Montreal: GM Racing preview

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Head North To Montreal Collins and Edwards lead GT championship GAINSCO Pontiac second in DP Detroit, Mich., July 29, 2008 -- Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams are heading to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for round...

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Head North To Montreal
Collins and Edwards lead GT championship
GAINSCO Pontiac second in DP

Detroit, Mich., July 29, 2008 -- Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams are heading to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for round ten of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 to be run August 1.

Ron Fellows to partner Marc Bunting in Banner 06.
Oliver Gavin will join Tracy Krohn in the No. 75.
Banner Racing's Collins and Edwards lead GT points.
Collins and Edwards defending Barber GT race winners.
Stevenson Motorsports' Davis and Liddell third in GT points.
Pontiac leading GT manufacturer battle.
GAISNCO Pontiac drivers Gurney and Fogarty top Pontiac DP team in second.
SunTrust defending Montreal winners.

The 2.7-mile, 15-turn Gilles Villeneuve island circuit will host the Grand-Am series for only the second time. The Banner Racing duo of Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards takes their Rolex Series GT points lead into Canada with only three races remaining. The team will be looking for a top finish to help carry their lead to the season ending race less than 60 days away. The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is second in the DP standings and had a DNF in the last event at Barber Motorsports Park hurting their chances to defend their 2007 DP series championship.

Since their win at Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day weekend the Pontiac GXP.R teams have been saddled with an additional 112lbs. of weight and a balance penalty of no more than 49% weight on the rear of the car. The weight combined with the heat of the summer has caused the GXP.R teams to slip in the point standings. Collins and Edwards lead the GT standings by 20 points. The pair has three wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Laguna Seca and Lime Rock Park. Stevenson Motorsports is also at the top of the GT standings. Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis have posted victories at Mexico City and Virginia International Raceway (VIR) and are third in the points. Liddell and Davis are 27 points out of first and seven out of second.

Collins and Edwards need a strong finish at Montreal this weekend. Their points lead has been being eaten away little-by-little since their last win at Lime Rock. Last year at Montreal Collins qualified the Banner 07 GXP.R on the pole. In the race the team was running upfront until a last lap spin relegated them to eighth.

"We were running strong last year until a big pile up in the Casino turn and I spun," Edwards said. "We were able to get a good toe down the straights and the GXP.R is always good in transitions and through the corners. We were able to hang with the front cars. We are still at a deficit to the other cars so we will need a trouble free race on the track, pits and in the inspection line. Montreal is a great track I would love to be on the podium for this race. It supposed to be nice and cool, we can turn the ac off and get a couple extra horsepower."

In the No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac Marc Bunting will be teamed with Canadian sportscar legend Ron Fellows. Fellows will also be behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevy owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr for Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide race.

"Montreal is a good track for me," Fellows said. "I won a couple of showroom stock races there a few years back. Last year in the Nationwide race I qualified third. It was an adventure there most of time. We got caught up in the Casino turn wreck and were spun out by Pruett. We were able to get back to fourth at the end. I am curious to drive the GXP.R since the weight has been added. My guess is that the track won't suit the Pontiac too well. Slow corners and long straights don't suit a car that you have to slow down and reaccelerate from low speed back to fast. It is a really fun track to drive. I enjoyed it last year. At Lime Rock we had a good run. We split the strategy and went an awful long time on a set of tires. It was a shame the way we finished. I told my kids there is a first last time for everything."

In the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports GXP.R Liddell and Davis are the most consistent Pontiac GXP.R team since the weight and balance distribution penalty applied following Lime Rock Park. The team has finished no worse than fourth and has two second place finishes and a third since the end of May. This consistency goes with their two wins at Mexico City and Virginia International Raceway. The pair is currently third in the GT point standings.

"I am really looking forward to driving in Montreal," Liddell said. "The Canadians (especially the Quebecois) are mad keen on racing, so I am sure we will get a great reception, and as the track is basically a street track I expect it to be challenging and rewarding to drive. The long straights will not help us, but I expect our chassis to be good on the low grip surface so I think we have a good chance. I think as the track is a street circuit it is bound to be pretty low grip and rubber in throughout the weekend, so I expect the car to get better and better throughout the weekend. The main issue we are facing is that because the weight of the car is high it works the tires that bit harder and therefore they tend to go off quicker. With the changes implemented since the last race this may see a slight reduction in front tire wear, but it will be negligible. Nonetheless I expect us to be competitive."

The No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac team of Tim Lewis Jr. and Terry Borcheller will be looking for some redemption on Friday. The team only completed five laps at Barber. The team has been a consistent top eight team all season and is looking for their first podium finish.

"I like the track, it has a lot of history and it is fun to race there," Lewis said. "It doesn't really suit our car with the long straights. They have added some weight to the Mazda, so hopefully that will help us a little. We will need to be consistent and let the race come to us. Terry and I get along extremely well. After the disappointment at Barber the team was really down as a result of our DNF. All year the guys have put their heads down and worked harder and harder. We want to give the Autohaus crew a good result. It has been a challenging first year for the team. We have had some decent finishes. I know we will get a good finish in one of the last three races."

The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings team rise up the DP points standings stalled at Barber Motorsport Park two weeks ago when a clutch failure DNF'd the team. Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney were the pole sitters at Montreal last year and finished the race in third place.

"Montreal is a great track and one that I've always loved," said Gurney. "Having watched the F1 races over the years, it's always a special kind of feeling racing on the same track as they do. Now, with the NASCAR Nationwide Series there as well, our Montreal weekend is a very big happening. Last year, it looked like we were headed for a win but a faulty wheel gun put a stop to that. We fell to 10th after our mishap and I had a great time trying to make it back toward the front. I made it up to third and was very happy to get by Scott Pruett in the last few laps for the last podium spot. There are some very long straights at Montreal, which hasn't been our strong suit this year, but everyone on the team and everyone at Pontiac have been doing everything possible to give us the best possible package. With the championship looking more and more difficult, we very much want to win this race, especially since we think we gave one up at Barber."

The Riley-Matthews team of Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews are heading back to Montreal with the goal of finishing one place better than last year. The team finished second in '07 and is hopeful to take the top spot this Friday.

It's a good little circuit in a nice area and nice park," Goossens said. "Layout wise it's not too complicated, as most corners are slower chicanes with heavy braking zones. Overall it reminds me of a lot of different corners on European tracks. This track is all about braking. Last year we had a very good car and I was able to make up a lot of positions to finish second. It wasn't till the last restart of the last caution that I got right behind the SunTrust car. Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding at the restart about there being one or two laps left. Maybe if I knew, the restart could have been a little more aggressive, but I think we had a good race and we pulled off a strong podium finish. Hopefully the car will be as good this year and we will try everything in our power to score one better than in ' 07."

The SunTrust Pontiac team goes into Montreal as the defending race winners. Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante are still looking for their first win on the 2008 season.

"Montreal was really good to us last year," Angelelli said. "We will have the new Dallara there for the first time, which will make it a challenge like it is everywhere we go with it for the first time. But we are using the same tools that we had last year, like lap simulation programs, which we just started in Montreal in 2007. The whole atmosphere is very enjoyable. There are lots of people walking outside. It's just fantastic. There are lots of tourists. The location of the race track, the city, the time of the year, the history related to the track, the fact that F1 has gone there since the early days, the track is named after a famous driver, all of those things, combined, makes the weekend very exciting. I'm pretty confident the SunTrust car will be fast. Depending on the weather conditions -in Montreal, rain is always very possible - that feeling might change. But if we have a clean, sunny race, I am confident we can have our second podium of the year, or better.

The duo of Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson have shown glimmers of speed throughout the season in their new No. 76 Krohn Racing Lola. To date the two have managed lead 76 laps in their new Lola. The result has been two podium positions. The team is hungry to give the guys in green their first win.

"It will be the second time at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with the Prototypes," Jonsson said. "Last year was the inaugural race and I raced the prototypes and also the Busch Grand National series for my first time. I think it will be a good race for the Proto-Auto Lola. I think we're making a huge progress and I'm very excited to go there. It's also going to be the first race actually that both the Ricardo and I have been to the track before. That makes it kind of exciting because so far this year Ricardo has had to learn new tracks every time and I do believe the fact he's driven the circuit before will play in our favor as well. I'm really excited to go to Montreal again. It's a fantastic place and a really nice track. Braking is very important there and it seems like the Proto-Auto Lola is a very good car on the brakes. After the race we had at Barber Motorsports Park, I think we should be very encouraged and looking very positive on the coming race because we definitely had a car at Barber to win. We were leading the race and obviously turning on fastest laps out there all day long. Unfortunately we had a puncture and without any problems up in Montreal everyone should look out for the No. 76 car and it should be a good race for us."

Eric van de Poele will step aside and give his seat to Oliver Gavin. Van de Poele will in Spa for the 24 hours. Gavin, a full time team Corvette driver is looking forward to partnering Tracy Krohn in the 75 Krohn Racing Lola this weekend.

"This will be the first time I've driven the Lola since I tested it at Daytona at the beginning of the year," Gavin said. "We didn't actually race the car at Daytona; we drove with the Riley but I believe it's got a lot, lot better. In fact, last race at Barber Park it was been extremely competitive. I'm looking forward to getting back into the car and driving with Tracy. Montreal, I think, is going to be a challenging circuit for the car. It's certainly a classic race track. It's one of those circuits you dream of racing around because there's a lot history there. I've never actually raced there but I've driven there quite a lot. I was actually driving the safety car for the Grand Prix's in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and consequently I've done quite a few laps around there. You could say I've led a couple of Grand Prix's there (laughter!!) but never actually raced. So I know the circuit, but not in a car like this. It may take me a little bit of time to get acquainted to it, acclimatized, but I feel I should be there quite quickly and we'll have to see how we get on. It's going to be a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to it."

The race from Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be televised on the SPEED Channel, Friday, August 1 starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports