Lally Claims Top KONI Challenge Grand Sport Practice Time Friday at Lime Rock Park LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 25, 2007) -- Andy Lally led Friday's KONI Challenge Grand Sport (GS) practice session at the 1.53-mile, seven-turn Lime Rock Park after ...
Lally Claims Top KONI Challenge Grand Sport Practice Time Friday at Lime Rock Park
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 25, 2007) -- Andy Lally led Friday's KONI Challenge Grand Sport (GS) practice session at the 1.53-mile, seven-turn Lime Rock Park after laying down a lap of 58.531 seconds (94.104 mph). Driving the No. 41 TRG Carlsen Porsche/Mitchell Global Porsche 997 and teaming with co-driver Ted Ballou again this weekend, Lally was last year's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve GT race winner at Lime Rock and is one of multiple drivers ready for double duty this weekend.
With a lap quicker than the existing track qualifying record set in May 2006 by Todd Snyder (58.954 seconds; 93.429 mph), Lally--a native of Long Island--hopes to challenge the record again during Saturday's qualifying session. He was one of two drivers to turn a lap quicker than the GS track record.
"We've got both of our TRG cars handling really (well)," Lally said. "On the (Rolex Series) GT side we're doing well, and on the (KONI Challenge) GS side, obviously, we're going fast. Ted Ballou and RJ Valentine are both doing a super job, and they're helping make my job easier. The guys have really been doing a solid, solid job, as always, on this (No.) 41 car for our GS program, and it's paying off. We're clicking and we're going fast. To end up fast here on the first day is a good feeling, because I've got a lot of friends and family coming up this weekend, and I don't want to let anybody down."
The other driver who surpassed the GS track record in practice was No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 co-driver Bill Auberlen, the defending GS race winner at Lime Rock Park. Auberlen scored a lap of 58.695 seconds (93.857 mph) early in the second session.
Auberlen turned the car over to co-driver Chris Gleason for the final 15 minutes of Friday afternoon's 45-minute session. The pair is hoping for the pole as well, but it won't happen without a few desperately needed changes, Auberlen said.
"For some reason, we've come off a very good car at Laguna Seca and we come here--we know the setup here, and we put the setup on that's always generally on this car--and it's bad, just bad," Auberlen said. "I mean, we were quickest in the last session, but I didn't like the car, my teammate didn't like the car, our team car didn't like the car, and I don't know if it's the track or we've got something wrong, but we're going back to the drawing board for something all new to come out tomorrow.
"We have to figure this out, because it's going to be a very tight, very difficult, very hot race. I know this place pretty well, but I don't think the car is good enough to win yet, and we need to make it good enough to win."
No. 09 Fresh From Florida/Automatic Racing BMW M3 driver Jeff Segal set the third practice time in the combined session (58.977 seconds; 93.392 mph). He will continue to pilot the car this weekend with co-driver Jep Thornton.
Spencer Pumpelly and Peter Ludwig, who won last weekend's GS race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, were fourth fastest on the overall charts in the No. 49 Marcus Motorsports MAH 720 Property Management/ EVOMS Porsche 997, after Pumpelly set a time of 58.998 seconds (93.359 mph) in the first session. Ludwig will be motivated to run well this weekend as he considers Lime Rock Park his home track.
Snyder, in the No. 137 JBS Motorsports ACKCO Inc. Consulting Group Mustang GT, was fifth overall in the session, setting his car's best overall time in the morning session at 59.370 seconds (92.774 mph). He is co-driving the car with Matt Ackley this weekend.
GS points leader Joe Foster was 13th fastest on the charts in the afternoon session, recording a best time of 1:00.023 (91.765). His closest challenger in the championship--Stamford, Conn. native Tom Nastasi--was right ahead of him in 12th, driving the last car, the No. 5 USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT, to lap the track in less than a minute in the second session.
Qualifying for the GS class is scheduled for 11:15 Saturday, followed by the ST class qualifying session at noon. The 163-lap, two-and-a-half hour ST race kicks off at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, and the 163-lap, two-and-a-half hour GS race is slated for a 10 a.m. start Monday.
CURRAN QUICKEST IN STREET TUNER PRACTICE AT HOME TRACK OF LIME ROCK
In Friday's Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Street Tuner (ST) practice sessions at Lime Rock Park, Chicopee, Mass. resident Eric Curran topped the time charts with a lap at 1:01.139 (90.090 mph) in the No. 01 Scada Pack/Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt.
Curran and co-driver Jamie Holtom are the defending champions of the KONI Challenge Series ST class at Lime Rock Park, and Curran has several fond memories of races at his "home track." Curran has won 23 races in various divisions of racing at Lime Rock, including last year's ST race in the No. 01 Cobalt alongside Holtom. However, Curran and Holtom are still looking for their first victory this season.
"This KONI Challenge Series is getting more and more competitive as the races go on and the years go on," Curran said. "Obviously, we're looking for a repeat of last year. The Georgian Bay guys and this Scada Pack Cobalt team have been working very hard all year and have had some tough luck throughout the course of the year so far. This is my home track. I grew up here, I know the track very well and I know the car very well. It's a good combination. Jamie's going fast. We don't quite have the horsepower that some of the other cars have, but this is one of those tracks where it's a lot about corner speed and braking and really getting the momentum around here. Hopefully, we've got a KONI shock package that's really working well. We're very happy with it, and again, the Scada Pack Cobalt is doing a great job."
Trevor Hopwood of Lee, N.H. was second-quick in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport 330i with a lap at 1:01.260 (89.912 mph). Hopwood and co-driver Adam Burrows have not finished lower than seventh in any of their four 2007 ST class starts and led the point standings heading into last weekend's event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and are currently just seven points behind co-leaders Karl Thomson and Billy Johnson, who co-drive the No. 76 Kensai Racing/Compass360.com Acura TSX. However, Hopwood and Burrows head into Saturday's race at Lime Rock still searching for KONI Challenge victory number one.
"It's great to start the weekend off on the right foot for our home race here at Lime Rock Park," said Hopwood. "The cars got back to the Turner shop from Laguna on Wednesday night, and the guys have been putting in a ton of work to be ready for this weekend. I've been watching them on the shop cam on tmsracing.com, and I really appreciate the effort they have been putting in. This car is just fantastic."
Kristian Skavnes was third quickest in the No. 111 Subaru Legacy for ICY/Phoenix Racing with a lap at 1:01.275 (89.890 mph). Skavnes is sharing the car with Chuck Hemmingson. Anthony Serra was fourth-quickest on the day with a lap at 1:01.364 (89.759 mph) in the No. 142 Davis Motorsports Acura TSX he is co-driving with Matt Plumb and Peter Cunningham. Toby Grahovec filled out the top five with a lap at 1:01.487 (89.580 mph) in the No. 86 Classic BMW -- Plano BMW Z4. Grahovec is sharing the car with Pierre Kleinubing.