Farnbacher Loles takes first and third at Thunderbolt Raceway! Starting from the fifth and seventh spots on the grid, the Farnbacher Loles Racing Team was looking to improve on those positions for round three of the Grand-Am Rolex Series at ...
Farnbacher Loles takes first and third at Thunderbolt Raceway!
Starting from the fifth and seventh spots on the grid, the Farnbacher Loles Racing Team was looking to improve on those positions for round three of the Grand-Am Rolex Series at Thunderbolt Raceway in Millville, NJ. The race started in very wet conditions as rain fell throughout the morning and was coming down heavily at the start. The rain had an immediate impact as two DP competitors came together at the start bringing out a full course caution.
While some GT Class cars chose to make a pit stop during the 12-minute caution period, both Farnbacher Loles cars stayed out, moving them to the front of the GT field and in front of a number of DP cars as well.
After the restart. Leh Keen held the top spot in the #87 Porsche GT3 Cup followed closely by Eric Lux in the #86. Both drivers showed their prowess in the wet by turning class-leading times. A second early caution period caused a short delay. On the restart, both cars were hit with stop-and-go penalties for jumping the restart. After the stops, Keen dropped to second while Lux dropped to seventh.
At the 45-minute mark, a yellow bunched up the field, and Leh took over the GT Class lead. After the ensuing lengthy caution, Eric took over the second spot behind Leh. Keen's 1:40.363 was the fastest lap of the race to that point, while Eric's 1:41.970 was second fastest in GT. At the 1:20 minute mark, both cars stopped for driver changes during a caution period. Dirk Werner took over for Leh Keen while Bryan Sellers took over for Eric Lux.
At the restart, Werner was in seventh with Sellers in eighth. Werner quickly moved up to fourth with Sellers right behind in fifth. Werner set a new fast race lap of 1:37.838 to move into third, with Sellers in fifth. At the 1:49 mark, Dirk passed Andy Lally to take over the second spot with Sellers making a pass for fourth soon after. Werner again sets fast lap, at 1:37.325.
With 33 minutes to go, Dirk Werner took over the lead, passing Spencer Pumpelly. Sellers was also on the move, closing the gap to third. With 25 minutes left in the race, Sellers was only 1 second behind Andy Lally. Werner meanwhile had opened a 14 second lead over the second place car.
As the race wound down, Sellers was right on Lally's bumper lap after lap. With six laps to go, Sellers got a run on the front straight and out-braked the TRG car into turn one. Bryan made the pass and made it stick. The Farnbacher Loles cars now ran first and third and would hold those positions through to the checkered flag.
After the race, the drivers cherished the podium celebration. "Our team is great in the rain," said Leh Keen. "The atmosphere in the pits was really fantastic, because we all knew we had a car that could win." Dirk Werner was equally enthusiastic, "The conditions and visibility were terrible but the car was great. Once I got by Spencer for the lead, I was able to pull away. The team really deserves this win."
The #86 drivers also had reason to cheer. "The team gave us such a great car," said Eric Lux. "It handled really well in the wet conditions. And the tires were good and consistent throughout my entire stint. I have to thank Greg Loles and the entire Farnbacher Loles team for this finish." Team newcomer Bryan Sellers was also happy with the finish. "This team did such a fantastic job. It says so much about the preparation that we took two of the top three spots including the win."
Team principal Gregory Loles was proud of his team's effort. "These guys showed what this team is made of today. In very difficult conditions, our guys shined. The drivers were amazing and the crew did a phenomenal job on set-up and pit stops. But we have to be realistic under dry conditions the Porsche has no chance to win against the Pontiacs and Mazdas. Hopefully adjustments will come that will allow the marques to all compete equally."