Mont-Tremblant: Hot shoes adjusting to new rides

MONT-TREMBLANT, Quebec (September 19, 2003) -- The list of star drivers has expanded this weekend at Mont-Tremblant with several top Grand American Rolex Sport Car Series teams adding a third driver to contest the grueling six-hour enduro. Sascha...

MONT-TREMBLANT, Quebec (September 19, 2003) -- The list of star drivers has expanded this weekend at Mont-Tremblant with several top Grand American Rolex Sport Car Series teams adding a third driver to contest the grueling six-hour enduro. Sascha Maassen, Max Papis and Andy Pilgrim are among the international stars getting their first experience behind the wheel of a Daytona Prototype this weekend. Most are also visiting Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant for the first time in their careers.

With the points chase in the Daytona Prototypes class nearly a dead heat among the top three teams, a lot is at stake this weekend and each team is hoping that their guest drivers will give them edge to finish up in front on Sunday.

"I'm really impressed. The car is giving a great performance. And I'm happy, as well, to be on this track. It's a beautiful track, but very, very challenging," said Porsche factory driver Sascha Maassen, who will be helping out points leaders David Donohue and Mike Borkowski in the No. 58 Red Bull Porsche FABCAR Daytona Prototype of Brumos Racing this weekend. "I like the car. It handles good. It has more power than I'm used to and more grip, so my first impression is good."

Maassen, who is known for his worldwide accomplishments at the wheel of a GT-class Porsche, was pleased with the new Daytona Prototype class. "The main thing is that you have a lot of competition. If other people have the same car, then you have a full grid, and that is the important thing. Even if you have a go-kart, and you have a full grid with good drivers and a good show, it's exciting. But with this car, of course, it is better. The more power you have, the better it is," he remarked.

Champ car veteran Max Papis is also lending his driving skills to the Brumos Racing team during the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant. The Italian racer is partnering with Hurley Haywood and J.C. France in the No. 59 Porsche Daytona Prototype, which is currently third in the point standings.

"I have only gotten a few laps so far. I really need to get some more laps. I really love the Porsche, but it's pretty tough to learn the track and learn the car with a new team," noted Papis. "I'm really glad I'm here. The track is beautiful. The cars sound great. I'm looking forward to a really great weekend."

While this weekend's race will be the first for GM factory Corvette driver Andy Pilgrim in the Bell Motorsports No. 54 Chevy Doran JE4 Daytona Prototype, he already turned several laps at the wheel of the car. Pilgrim tested the Chevy Daytona Prototype at Daytona International Speedway in July and Mosport International Raceway last week.

"I haven't been here before, so I'm learning the track and car still," remarked Pilgrim. "I like the car a lot. It's a great piece. It's very balanced. As a driver, working with the engineers and Jim (Bell), when you make a change, the car responds to the change and that's really the sign of a good design. It's a really nice time to drive. I am very much enjoying it."

Also making his first appearance at the wheel of a Daytona Prototype this weekend is Fredy Lienhard Sr., who has teamed with Bill Auberlen and Didier Theys in the Doran-Lista Racing No. 27 Toyota Doran JE4. Lienhard was scheduled to make his Daytona Prototype debut along with the car at the Bully Hill Vineyards 250 in August, but illness kept him home and Auberlen subbed for him.

Daytona Prototype teams are not the only ones bringing in reinforcements for this weekend's endurance race. Joao Barbosa has joined Heritage Motorsports drivers Tommy Riggins and Dave Machavern this weekend in the GTS points leading No. 48 Mustang. "It's a very, very different car. I had to get used to the driving style, and talking with Tommy yesterday, he gave me some tips that helped a lot," said Barbosa, who raced against the Mustang in a Mosler MT900R for the first half of the season before his team's funding dried up. "The car is very fast. It has power, and the handling is very good. It's a totally different driving style than what I'm used to, but I think I'm getting there slowly."

Qualifying for the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant will get underway on Saturday at 12:25 p.m. The green flag will fall on the six-hour enduro at 11 a.m. on Sunday. SPEED Channel will broadcast the start and finish of the race live. Opening coverage will begin at 11 a.m. ET and continue until 1 p.m. ET. SPEED Channel will return to the race at 3 p.m. ET and follow it through to the checkered flag at 5 p.m.

Zippo Live Timing & Scoring is available for all of the practice and qualifying sessions, as well as the races, on the official Grand American website - www.grandamerican.com.

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Max Papis , Andy Pilgrim , Fredy Lienhard , Bill Auberlen , Sascha Maassen , Hurley Haywood , David Donohue , Joao Barbosa , Tommy Riggins , Mike Borkowski , J.C. Fra