Bunting & Lally Lead Rolex Series Back to Lime Rock Park for First Time Since 2001 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 23, 2006) -- Riding a streak of five podium finishes in six 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal...
Bunting & Lally Lead Rolex Series Back to Lime Rock Park for First Time Since 2001
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 23, 2006) -- Riding a streak of five podium finishes in six 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve races, No. 65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R co-drivers Marc Bunting and Andy Lally lead the Rolex Series GT class back to the historic Lime Rock Park circuit for the first time since 2001 in Monday's Rolex GT Series Challenge (SPEED, 2:30 p.m. ET).
The No. 65 duo currently sits tied atop the GT class point standings with six of 13 races in the books and the halfway point of the season approaching this Memorial Day weekend. Lally and Bunting have 279 points, 12 more than No. 72 NEC Porsche GT3 co-drivers Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler, and 15 markers ahead of their No. 64 TRG/iRise Pontiac GTO.R teammates Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards.
Bunting and Lally have only missed the GT podium once this season, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March, and celebrated their first victory of the season in last month's VIR 400. The duo is expected to be joined by RJ Valentine, a native of nearby Braintree, Mass. as they look for their second victory of the season in the first and only stand-alone event for the GT class this season.
If they are to pull it off, however, it won't come without a fight. Bunting, Lally and Valentine need not look any further than their own space in the paddock when searching for potential race winners other than themselves, as Collins and Edwards lead the GT class with three feature race victories.
After finishing 13th in class in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, Collins and Edwards have not finished outside the top five in a feature, a run that includes GT victories in the Mexico City 250 and the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami in March and the GAINSCO Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway two weeks ago. In addition, Collins won the GT qualifying race--and 35 important championship points for himself and Edwards--for the Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca earlier this month.
Another team to watch will be the three-car assault from Tafel Racing, led by Henzler and Liddell in the No. 72 machine. Liddell and Henzler scored the first feature race victory for the Tafel team in the Road & Track 250 and have not finished worse than sixth in any event this season to remain in the thick of the GT championship battle. Henzler also won the GT qualifying race for the VIR 400, and would love nothing more than to drive into victory lane on Monday afternoon to celebrate another victory alongside Liddell and the rest of the team.
Co-driving the team's No. 73 NEC Porsche GT3 will be team owner Jim Tafel and Georgia's Andrew Davis, while 18-year-old Eric Lux, from Amherst, N.Y., and Charles Espenlaub will share the No. 74 Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 for Tafel Racing. While Henzler and Liddell have led the way for the Tafel operation, neither the No. 73 nor No. 74 teams have been strangers to the GT top 10.
Another team not to be overlooked is the two-car program fielded by Sigalsport BMW. In the team's No. 05 Alhadeff Motorsports/Motul/GRW.com.mx/enVista BMW M3 is Matthew Alhadeff and two-time Rolex Series GT champion Bill Auberlen, who owns a Lime Rock Park record five victories in various types of racing cars at the 1.53-mile road course. Auberlen and Alhadeff are still looking for their first GT win of the season, but have finished in the top five in three of the six races this season with a best result of fourth at Homestead.
Driving the No. 04 Sigalsport/Motul/GRW.com.mx/enVista/OMP BMW M3 will be Gene Sigal and Peter MacLeod. Sigal owns one Rolex Series class victory, an SGS win in the 2004 season finale at California Speedway. He and MacLeod head to Lime Rock looking to improve on their best result of the season, an eighth-place GT performance in the Mexico City 250.
Randy Pobst and owner/driver Michael Levitas also rank among the favorites in the Rolex GT Series Challenge. The No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 co-drivers have visited their share of Rolex Series victory circles over the past few years, and opened the 2006 season with a GT class victory in the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona. Spencer Pumpelly and an as-yet-unnamed co-driver will run alongside Pobst and Levitas in the No. 35 TPC Racing Porsche GT3.
The two-car Synergy Racing operation is another strong team that could figure in the outcome on Monday. David Murry and Leh Keen share the team's No. 80 Shoes For Crews/Synergy Racing Porsche GT3, with Steve Johnson and Robert Nearn co-driving the No. 81 Comfort Systems USA/Johnson Commercial Development Porsche GT3.
Another strong two-car Porsche program comes from South Florida-based SAMAX. Englishman Robert Bell has been entered to share the team's No. 17 Porsche GT3 with a driver to be announced, while Canadians Greg Wilkins and Dave Lacey will co-drive the No. 71 Minestar Solutions/Tim Hortons/SAMAX Porsche GT3 Cup for SAMAX/Doncaster Racing.
The Porsche contingent is further bolstered by Steve Bernheim and Dwain Dement in the No. 38 BernheimLawFirm.com Porsche GT3 for Bernheim Racing, and Joe Sahlen, of Elma, N.Y. and Will Nonnamaker co-driving the No. 43 HRPWorld.com/GOJO/Hawk Porsche GT3 for Team Sahlen. Matt Connolly Motorsports has entered a pair of BMW M3s, including the team's No. 21 machine to be co-driven by Bill Cotter and team owner Matt Connolly and the No. 24 BMW M3 with drivers to be announced.
A pair of Chevrolet Corvettes will also compete in the Rolex GT Series Challenge. Michael Baughman and John Connolly from New York City will co-drive the No. 46 New York Board of Trade/Joe Gibbs Performance Corvette for Michael Baughman Racing, and Tommy Riggins, Vic Rice and John Stevenson slated for the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Corvette. The 20-car entry list is completed by the No. 34 Canadian All American Racers Pontiac Grand-Am with drivers to be announced.
Also on the docket for this weekend at Lime Rock Park is Round 5 of the 10-race 2006 Grand-Am Cup Series. The Grand-Am Cup Street Tuner (ST) class, led by points co-leaders Jamie Holtom and Eric Curran in the No. 01 Clearscada/GM Performance Division Chevrolet Cobalt SS with Georgian Bay Motorsports, takes the green flag for a 200-mile race at 2:45 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 27. The Grand-Am Cup Series Grand Sport (GS) class, featuring points co-leaders Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 49 Porsche of Lexington/TGB Scooters/Cobra Powersports Porsche 997, will have its own 200-miler beginning at 10:05 a.m. ET on Monday, May 29.
The green flag is scheduled to drop on the Rolex GT Series Challenge at 2:00 p.m. ET on Monday, with SPEED providing complete television coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. Live Timing & Scoring data and audio webcasts will also be available on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.
WHO: Grand American Road Racing Association
WHAT: Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve GT
Grand-Am Cup Series
WHERE: Lime Rock Park; Lakeville, Conn.
TV: Rolex GT Series Challenge - SPEED, Monday, May 29 at 2:30 p.m. ET
<pre> EVENT SCHEDULE:
Friday, May 26 10:55 a.m.-11:25 a.m. Rolex Series GT practice 11:30 a.m.-11:55 a.m. Grand-Am Cup ST practice 12:00 p.m.-12:25 p.m. Grand-Am Cup GS practice 2:35 p.m.-3:05 p.m. Rolex Series GT practice 3:10 p.m.-3:35 p.m. Grand-Am Cup ST practice 3:40 p.m.-4:05 p.m. Grand-Am Cup GS practice
Saturday, May 27 9:15 a.m.-9:40 a.m. Grand-Am Cup ST practice 10:05 a.m.-10:35 a.m. Rolex Series GT practice 10:40 a.m.-11:05 a.m. Grand-Am Cup GS practice 11:10 a.m.-11:25 a.m. Grand-Am Cup ST qualifying 1:55 p.m.-2:10 p.m. Rolex Series GT qualifying 2:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Grand-Am Cup GS qualifying 2:45 p.m. START-Grand-Am Cup ST race (200 miles/130 laps/2 ½ hour time limit)
Monday, May 29 9:00 a.m.-9:15 a.m. Grand-Am Cup GS practice 9:20 a.m.-9:35 a.m. Rolex Series GT practice 10:05 a.m. START-Grand-Am Cup GS race (200 miles/130 laps/2 ½ hour time limit) 2:00 p.m. START-Rolex Series GT Challenge (250 miles/163 laps/2 ¾ hour time limit)