Mont Tremblant: Doran-Lista race notes

Doran-Lista trounces the competition with the largest margin of victory in Grand-Am history Sunday at Mont-Tremblant. MONT-TREMBLANT, Que., Sept. 15 - Doran-Lista Racing of Lebanon, Ohio recorded the largest margin of victory in Grand Am Rolex...

Doran-Lista trounces the competition with the largest margin of victory in Grand-Am history Sunday at Mont-Tremblant.

MONT-TREMBLANT, Que., Sept. 15 - Doran-Lista Racing of Lebanon, Ohio recorded the largest margin of victory in Grand Am Rolex Series history when Fredy Lienhard Sr. crossed the finish line with a 13-lap lead Sunday in the Six Hours of Mont-Tremblant at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant.

Lienhard Sr., who celebrated his 55th birthday Saturday, was driving with his 22-year-old son as one of his teammates for the first time at this event. Although endurance sports car legend Didier Theys won the pole for the team and also did a masterful job, it was Fredy Lienhard Jr. who set the fastest lap of the race, which bodes well for the team's future. The rookie's fastest lap in the Doran-Lista Dallara Judd #27 was run a little after 3 p.m. when the team's 145th lap was recorded at an average speed of 113.300 mph, j ust a tad slower than the 114.994 mph lap Theys ran to earn the pole.

With the victory the Doran-Lista team increased the lead it has held all season in the Sports Racing Prototype (SRP) class, as it now unofficially has a five-point lead over the Dyson #16 team. Theys has also held the SRP driver point lead all season and now he has a nine-point advantage over Chris Dyson, also unofficially, going into the season finale at Daytona Nov. 10. A total of 35 points are up for grabs in both of those categories, guaranteeing that the Daytona race will be a nail-biter.

Although the Dyson team of Andy Wallace, James Weaver and Chris Dyson qualified second and did lead for awhile, it ended up second in class and seventh overall after Dyson ran off course and hit a tire wall at 1:34 p.m. on lap 97. After the car was pulled out of the tire barrier by a tow truck Dyson was able to make his way back to the pits, but the Crawford required extensive repairs and was never again a factor in the race.

At the finish four GT entries and an AGT car were sandwiched between the top two SRP cars. The Ferrari of Bill Auberlen and Cort Wager finished second overall, with the Porsche of Cass Whitehead, Jeffry Giangrande and B.J. Zacharias third.

The Doran-Lista team only had one close call all day, which occurred around 12:25 p.m. when the Racers Group Porsche #66 hit Theys in the left rear on the straightaway after turn one. Theys didn't miss a beat, but the slight bodywork damage caused the transponder to fall off somewhere on the course. Cornerworkers found it, and after the race they were reportedly on their way to return it. That was much appreciated by the Doran-Lista team, who handed over a stack of Lista T-shirts and caps as a "thank you" for the workers returning the transponder, which costs approximately $1,000 to replace.

Other than the incident with the Porsche there were no other scares for the Doran-Lista team.

"The race was pretty non-eventful for us, which was great," team manager Kevin Doran said. "We overflowed the oil tank once and we increased the gurney slightly twice; they were both very small changes. Our Goodyear Eagles were fantastic this weekend; the tire wear was great. They had good grip and good traction.

"The Dallara-Judd combination is a fantastic car," Doran continued. "I think we're still not using the car to its full potential, but we're closer to where I think the car should be. We really had no glitches at all this weekend."

"We had no trouble at all," Theys added. "The car was perfect and so were our pit stops. Now we have a little bit thicker cushion in the points; I think that even if the Dyson car wins at Daytona, we'll just have to finish in the top three to win the championship. We know our car is going to be good at Daytona, so I'm going there with confidence."

"Everybody did a superb job," said Lienhard Sr. "We have the best team in the world. The car can only be perfect if the team does a perfect job. Six hours is a long time for a race, and lots of things can go wrong."

Lienhard Sr. wouldn't go so far as to say that this birthday was his best ever, but he said it was very, very good.

"Last year my birthday was very sad because it was close to the tragedies of Sept. 11, but this one is a good one, that's for sure," he said. As an indication of the respect that the team and his fellow competitors have for Lienhard Sr., they even sang "Happy Birthday" to him when he was on the victory lane podium.

Lienhard Jr. echoed his father's comments. "When you're not under pressure you don't have to take chances," he noted. "You can just drive, and it's a lot of fun.

"The atmosphere on the team is great and we didn't miss a beat," he added. "The whole weekend was a lot of fun."

As further indications that the weekend belonged to the Doran-Lista team, the event poster featured its car. Even at the start, all the sign holders on the grid were affiliated with its primary sponsor, Lista, the world-wide leader in modular storage systems, in some way.

Theys took the first stint and he already had a nine-second lead by the end of the first 30 minutes. He made his first pit stop under a full-course yellow at 11:44 a.m. for four fresh Goodyears, fuel and a slight gurney adjustment. That helped, and by the end of the first hour Theys was already a minute ahead of the Dyson Crawford.

The incident with the Porsche occurred a little before Lienhard Sr. relieved Theys on the team's second pit stop, which occurred at 12:41 p.m. and only took 34.845 seconds.

At that point the Dyson Crawford did get into the lead at 1:12 p.m. The Doran-Lista team's third pit stop occurred around 1:28 p.m. when Lienhard Jr. took over for his father and the crew added fuel and replaced the tires and the transponder.

Shortly after that Dyson hit the tire wall and the Doran-Lista #27 got the lead back. It was never again headed and it was still running strong when Lienhard Jr. set the fastest lap of the race a little after 3 p.m. Since this was the Grand Am Rolex Series' first appearance at this track, all of those clockings are automatic track records.

Theys got back in the car at 3:10 p.m. and he continued to pad the lead. Doran put Lienhard Sr. in the car in the last half-hour to take the checkered and end the team's perfect weekend with the 13-lap margin of victory.


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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , James Weaver , Didier Theys , Fredy Lienhard , Bill Auberlen , Cass Whitehead , Kevin Doran , Chris Dyson