AFTER THREE MONTH BREAK, IT'S BACK-TO-BACK FOR PORSCHE GRAND-AM TEAMS IN NEW JERSEY ATLANTA - April 30 -- For Porsche customer teams in both the Daytona Prototype and GT classes for this weekend's Verizon Wireless 250 at New Jersey Motorsports...
AFTER THREE MONTH BREAK, IT'S BACK-TO-BACK FOR PORSCHE GRAND-AM TEAMS IN NEW JERSEY
ATLANTA - April 30 -- For Porsche customer teams in both the Daytona Prototype and GT classes for this weekend's Verizon Wireless 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Sunday's race could determine how the rest of the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car season might unfold in the championship points battles.
Practice begins at 8:40 a.m. tomorrow (Friday), with qualifying at 1:45 p.m. Saturday and the two-hour, 45-minute race taking the green flag at 1 p.m. Sunday. The live television coverage on SPEED TV will be from 1 p.m. to 4:00 p.m Eastern Daylight Time. Live timing and scoring, notes and results will be available on www.grand-am.com, with regular weekend updates also posted on www.twitter.com/RolexSeries.
For the Porsche Rileys in the DP class, a win at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January brought a rule change which included loss of the top-end sixth gear and additional weight, and Penske Racing's Timo Bernhard, who co-drives with fellow Porsche factory driver Romain Dumas, could feel the effects of the rule changes last weekend.
"In Virginia, we took off from the first row and were leading until we were thrown back in the field when Romain was handed a drive-through penalty," said Bernhard. "We went full bore to catch up but the technical handicaps put on us prevented us from making up lost time. With one endurance race and one sprint race with the new rules now finished, this third round just might be an indicator on whether we can remain competitive in the DP class."
Penske Racing - winners of the 2007 and 2008 American Le Mans Series with Bernhard and Dumas - will run the 510 hp Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley on the 2.25-mile circuit near Millville, New Jersey.
Brumos Racing fields two Porsche-powered Riley Daytona Prototypes. For the Brumos team, backed by one of the oldest and largest Porsche dealers in the country, based in Jacksonville, Florida, the season is running almost according to plan. After their Daytona victory, David Donohue and Darren Law brought home a podium result from Virginia International Raceway and are now eager to defend their championship points lead in New Jersey. They receive support from Joao Barbosa and JC France, who share driving duties in the cockpit of Brumos Racing's second Porsche Riley.
Over the winter, the facility worked on curbing and run-off areas, in addition to planting additional grass to alleviate the dust. Spectator amenities include doubling the grandstand seating and additional trolley service. Donohue is encouraged by the improvements at the track.
"They've done a lot of work," said David Donohue, who won the 2009 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. They've had a challenge because we were there late last summer and now we're back in early spring with the schedule change. But they've done the best they can in the given time frame."
Donohue/Law lead the Daytona Prototype point standings with 60 points, one more than Gurney and Jon Fogarty, co-drivers of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Porsche Riley. JC France and Joao Barbosa are third with 53 points. They are followed by defending Daytona Prototype co-champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, co-drivers of the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. Dumas and Bernhard are in sixth place in the points after their sixth and seventh place finishes in the first two events.
Porsche is also strongly represented in the production-based GT class, with seven 911 GT3 Cup Grand- Am racers lining up on the grid in New Jersey. Four of these sports cars from Weissach are run by the TRG squad, who took off into the 2009 season with a win at the Daytona 24 hour race. Farnbacher Loles Racing has entered two Porsches in the race as well.
TRG is the defending GT winner in New Jersey, with 2008 winners Andy Lally and Tim George Jr. driving in separate Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars this weekend. Lally, winner of the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona, will share the TRG No. 67 with Justin Marks. George, now a regular in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, returns to co-drive the No. 68 with New Jersey Motorsports Park principal RJ Valentine, who also shared that Rolex 24-winning ride in January. TRG also fields the No. 66 Porsche GT3 for Rolex 24 runners-up Spencer Pumpelly and Ted Ballou, who are third in the standings, three points out of the lead.
For Farnbacher Loles Racing, Eric Lux is teamed with Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler, who is the defending GT2 class champion in the American Le Mans Series, and multiple Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup champion, as well as SCCA World Challenge winner. The other Farnbacher Loles Porsche will be manned by Leh Keen and Dirk Werner. Werner was a little known in North America, but he really proved himself in the series in 2007 when he swept the Rolex Grand-Am series awards, winning the driver's championship, team championship and Rookie of the Year.