Homestead: Doran Racing preview

Bobbi and Gollin Looking for More Points at Homestead March 5 With Doran Racing's Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus LEBANON, Ohio, March 1 - After running as high as second and finishing fifth in the most grueling race on the Grand ...

Bobbi and Gollin Looking for More Points at Homestead March 5 With Doran Racing's Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus

LEBANON, Ohio, March 1 - After running as high as second and finishing fifth in the most grueling race on the Grand American Rolex Series schedule, the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway Feb. 5-6, one might think Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin's thoughts as the checkered fell would be all about the stresses of 24 hours of motorsports competition.

They weren't.

Both young men had to be tired. They could have been excused if their minds were on overload, filled with the impressions of driving one of 29 Daytona Prototypes in a star-studded 64-car field at one of America's greatest race tracks; the grueling punishment that the Doran Racing DORAN JE4 Lexus No. 77 and the other cars were put through; the fact that they ran in second or third for almost eight hours - or almost the entire last third of the race; the challenges of traffic; the lights, glare and shadows of the different lighting conditions they faced in 24 hours; the changing track conditions; tire wear and fuel consumption; the electrical problem that cropped up in the second half of the race; and similar subjects. The two young drivers, one of whom was making his first start ever at Daytona, also had to be pleased that they, co-driver Didier Theys and the rest of the Doran Racing team had persevered for a top-five finish in this very historic event, while their team's sister entry, the Doran Labonte Racing DORAN JE4 Pontiac No. 44, had also run strong and finished a solid ninth.

Although things like that were of course part of the overall experience, they weren't what either Bobbi or Gollin mentioned first in their post-race interviews.

What was?

Points.

Bobbi and Gollin are focused on the big picture, and their primary goal is to do well in the 2005 championship. They each have 26 points following the Rolex 24, and they want more.

"We have some points for the championship now, and this is very important," was the first thing Gollin said after climbing out of the gold Crown Royal Special Reserve No. 77 after finishing his first Rolex 24.

"The podium was in sight until the very end, but at least we got fifth-place points," Bobbi concurred.

Championships are also an integral part of the team's primary sponsor's marketing campaign, as Crown Royal encourages adults to "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly."

Both Bobbi and Gollin have won important and hard-fought championships in the past. Gollin was the 2004 FIA World GT champion, with Bobbi finishing second. Bobbi was the 2003 FIA World GT champion, with Gollin finishing second that year.

Counting points is nothing new for either of the two young Italians, although just about everything else in the Rolex series is. They are both very happy to be racing in America, and they'll try to accumulate even more points at the second of 14 races on the 2005 schedule when they visit Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. for the Grand Prix of Miami on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Homestead's Grand American race is part of a tripleheader. Sharing the card with the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series as well as the IRL's Menards Infiniti Pro Series, the Rolex race will be televised live on SPEED on Saturday from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Although most of the tracks will be brand-new to both Bobbi and Gollin at each race this year, they have both driven at Homestead before so that should help. They participated in a two-day test there in December.

"That gives them a little bit of help, and with the time they spent running in the Rolex 24 they're both starting to get more comfortable in the car," noted team owner Kevin Doran. "By Fontana [the race at California Speedway April 1-3] they should both know the car quite well."

Doran added that the problem with the car's electrical system or engine near the end of the Rolex 24 now appears to have been one faulty spark plug. "It's not usual for them to go bad, but that's what it looks like it was now," he explained. "The engine performed well; TRD [Toyota Racing Development] has good service, and gave us an engine that finished. It was a good run."

The entire team hopes for another good run at Homestead, a race it almost won last year with Jan Magnussen and Didier Theys behind the wheel. Magnussen was going for the lead with less than 10 laps to go last year when contact with another driver left him spun out in turn one. Earlier, Theys had qualified second for the race with a lap in 1:14.159 (111.652 mph).

Both Bobbi and Gollin like Florida, and plan to live in the Sunshine State while they're racing in America this year.

The team will have a different transporter at Homestead. A generator fire in its regular transporter occurred on the trip back to Ohio following the Rolex 24. The fire was extinguished quickly, but another transporter will be put into service for the Homestead trip.

For Saturday's race on Homestead's 2.3-mile infield road course, the team's first practice session is at 2:45 p.m. on Thursday. Additional practice sessions are slated for 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday before qualifying for the Daytona Prototype class occurs at 4:30 p.m. that day. On race day, Saturday, there is a warm-up session at 8:15 a.m. and an autograph session at 11 a.m. before the 250-mile/109-lap/two-hour-and-45-minute race begins at 3 p.m.

For more information please see the team's Web site at www.doranracing.com; Crown Royal's Web site at www.crownroyal.com; Bobbi's Web site at www.matteobobbi.com and Gollin's Web site at www.fabriziogollin.com.

Other interesting information can be found at www.grandamerican.com; www.speedtv.com; www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com and www.restartcommunications.com.

Doran Racing and Doran Designs, which produces the popular DORAN JE4 Daytona Prototype, are based in Lebanon, Ohio, near Cincinnati.

-dr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Jan Magnussen , Didier Theys , Matteo Bobbi , Kevin Doran
Teams Toyota Racing , Doran Racing