Bobbi and Gollin Finish 11th at Homestead in Doran Racing's Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus ...
Bobbi and Gollin Finish 11th at Homestead in Doran Racing's Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus #77
HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 5 - Doran Racing's Crown Royal Special Reserve DORAN JE4 Lexus finished eleventh in the Miami Grand Prix Rolex series race Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but everyone connected with the car was pleased with the quick lap times both Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin were able to set in the entry during different portions of the 109-lap contest.
Racing always has its ups and downs, a fact that was a little too clear for everyone on the team on Saturday. Less than a minute after Bobbi said the car was perfect near the end of the morning practice session, he radioed in that he suddenly had a problem with the engine. A broken valve spring was the culprit so the team changed engines prior to the race, forcing it to give up its second starting spot to begin the race on pit road in 22nd spot, at the end of the Daytona Prototype field.
Unfortunately that wasn't the only set-back the team had to deal with. On lap three Bobbi was overtaking Bob Ward in turn one but Ward didn't see him and both cars went off course. The Crown Royal car suffered bodywork and possibly suspension damage in the shunt.
A little later another car in front of Bobbi lost a big piece of bodywork. It flew backwards, landing on the right-front corner of the No. 77. The car's nosepiece was replaced after that incident.
Unfortunately those problems caused the entry to fall a lap down early, and though it soldiered on it was never able to make that lap back up. Still the team never gave up and the car actually ran very well the rest of the day, battling back from next to last to tenth place. It only slipped to 11th at the very end, finishing two laps behind the winner, the SunTrust No. 10 of Wayne Taylor and Max Angelellli.
Matteo Bobbi: "It was a chaotic race for us. We were involved in two incidents immediately and fell back, but then the car was very good and we set some very good lap times. It's a big shame we had the problems early because we had the speed to have a good result.
"For the first incident, I was overtaking a car. We were side by side, but he didn't see me and I spun in turn one. I think something might have been broken in our suspension from that point on.
"For the second incident, the car in front of me lost a very big piece of bodywork and it hit the right front of the car, cracking our bodywork. It happened on the banking."
Fabrizio Gollin: "My temperature was 99 before the race; I want to see what it is now! I was OK, but at the end I lost my concentration because of having the flu. I didn't take any risks for the last eight laps or so, because I knew I had nothing to gain and much to lose. The sun was very bad at the end of the race too.
"I'm happy because our car was fast; my times were quick. I stayed with Papis the whole last hour, even though we had a lot of understeer at the end.
"After the second stop Kevin changed something to make the car better. Matteo said the car was oversteering at the beginning and at the end it was understeering, but in the middle it was very good. It was not understeering too much to drive it though; it was OK. I pushed hard every lap up until the very end."
Kevin Doran: "The good news is that we had the speed today. We had a definite podium car today but we made some mistakes as a team that you can't get away with. In general I'm quite positive because we're fast. We're fast in the short runs, we're fast in the long runs, we're just fast.
"It's possible a suspension piece was broken in the first incident. For sure the alignment was off; the tires weren't in the right position exactly. But to run the lap times we ran after all that, overall it was positive."
The race was televised live on SPEED.
Another DORAN JE4, the Kodak EasyShare Pontiac, led 22 laps and finished sixth.
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, www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com, www.speedtv.com and www.restartcommunications.com.