Mont Tremblant: Doran-Lista qualifying notes

Doran-Lista's Theys earns sixth pole Saturday at Mont-Tremblant as Birthday Gift for Lienhard Sr. MONT-TREMBLANT, Que., Sept. 14 - Didier Theys and the Doran-Lista team made Fredy Lienhard Sr.'s birthday as festive as possible by winning their...

Doran-Lista's Theys earns sixth pole Saturday at Mont-Tremblant as Birthday Gift for Lienhard Sr.

MONT-TREMBLANT, Que., Sept. 14 - Didier Theys and the Doran-Lista team made Fredy Lienhard Sr.'s birthday as festive as possible by winning their sixth pole position of the 2002 Grand Am Rolex Series season Saturday at Le Circuit Mont- Tremblant.

Theys steered the Doran-Lista Dallara Judd #27 around the 2.65-mile, 15-turn course at an average speed of 114.994 mph on his fourth lap to earn the pole. The next-closest competitor, Andy Wallace in the Dyson Crawford Judd #16, was 1.278 seconds slower at 113.249 mph. The other Sports Racing Prototype (SRP) car entered in the race, the Pegasus Lola Porsche, was third.

Theys will start tomorrow's six-hour race here and then be relieved by the father-son duo of Fredy Lienhard Sr. and Fredy Lienhard Jr., although the actual driving order hasn't been announced by team manager Kevin Doran. Lienhard Sr. is celebrating his 55th birthday today, and this event marks the first time that he and his son are competing together in a race.

Tomorrow's race will be televised live from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern on SPEED channel.

"I knew yesterday that our car was a second faster than the Crawford," Theys said after the qualifying session. "I knew that with new tires we would be there. The balance of the car is good and I have no complaints. It is a good, solid car and hopefully we'll be there at the end."

With qualifying over, a whole different strategy will be in order for tomorrow's race. One factor that will be part of the equation is that the Dyson team has two professional racers on its roster (Andy Wallace and James Weaver) along with rookie Chris Dyson, while the Doran team has Theys as the pro; one gentleman racer (Lienhard Sr.) and one rookie (Lienhard Jr.)

"Fredy Sr. is a good, solid gentleman racer and Fredy Jr. has a great deal of potential and has also been doing an excellent job, but neither are professional race car drivers," Theys said. "Maybe we won't be the fastest during the race, but we all know that the winning car isn't necessarily always the fastest car. We'll just have to see how the race develops regarding yellow flags and pit stops, and we'll just have to see how our strategy develops. We have a comfortable car to drive and that's very important for a six-hour race. We'll just have to try our best and see how things develop."

That said, Theys stressed that the team is going for the overall victory.

"This race is very important to us in trying to win the championship, and our goal is to win here," he said. "We lost a lot of points in the last four races, and we want to earn as many points as possible here. We have to do our best, that's all."

The Doran-Lista team, which is headquartered in Lebanon, Ohio, leads the SRP team standings and Theys, a native of Belgium who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., leads the SRP driver point standings.

This is the first Grand Am Rolex Series event ever at Mont-Tremblant and the first time Kevin Doran or any of his three drivers have ever seen the course.

"The track is very nice," Theys said. "I love it. It's a natural racetrack, with elevation changes and both right- and left-hand turns. It's a driver's race track, but the chassis needs to be right. It's a little like Mosport and a little like Brands Hatch, but to me it's most similar to the old Nurburgring. It's a fun track to drive. When the car is going well and you don't have to overdrive it, it's the most fun."

After the press conference Theys turned into a photographer at a little celebration at the Doran-Lista transporter. The team surprised Lienhard Sr. with champagne and an almond mocha cake featuring the #27 reproduced in icing to celebrate his birthday.

After thanking everyone, Lienhard Sr. noted that he's in better shape now that he is racing with the Doran-Lista team than he was before joining the group.

"I'm a better driver now because of what I've learned and because of the challenge of always trying to do our best, which is something that everyone on this team strives to do," Lienhard Sr. said. "I'm in better shape now; just ask my wife. We want to keep going in the future, and to continue to excel and grow. This race marks my first one driving with my son, which is very special. I never dreamed that when I reached 55 I'd be driving at this level, and doing so with my own son. It's really very special."

-dlr/lm-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Didier Theys , Fredy Lienhard , Kevin Doran , Chris Dyson