus-powered Riley Mk XI to ninth in the Daytona Prototype class and his father Greg, also of Toronto, placed the No. 17 MineStar / Tim Hortons Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car ninth on the GT grid. Mark Wilkins is driving the Exchange Traded Gold sponsored car with Burt Frisselle of Lynchburg, Va. Greg Wilkins is co-driving the Doncaster GT car with Dave Lacey of Toronto.
Mark Wilkins had his hands full as the prototype car's power steering failed at the start of the qualifying session. He powered a quick time of one minute 15.753 seconds on the 2.3-mile track in just two laps of qualifying.
"I've never driven the car without power steering -- it's a workout and a half, especially with the load on the banking. A couple of times I had to lift out of it to avoid coasting up into the wall because I couldn't feed any more steering into the car," he said. "But we have a great car -- ninth is a testament to how good our car really is. In two laps, to be there is pretty remarkable. We definitely had a top-five car without that little glitch."
Greg Wilkins also had a challenging run to his lap of 1:22.250:
"We're fighting a little bit with the setup here," he said. "We made a big change from practice to qualifying. It was directionally a good change, but we just went too far. We went from a big oversteer to a big push [understeer]. We'll try to balance it out for the race. P9 [position nine] is okay for us, but it was a little sloppier than it should have been."
AIM Autosport is one of the few Rolex Series teams that uses spotters at every race. Brothers Brian and Burt Frisselle alternate races co-driving with Mark Wilkins, with whoever is not driving assigned to spotter duty. Their father, Brad, is chief spotter at every race.
"From a driver standpoint, especially on a track like this where you're running part of an oval, having a spotter is so essential," Burt Frisselle explained. "It so helpful to have an extra set of eyes that's just focused on protecting you. My dad's been doing it for me for a long time. I'm used to his style and I know I can trust the information. I think it's decreased the amount of incidents and accidents -- I've had very little contact in this series and I think part of that is due to spotters. On a track like this, where you can see every inch of the course, it's just so valuable. There's no little advantage that you don't want to have."