PENSKE PORSCHE RILEY SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR FROM TOP STEP OF PODIUM; FARNBACHER LOLES RACING, TRG HAVE GOOD DAYS IN THE RAIN FOR PORSCHE GT MONTREAL - August 29 -- Despite dark and dreary wet weather conditions, Saturday was a good day for Porsche...
PENSKE PORSCHE RILEY SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR FROM TOP STEP OF PODIUM; FARNBACHER LOLES RACING, TRG HAVE GOOD DAYS IN THE RAIN FOR PORSCHE GT
MONTREAL - August 29 -- Despite dark and dreary wet weather conditions, Saturday was a good day for Porsche teams competing in the Montreal 200 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) finished second in their #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley and narrowly missed their first victory of the season. Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) and Dirk Werner (Germany) missed the GT podium, finishing sixth in their #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, but padded their Acxiom GT championship points lead to 35 points, a full race's worth of points. And TRG gave Porsche its only podium position in GT.
"Like Romain said, we are very happy to be back on the podium," Bernhard said. "This was our race to win but with the changing conditions, rain, then dry, then pouring rain, and not drying as well, it was difficult for the crew to decide what to do. Romain gave me a good car in the lead after his good start, and the changing with the rain, hurt us in strategy. It was crazy changing from pouring rain to dry track, so I am happy to be on the podium, knowing we should have won. We were strong, and that gives us hope for the next race."
It has been a trying season for the Porsche works drivers in this, their rookie season, of Grand-Am competition. Montreal marks their best finish of the season, and only third podium.
"Yes, for sure, it was the big day for us," Dumas said. "Thanks to Grand-Am (rule change restoring RPM limit to max 9600), and the good car the Penske crew gives us, we able to battle up front. It was a nice race and we had the chance to win. It has been six months since we feel that way. We're happy with a podium but feel we could have won this race, and that makes the entire Penske team feel good."
Brian Frisselle (Aspen, Co) and Max Angelelli (Monaco) took the overall victory by 61 seconds over Bernhard and Dumas in their #10 Ford Dallara, thanks to a different strategy that had them stay on rain tires while other frontrunners, include Penske, pitted twice to change from
slicks to rains and back to slick tires in the final 30 minutes of a two-race race plagued with rapidly changing weather conditions.
The #58 Brumos Porsche Riley of David Donohue (Malvern, PA) and Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ) had a action-filled path to finish fifth. Donohue had qualified fourth but the team was penalized for being four pounds underweight, and started 15th, at the back of the Daytona Prototypes. Donohue charged through the pack after pitting on the first lap to change tires, and Law completed the drive to the front under trying conditions, yielding a good solid result.
"What could have been," Donohue said. "Who knows what could have happened, or where we would have finished without the penalty. But it was an encouraging run for us, and we glad to leave with a fifth."
The other Brumos car, the #59 Porsche Riley started by JC France (Ormond Beach, FL), retired after just 11 laps, suffering rear damage after being hit from behind. Joao Barbosa (Portugal) never got a chance to drive in the race.
Keen started from the GT pole, and led early and often before turning the car over to Werner. But Werner had to make an extra pit stop, dropping him back to 12th, and the team never fully recovered.
"The new tire we just put on had a bad vibration, so Dirk had no choice but to pit and change it." Keen said. "We had to work on the front left and that put us behind. We weren't going to take any chances, so all hope for a win was lost, but we finished ahead of the 07 (Pontiac) and that added to our points lead, so we are happy with that. Dirk did a wonderful job in the rain. The whole race was pretty wild and we did pretty dang good and opened up the gap on the 07 car. Sixth place on a day like today is not too bad.
"Coming off the pole and not winning is disappointing, but it was still a pretty good race for us considering the championship. We're gonna go to Salt Lake City and go for it."
While GT victory eluded Porsche customer teams, Andy Lally (Newport, NY) and newcomer Brandon Gaughan (Las Vegas, NV) were the highest finishing Porsche GT team, taking third in their #66 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
"We had a really good car, and a really good race," Lally said. "We had some really good dogfights in GT, and it's been a while since we've done that and had that much fun in a race. The weather was horrible, and the changing conditions made it tough, but the TRG crew handled it well and made all the right calls."
"This was my first time in a Porsche - I had never seen a Porsche or been in a Porsche," said Gaughan, a NASCAR Nationwide competitor. "It has been a long, long, long since I have been in a sports car. This was a lot of fun and I am very happy to be on the podium in my first race. Andy was a great coach.
"If anybody's listening, I'd love to race in the Rolex 24."
The newest Porsche GT team, the #48 Marquis Jets Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Bryce Miller (Summit, NJ) and Dave Lacey (Canada) retired halfway through the two-hour race with gearbox problems, while the #86 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Eric Lux (Jacksonville, FL) and Bryan Sellers (Dayton, OH) finished fifth in GT, just ahead of Keen and Werner.
-credit: porsche motorsport