Laguna Seca: Memo Gidley race report

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE FAST KIND - A `CHARACTER-BUILDING WEEKEND' FOR DORAN RACING IN THE RUM BUM 250 AT LAGUNA SECA Lebanon, OH (May 20, 2008) - After scoring back-to-back top-10 finishes in the two previous events at Mexico City and VIR,...


Lebanon, OH (May 20, 2008) - After scoring back-to-back top-10 finishes in the two previous events at Mexico City and VIR, Doran Racing had one of those `character-building weekends' at the Grand-Am Rum 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The #77 Doran Racing Kodak Doran/Dallara Ford of Memo Gidley and Brad Jaeger qualified 13th on the grid but suffered suspension and half-shaft damage during on-track contact with another car and was relegated to a 34th-place finish, 27 laps down on the leaders. The #47 Doran Racing BSI/CDOC/Anasten Plus Ford Dallara co-driven by Burt Friselle and Garbrie Gardel qualified 12th but sustained damage to the cooling system that required half an hour in the pits to repair and ultimately finished 36th.

"This weekend we had the best car we've had so far this season with top-5 times in practice and I felt sure we were headed for a podium finish," said Gidley, who began his career at Laguna Seca and has raced both Indy Cars and prototypes at the legendary track. "I was racing hard with the #99 of Gurney and Fogarty when he slid wide and I made a move to pass. He came back on the track and we hit, which broke the suspension and half-shaft on our car. Despite the results, I'm confident that the Doran team is making progress because we're consistently one of the fastest cars on the track. The next race is at Watkins Glen where the Doran team has typically been very strong, and I think we'll be very competitive."

Gidley, the very talented and widely respected American driver who was born in La Paz, Mexico and now makes his home in Novato, California, has made a name for himself as one of the most committed drivers in the paddock, driving and winning in everything from karts to Indy Cars and stock cars to prototypes.

Gidley's co-driver, Brad Jaeger, is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and recent graduate of Vanderbilt University where he was a member of their Formula SAE team. His racing resume includes karting, Sports 2000, Skip Barber, F2000, Star Mazda and the Indy Pro Series. He co-drove his first prototype race for the Doran team in the 2007 season finale at Miller Motorsport Park. He qualified the duo's Doran Racing entry 13th on the grid for Round Four at Laguna Seca, and feels that the team is taking a step forward with each race.

"Its too bad the way it worked out because we definitely had the speed and it felt like it could have been a big weekend for us," said Jaeger. "And it's nothing really but just plain bad luck; and it always seems to be the left rear corner. We had to replace almost exactly the same parts at Laguna that we did at Homestead. The car is new to us, so there's going to be a learning curve, but there's no doubt in my mind that the team is moving in the right direction. And all the aerodynamic development work that Dallara has done in their wind tunnel worked at Laguna and will make the car even more competitive at The Glen."

Doran Racing's second entry, the #47 BSI/CDOC/Anasten Plus Ford Dallara, coming off an 8th-place finish at VIR, was poised for another step up the intensely competitive Grand-Am ladder at Laguna Seca, a track where co-driver Burt Frisselle has run more races over the years than any other track.

"We started out great in practice with a very quick car, but in the final practice session we had a problem that resulted in damage to the car," says Frisselle. "The Doran Racing crew did a magnificent job getting it back together for the race, but then we had another incident in the race that damaged the cooling system and cost us about half an hour in the pits. With a good finish out of reach, we decided to use the rest of the race as a test session and got some really useful data that will help us be more competitive in the next race at Watkins Glen."

Frisselle has been racing Daytona Prototypes in the Rolex Series since 2004, including a podium finish in his first-ever start in the series. He has scored top-10 and top-5 finishes in each of his four seasons of Rolex competition, including a 5th in his first run in the Rolex 24, in 2007.

His co-driver, Gabriele Gardel, is a Swiss racer who began his career in open-wheel, including F3 and F3000, but switched to sports cars in 2004 and was the 2005 FIA GT Champion and 2006 LeMans Series GT1 Champion. He made his Rolex Sports Car Series debut in the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"It was a pity for the Doran team the way the weekend went because we had a fast car; I made a mistake during the last practice session, but sometimes in racing things like this happen," said Gardel. "After the team got the car fixed from the practice crash, we had a very good start to the race and moved up to about 8th position very quickly. But we were having a problem with the brake balance in the car, sometimes the fronts would lock, sometimes the rear, and it made driving very difficult. Because of this I spun during the race and after the second re-start unfortunately the Brumos Porsche hit me from behind. The Daytona Prototype class is really aggressive and the cars are strong so usually you can hit and make just cosmetic damage, but this was more serious and it took a lot of time in the pits to fix. When we went back out we used the time to find the brake problem and to experiment with new parts, so I think we will be strong at Watkins ! Glen. This was another time that the Doran team showed how good they are by giving us a really competitive car and I want to thank them for the great job they did repairing the car and getting us back on track."

The two cars the Doran Racing team will field at Laguna Seca look the same, but are different underneath. The #47 car is all-Dallara, while the #77 car is a Doran chassis fitted with Dallara bodywork featuring enhanced aerodynamics and increased downforce. Both cars are powered by 500 horsepower Roush-Yates Ford V-8 engines.

-credit: Memo Gidley

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Memo Gidley , Burt Frisselle , Brad Jaeger , Gabriele Gardel
Teams Doran Racing