LEXUS PUTS TWO ON THE PODIUM AT MONT-TREMBLANT TORRANCE, Calif. (May 21, 2005) -- Battling rain and treacherous conditions, both Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus-Riley entries fought their way onto the podium as Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner teamed...
LEXUS PUTS TWO ON THE PODIUM AT MONT-TREMBLANT
TORRANCE, Calif. (May 21, 2005) -- Battling rain and treacherous conditions, both Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus-Riley entries fought their way onto the podium as Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner teamed to finish second, while Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz placed third at the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series event on Saturday.
Starting from the pole, Pruett immediately moved the #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley into the lead amidst a heavy rain. He maintained the top spot until Johansson took over the point position on Lap 22. The New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley driver stayed in front until sliding off the wet track on Lap 39. Johansson recovered quickly and re-entered the track in fourth.
The #77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Lexus-Doran of Fabrizio Gollin and Matteo Bobbi also took a turn at the front of the pack. The Doran Racing drivers took the lead on Lap 77 and went on to open up a 21-second lead, finally giving up the lead on Lap 92 shortly before pitting. Unfortunately, after their pit stop, the #77 spun off track on Lap 98 resulting in a heavily-damaged right rear which would force them to retire prematurely with a 17th-place finish.
An intense three-car battle with 50 laps remaining between Johansson, Pruett and Christian Fittipaldi ended with Johansson regaining the lead on Lap 138, which he held until Lap 156.
After the final pit stops, Pruett climbed back into second place only to relinquish the position on Lap 180 of 188. He would eventually gain the position back only to see Johansson move past into second while Pruett was conserving fuel to make it to the finish.
The second-place finish was the best of the season for Johansson, Wagner and the New Century team, while the third-place showing allowed Pruett and Diaz to close within five points of the Rolex Series points lead after five of 14 races.
"It was a very eventful drive that's for sure," Johansson said. "After the big shunt I had in the lead, I thought the car would have been destroyed. I was just hanging on hoping that my legs were going to be all right. But those cars are incredibly durable. I just started it right back up, drove off, and believe it or not we didn't make one change to it after that. Toward the end we got into some contact with a few other cars which slowed our pace a bit. We were never able to fully recover to catch the leader."
Things didn't go as well for Chris Bingham, Hugo and Jacques Guenette, who placed 14th in the DLGL Lexus Riley as the Guenettes served as the home-town favorites in their native Quebec.