Hotly-Contested Rolex Series Championship Battle Moves North of the Border DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 20, 2004) - With three different winners in the first three races and a fourth team leading the championship standings at the one-quarter...
Hotly-Contested Rolex Series Championship Battle Moves North of the Border
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 20, 2004) - With three different winners in the first three races and a fourth team leading the championship standings at the one-quarter distance in the 2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series chase, the close title battle moves into Canada this weekend for the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant (SPEED Channel, 11 a.m. ET).
While the Kodak Bell Motorsports No. 54 Pontiac Doran driven by Forest Barber, Terry Borcheller, Andy Pilgrim and Christian Fittipaldi; the CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports No. 2 Pontiac Crawford driven by Andy Wallace and Milka Duno, and the SunTrust Racing No. 10 Pontiac Riley piloted by Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli have all visited victory circle through the first three races of the '04 season, all of these teams find themselves looking up to the Rx.com/G&W Motorsports No. 81 BMW Doran and the pairing of Cort Wagner and Kelly Collins heading into Mont-Tremblant. The points leaders will be joined this weekend by G&W Motorsports regular, Brent Martini.
Wagner and Collins found their way to the head of the points table on the strength of a second place performance in the Grand Prix of Miami on February 28 and a third place showing at the Food City 250 in Phoenix last month, and share the championship lead with 90 points apiece. However, the G&W duo cannot rest on their laurels in this weekend's six-hour marathon, as the top 10 drivers are within a mere 14 points of their lead after three of 12 races.
Angelelli and Taylor lurk just three points out of the championship lead, with Wallace sitting fifth in points, six points in arrears of the leaders. Scott Pruett and Max Papis, who share driving duties in the CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 Lexus Riley, are sixth in the championship, just three behind Wallace and nine out of the lead, and Barber and Borcheller - the defending Rolex Series Daytona Prototype champ - are just one point back of the Ganassi duo. Duno holds down the 10th spot in the title chase with 76 points, 14 behind the leaders.
While the overall championship chase has been up for grabs, the same can be said for all three of the previous races thus far in '04. The Rolex 24 At Daytona - which opened the season - came down to the final minutes before a victor was decided.
With NASCAR Nextel Cup star Tony Stewart desperately trying to nurse the damaged No. 2 CITGO Crawford to the finish, the No. 54 Pontiac Doran was in hot pursuit. When the rear suspension on Stewart's machine finally gave up within 20 minutes of the checkered flag, the No. 54 took the prestigious victory.
In Homestead, Max Papis in the No. 01 and Jan Magnussen in the Doran-Lista Racing No. 27 Lexus Doran literally battled door-to-door for the lead. When both drivers slid off-course in Turn 1, the door was opened for Wallace and Duno, who pounced on the opportunity, and brought their CITGO machine home to victory just 1.9 seconds ahead of the No. 81 of Wagner and Collins.
In the most recent Rolex Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, Taylor and Angelelli played their pit strategy to perfection to take the lead from Papis and Pruett, and the No. 10 Pontiac Riley held off the vaunted No. 01 Lexus Riley by a scant 2.757 seconds for the win. It was the first Grand American victory for Taylor, Angelelli and the Riley chassis.
Through the first three races, nobody has been able to match the qualifying pace of the No. 01, as Pruett and Papis have started every race thus far in '04 from the pole position. However, the team heads to the picturesque 2.65-mile Quebec road circuit this weekend still looking for its first win.
Any of the aforementioned race cars rate among the favorites this weekend by virtue of their performances to date. However, a stout field of 17 Daytona Prototypes will take the green flag on Sunday and with six hours of high-speed running ahead, any of them could emerge victorious.
Last year, the Red Bull Brumos Racing No. 58 Porsche Fabcar in the hands of Mike Borkowski, Sascha Maassen and David Donohue claimed the Canadian win. This year, Donohue will be sharing the No. 58 with Maassen and Darren Law, while Borkowski will co-drive the Cegwa Sport No. 3 Lexus Fabcar with Darius Grala and John Lloyd.
Based on last year's performances by Donohue, Maassen and Borkowski at Mont-Tremblant, both the No. 58 and No. 3 machine bear watching this weekend, as well as the Brumos Racing No. 59 Porsche Fabcar of Hurley Haywood, JC France and Lucas Luhr.
Further bolstering the Daytona Prototype field will be the Howard-Boss Motorsports No. 4 Pontiac Crawford in the hands of Butch Leitzinger, Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Paul Edwards; the Essex Racing No. 5 Ford Multimatic of Joe and Justin Pruskowski and Canadian Ross Bentley; the Michael Shank Racing No. 6 Lexus Doran of Oswaldo Negri and Burt Frisselle; the Southard Motorsports No. 7 BMW Fabcar with Shane Lewis, Vic Rice and Steve Southard sharing the cockpit; the Sprit of Daytona Racing No. 09 Pontiac Crawford of Stephan Gregoire and Doug Goad; the Silverstone Racing Services No. 39 Pontiac Crawford driven by Chris Hall, Larry Huang, and Andrew Davis; and the G&W Motorsports No. 80 BMW Picchio with a trio of Quebecois drivers in Hugo Guenette, Jacques Guenette Jr. and Philippe Letourneau.
Not to be outdone by their Daytona Prototype brethren, the chase for the GT title is just as tight. Rolex 24 winner Mike Fitzgerald in the Orbit Racing No. 44 Porsche GT3 RS leads the standings with 87 markers, just three points ahead of Kevin Buckler in The Racer's Group No. 66 Porsche GT3 RS and Boris Said in the Prototype Technology Group No. 21 BMW M3. Said and his driving partner, Bill Auberlen have finished first in the GT class in each of the past two events. Auberlen currently stands fourth in the GT championship, three points behind Said and Buckler, and six out of the lead, while the The Racer's Group No. 67 trio of Chris Gleason, Ian James and RJ Valentine occupy fifth on the points table, 10 points in arrears of Fitzgerald.
In Super Grand Sport (SGS), TPC Racing No. 36 Porsche GT3 Cup co-drivers Michael Levitas and Randy Pobst - who won Round 3 in Phoenix - lead the championship standings with 99 points and a field of 12 SGS cars into Mont-Tremblant. This weekend's SGS field also features local favorites and Rolex 24 SGS winners Jean-Francois Dumoulin of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec and Toronto's Robert Julien in the Doncaster Racing No. 91 Porsche GT3 Cup, and the Powell Motorsport No. 07 Corvette of Montreal natives Bertrand Godin, Normand Guindon and Marc-Antoine Camirand. Last year, Dumoulin took the overall Grand-Am Cup win at Mont-Tremblant, and is looking to win his third championship in as many years after taking the Grand-Am Cup ST I title in 2002 and the '03 Grand-Am Cup GS 1 crown.
Grand-Am Cup will headline Saturday's activities at the track with a 250-mile race beginning at 2 p.m. ET. TheRaceSite.com Racing No. 44 Porsche 996 driver Craig Stanton and Powell Motorsports No. 11 Cadillac CTS-V pilot Borcheller share the Grand Sport (GS) championship lead with 105 points; and Turner Motorsport No. 95 BMW 330i drivers Don Salama and Will Turner heading up the Sport Touring (ST) division with 92 points.
The weekend schedule at Mont-Tremblant gets underway for the Rolex Sports Car Series on Friday with the GT and SGS classes on-course for their first practice session beginning at 9:35 a.m. ET, followed by an all-class session from 10-11 a.m. and a 30-minute Daytona Prototype practice session beginning at 11 a.m. The Grand-Am Cup machines see their first track activity beginning at 1:30 p.m. for a 60-minute practice session, followed by another 40-minute Rolex Series all skate at 2:40 p.m. and Friday's action draws to a close with another Grand-Am Cup practice from 3:30 - 4:25 p.m.
Saturday's activity calls for a 45-minute Grand-Am Cup practice session beginning at 9 a.m., with Rolex Series practice from 9:55 - 10:50 a.m. The focus then shits to qualifying, with the Grand-Am Cup ST cars on-track from 11 - 11:15 am., followed by the Grand-Am Cup GS cars from 11:20 - 11:35 a.m. At 1:05 p.m., the Rolex Series GT and SGS cars have their 15-minute qualifying session, with Daytona Prototype qualifying from 1:30 - 1:45 p.m. Saturday's activity draws to a close with the Grand-Am Cup Mont-Tremblant 250 beginning at 2 p.m. The Mont-Tremblant 250 is subject to a three-hour time limit.
Round 4 of the 12-race 2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant takes the green flag at 11 a.m. ET and the first two hours of the race will be televised live on SPEED Channel. After a one-hour break, the network resumes coverage from Mont-Tremblant again at 2 p.m. ET through the race's conclusion. More news and information, including Zippo Live Timing & Scoring for every session, is available via the official web site of Grand American, www.grandamerican.com.