PORSCHES SET FOR HARD WORK SUNDAY AFTER LAGUNA ROLEX QUALIFYING; PORSCHES IN THE HUNT IN BOTH DP AND GT AT ROLEX GRAND-AM SERIES RACE SUNDAY AT LAGUNA SECA MONTEREY, Calif. - May 16 -- Despite being less than three-fourths of a single mile per...
PORSCHES SET FOR HARD WORK SUNDAY AFTER LAGUNA ROLEX QUALIFYING; PORSCHES IN THE HUNT IN BOTH DP AND GT AT ROLEX GRAND-AM SERIES RACE SUNDAY AT LAGUNA SECA
MONTEREY, Calif. - May 16 -- Despite being less than three-fourths of a single mile per hour and only a half a second slower, Romain Dumas (France) could only post the fifth best qualifying effort Saturday for the Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, race number four on the 2009 Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 calendar.
"We are close but not up front where we would like to be," Dumas said. "Fifth on the grid is not good here because turn one is not nice (very tight). This is not an easy place to pass."
"The front of the field is very close and Romain will need to be careful at the start," said Timo Bernhard (Germany), who will co-drive the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley with Dumas in Sunday's 2 hour, 45-minute race that will be broadcast live on SPEED TV from 4-7 pm EDT. Live timing and scoring, notes and results will be available on www.grand-am.com.
"One mistake could be hurtful, but if he has a good start and our pit stops go well, we could gain (time) there and that would help our position on the track. This race will be about timing (of pit stops) and not making mistakes. We are eager to do well."
Dumas had posted the fastest overall practice lap on his final lap of the 2. 238-mile Laguna Seca road course Saturday and was hopeful of earning his second straight Rolex pole.
"We were very confident with the car before qualifying and then we were sliding all over the place during qualifying," Dumas said. "We had no grip. There is a lot more in the car and I could not get it while sliding like that. The car was not as good as it was yesterday. We were first last night but we were not so happy with the car, the balance of the car. Something is missing. We will work on the car tonight and made some adjustments."
Dumas posted a qualifying lap of 1:20.493 (100.093 mph), compared to the pole winning lap of 1:19.874 (100.869 mph) posted by Memo Rojas (Mexico) in a Lexus Riley.
The Penske entry was the quickest of the three Porsche-powered Daytona Prototypes entered. Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ) qualified the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley he'll share with David Donohue
(Malvern, PA) 10th at 1:22.023 (98.226 mph) and JC France (Ormond Beach, FL) qualified the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley he'll co-drive with Joao Barbosa (Portugal) 14th at 1;23.138 (96.909 mph).
"We'll be up late tonight talking and working on the car," Law said. "Something is not right, and the Brumos crew and Porsche engineers will figure it out. We should be - and will be - closer to the front. Of course, the race is a lot different from qualifying and a lot of factors will determine where we finish. Our job is to react to situations and be in position to take advantage of every opportunity to move up."
In GT competition, the top Porsche is on the front row. Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) qualified the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry second and will start alongside GT pole winner Nic Ham (Evergreen, CO) in the ninth row Sunday.
"I am glad to be on the front (GT) row, "Keen said, noting that the GT cars start as a group about 20 seconds behind the last Daytona Prototype. "If I get a good start, I could be in the lead, and it will be tough to pass if the track gets dirty. This track was changed for motorcycles and the gravel traps are very deep. We'll have to be aware of the cautions, which could happen at any time when someone goes off. If you go off very far, you can't get back on. If you drop a wheel, you kick up a lot of dirt on the track.
"My Porsche was nearly perfect. I was fastest at one point in the qualifying session and he (Ham) barely nicked my best time to get the pole. That was disappointing, but I'm glad I'm up front."
Keen will co-drive with Dirk Werner (Germany) Sunday in the top qualifying of the eight Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars entered.