Leitzinger & Forbes-Robinson Look For Two-In-A-Row as Second Half of Rolex Series Season Kicks Off at Barber DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 26, 2005) -- Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger head to Barber Motorsports Park for this Sunday's ...
Leitzinger & Forbes-Robinson Look For Two-In-A-Row as Second Half of Rolex Series Season Kicks Off at Barber
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 26, 2005) -- Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger head to Barber Motorsports Park for this Sunday's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant (SPEED Channel, Live, 1 p.m. ET) as the race's defending champions.
Perhaps more importantly, the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford co-drivers are carrying the momentum of their first 2005 race victory in the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway four weeks ago. In four of their seven 2005 starts to date, Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger have finished inside the top-two positions.
However, the Howard-Boss Motorsports teammates currently trail No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor--who lead the Daytona Prototype standings with 212 points--by 22 points and are 15 points in arrears of No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz. A repeat win at Barber would certainly establish Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger as serious contenders for the Daytona Prototype championship, but it is a tall order to be sure.
After Taylor took his first career Rolex Series pole position for the Brumos Porsche 250 and combined with Angelelli to finish second in the race, the No. 10 SunTrust team looks poised for another upswing in the second half. They opened the year with back-to-back victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Grand Prix of Miami before finishing second to Pruett and Diaz by a whisker in Round 3 at California Speedway. Taylor and Angelelli finished a strong second in their last visit to Barber Motorsports Park last October, and barring unforeseen circumstances, they will be among the favorites this weekend.
Likewise, Pruett and Diaz will also be in the mix. The duo hasn't finished lower than seventh in any race thus far in 2005 and won Round 4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in addition to their victory at California Speedway. After a pair of third-place finishes in Rounds 5 and 6, the CompUSA teammates saw their run of consecutive podium finishes snapped at four with a sixth-place showing in the Brumos Porsche 250.
Nevertheless, this is a team that can win at any time, and Pruett and Diaz have the added incentive this weekend of avenging the somewhat disappointing performance the last time out and returning to the top of the Daytona Prototype standings where they were prior to the Brumos Porsche 250.
One race car that is sure to attract a lot of attention this weekend is Doran Labonte Racing's No. 44 Loctite Pontiac Doran. Taking advantage of a rare NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series weekend off, 2000 NASCAR champion Bobby Labonte will drive in his third Rolex Series event of the season--and second-in-a-row--in the Porsche 250. Labonte will share the No. 44 machine with former Champ Car standout Roberto Moreno, and the duo bears watching throughout the weekend.
Two Daytona Prototypes that won races earlier this season will also be back in action this weekend, and their drivers will be looking for another taste of the victory champagne. Judging from the success of Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger last year, No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Andy Wallace and Milka Duno--who won the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant in May--ought to be extremely competitive this weekend as well.
No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG co-drivers Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson claimed a victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen last month and have been tough competitors throughout the 2005 campaign. They too would love nothing more than to add another trophy to their case this weekend.
Through the first seven races this season, five different sets of co-drivers have visited Victory Lane. Should one more different set of teammates score a win this weekend, it will match the record for different winners established last season when Leitzinger and Forbes-Robinson won at Barber.
The aforementioned combination of Labonte and Moreno are likely candidates to tie the record, as is the other Krohn Racing/TRG entry of Jorg Bergmeister and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 66 Pontiac Riley. Bergmeister has led in each of his last five Rolex Series starts, and he and Fittipaldi were within four laps of their first victory of the season in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen before Jonsson found his way past.
The No. 02 New Century Mortgage Lexus Riley pairing of Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner are another duo with the potential to win. The Chip Ganassi Racing co-drivers have routinely started near the front of the field, including a season-best starting position of second at the Brumos Porsche 250 for Wagner. Their best result of the season was a second-place run in the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant.
No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley co-drivers Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. finished third in Round 3 at California Speedway. Borkowski will team this weekend with Canadian driver Kenny Wilden--who is pinch-hitting for Mears--and the duo could break through with a win for Michael Shank Racing in the Porsche 250. Ralf Kelleners and 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller could also challenge for the victory in the No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Pontiac Doran for Bell Motorsports. They finished third at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May and Borcheller has been particularly good at Barber Motorsports Park with an overall victory in 2003 and front-row qualifying performances in both of his previous two appearances.
Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley have finished fourth in each of the past three Rolex Series events aboard the Finlay Motorsports No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley. They too have shown plenty of speed and the potential to win.
Italian co-drivers Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin have run at the front on occasion throughout 2005, and the duo is hoping a switch from Lexus to Ford power will be the key to victory. Bobbi and Gollin will co-drive the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran for Doran Racing.
After becoming the youngest set of co-drivers to compete in a Rolex Series race when they co-drove a GT machine for TRG at the age of 16 in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 16-year-old Colin Braun and 17-year-old Brad Coleman will become the youngest-ever Daytona Prototype co-drivers this weekend in the No. 5 BottleRocket Sports & Entertainment/Team 16 Ford Crawford for Essex Racing.
Others ready for battle this weekend include the No. 3 PAP-Parts/OZEXE BMW Riley duo of Shane Lewis and Darius Grala with Southard Motorsports, Brian Tuttle and an as-yet-unnamed co-driver in the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing/SAMAX Pontiac Riley, No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran co-drivers Burt and Brian Frisselle, No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing/Spiralz Custom Jewelry Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Doug Goad and Stephan Gregoire, the No. 58 Red Bull Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar pairing of David Donohue and Darren Law, No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar co-drivers Hurley Haywood and JC France, and No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley teammates Bob Stallings and Alex Gurney.
In the GT class, the four-car BMW Team PTG operation has proven to be tough to beat of late, as one of the team's BMW M3s has taken the class victory in four of the last five races. This weekend, Joey Hand and Justin Marks--who won the GT class in the Brumos Porsche 250--will once again share the No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3, with RJ Valentine and Kelly Collins slated for the team's No. 17 F1 Air machine, defending GT champion Bill Auberlen and Tom Milner co-driving the No. 21 BMW Financial Services M3 and Chris Gleason Jr. and Ian James sharing the No. 22 BMW Financial Services M3.
GT points leader Craig Stanton is still searching for his first class victory of the weekend, but he and his No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup co-driver David Murry won last year's Grand-Am Cup Series race at Barber Motorsports Park and could break through this weekend. A Porsche team that has taken the class victory this season is the No. 14 Keen Cap/Toptul Porsche GT3 Cup duo of Leh Keen and Cory Friedman, who took class honors for Autometrics Motorsports in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen with guest driver Wolf Henzler.
Andy Lally and Marc Bunting co-drove a Porsche to the GT class win in the Grand Prix of Miami, but this weekend they will look to bring their No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R home to victory. They will be joined in a similar Pontiac GTO.R by Jan Magnussen and Paul Edwards, who will co-drive TRG's No. 64 entry. The 28-car GT field will be bolstered by several more Porsche GT3s, as well as two Chevrolet Corvettes and two other versions of the Pontiac GTO.
Saturday's main event will be the Grand-Am Cup Series Barber Park 200. No. 05 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT driver David Empringham heads the Grand Sport (GS) class point standings, while No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt driver Jim Holtom tops the Sport Touring (ST) points table.
After a promoter test day on Thursday, the weekend's official activities get underway on Friday morning with a 30-minute practice session for Rolex Series GT machines only beginning at 9:10 a.m. CT. At 9:40 a.m., the Daytona Prototypes will share the track with the GT class for one hour, followed by a 30-minute session for Daytona Prototypes only.
The Grand-Am Cup Series takes to the track for a 45-minute practice session beginning at 12:50 p.m. on Friday afternoon, followed by another hour-long Rolex Series practice session at 1:45 p.m. Friday's activities wind-down with a Grand-Am Cup practice from 3:35 to 4:20 p.m.
On Saturday, the Grand-Am Cup machines are first on track for practice from 9:00 to 9:50 a.m. The final pre-qualifying practice session for the Rolex Series is next from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., followed by Grand-Am Cup ST qualifying from 11:10 to 11:25 a.m. and GS qualifying from 11:35 to 11:50 a.m. At 12:50 p.m., the Rolex Series GT class will be on-track for its 15-minute qualifying session, followed by Daytona Prototype qualifying from 1:15 to 1:30 p.m.
The Barber Park 200 will take the green flag shortly after 2:00 p.m. CT on Saturday with a scheduled distance of 87 laps (200 miles). The race is subject to a two-and-a-half hour time limit and will be televised by SPEED Channel on a tape-delayed basis at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 6.
Sunday's race day schedule calls for a final, 15-minute warm-up session for the Rolex Series machines from 9:40 to 9:55 a.m. CT, and the green flag will drop on the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant--Round 8 of the 14-race 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series--shortly after 12:00 Noon CT. The race will be televised live on SPEED Channel beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Live coverage from throughout the weekend will also be available on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com. The site offers live Timing & Scoring data from every Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup session, as well as live audio webcasts in both English and Spanish of the Grand-Am Cup and Rolex Series races.