TRG: 2nd at Mont Tremblant Mont Tremblant, QC -- May 23, 2004 -- The ...
TRG: 2nd at Mont Tremblant
Mont Tremblant, QC -- May 23, 2004 -- The #66 F1 Air/Gleason Agency TRG Porsche overcame a first-hour punt by a prototype to chase the factory BMW M3 to a 2nd place finish in today's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series 6 Hours of Mont Tremblant. Drivers Ian James, RJ Valentine and Chris Gleason teamed to pressure both factory BMWs for the entirety of the race, but their stiffest competition may have come from their own team.
The #67 TRG Porsche had an eventful race, after starting from 4th position. Team owner Kevin Buckler qualified and started the race, and had a stellar drive. The team elected to have him double-stint, and he drove nearly two hours before handing over to Liz Halliday with the car in first position. Halliday immediately settled into a strong rhythm, dicing it up with the fastest GT cars on the track, and consistently drove her quickest times of the weekend during the race. After her stint, she pitted and turned the car over to Bohdan Kroczek, who also turned his fastest times the weekend during his first stint of the race. Unfortunately, an aggressive turn-in by an SGS-class Porsche destroyed #67's left front suspension upright. Kroczek limped the car around the track on three wheels, and the crew set to replacing the left front suspension, which they accomplished, losing just 11 laps. Bohdan soldiered on until the five-hour mark of the race, when he turned the car back to Liz Halliday, who drove the remaining hour and thirty minutes of the race, bringing the car home in eight position, good for the team's fourth consecutive top ten finish.
Team owner Kevin Buckler was complimentary of his team and crew. "It was a long week with all of our travel, and I'm proud of the whole team. The #66 drivers and crew were outstanding, and it's wonderful to see them up there on the podium again. In car #67, we had a bit of bad luck with the contact. I watched Liz progress each session and turn her fastest times of the weekend in the actual race, just like our last two races this season. She did a really fantastic job. My crew was amazing getting the car fixed and back into the race. Now, we'll put them back together and get ready for the 6 Hours of the Glen."
In the last hour of the race, Ian James had a nail-biting duel with the #21 BMW, which crashed hard while holding a four-lap lead. When the leader pitted for extensive repairs, James made up all four laps, but in the end a late full-course yellow flag preserved the BMW's win.
"I watched that car hit the wall hard," Ian said, "and it gave us a chance to win the race. The yellow flag proved too much, but it was a great weekend and a great race."
Ian, who on Saturday won the Grand-Am Cup race in his factory Lexus, suffered from leg cramps in both his stints in today's 6-hour race. "I got in the car and about halfway through my first stint I started to cramp up. My co-drivers worked their way up through the field, and good driving combined with good pit strategy to give us a nice result."
James' teammate Chris Gleason commented on the day's race. "I love this track," he said. "I've had lots of experience driving here, especially in the 80's, but a lot has changed. I feel that turn one here is one of the most interesting, challenging turns in all of motorsport, and it's a wonderful place -- feeling the steering get light through that turn is out of this world. We had great strategy today, and Lars [Giersing, Crew Chief] and his crew were absolutely flawless. Ian and RJ did an outstanding job racing today, and combined with my son's college graduation, I'd say this has been a pretty great weekend!"
"Everything's coming together for the #66 car," said driver RJ Valentine. "All of the extra driving time that TRG has been able to provide us through club racing and testing is paying off in high finishes for all of us, as we acclimate to the car and get to know each other better as teammates. It was a great weekend for us, and I'm especially thankful to the Speed Channel guys for coming down to F1 Boston with us on Thursday and helping us get some exposure for the Greater Massachusetts Spinal Cord Injury Association -- it's a fantastic organization and helping them is a tremendously positive experience."
The Racer's Group and sponsor Monster Cable rolled out a new hospitality program at the 6 Hours of Mont Tremblant this weekend, and were joined by 15 contest winners from Sony stores in the Montreal area. Monster Cable has developed a retail contest in which the stores which sell their products that deliver the highest sales increase send managers and associates to Grand-Am and ALMS races, and from initial reactions, the program will be a success.
Buckler explained, "We were happy to welcome the Sony Monster Cable contest winners to the race this weekend. We're in the midst of our third year of partnership with Monster, and we've found that they're a fun and enthusiastic group of folks to be with. At each race for the remainder of the year, including Le Mans in a couple of weeks, we'll incorporate different contest winners into our hospitality plans -- there's a lot of excitement in the program, and we're happy to be a part of it."
The Racer's Group Grand-Am team next races at the Sahlen's Sports Car Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, June 18-20, 2004.