TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec -- Grand American Road Racing Association points leader James Weaver drove the Dyson Racing Riley & Scott Ford into the lead in Sunday's Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, and Butch Leitzinger nursed a failing ...
TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec -- Grand American Road Racing Association points leader James Weaver drove the Dyson Racing Riley & Scott Ford into the lead in Sunday's Player's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, and Butch Leitzinger nursed a failing transmission to give the team its fourth victory of the season before a huge crowd at the sun-drenched 1.5-mile circuit.
The Doran Special of Didier Theys and Ross Bentley came up only 4.26 seconds short of scoring its second straight Grand-Am triumph, while the second Dyson entry of Elliott Forbes-Robinson and John Paul Jr. took third, one second back.
Promoter Leon Methot reported a weekend attendance of approximately 100,000 for the event, located approximately 75 miles north of Montreal.
"When I saw Butch coming out of the last turn, I thought I had a chance," said Bentley. "Then I saw the checkered flag. I thought we still had one lap remaining."
"On about my second or third lap, something in the transmission linkage broke," explained Leitzinger, who co-drove to victory at Lime Rock, Conn., with Weaver earlier this year. "So I drove the rest of the race just poking around in first, third and fifth. Some of the shifts weren't as smooth as they could have been, so I was worried about the gearbox. Remarkably, it held together fine, and we didn't really lose that much off our lap times."
"I had a great race with Didier Theys," said Weaver, who also won the Rolex 24 and Paul Revere 250 Grand-Am races for Dyson. "The car was fine, and I didn't have any problems with it."
Unofficially, Weaver takes a 15-point lead over Theys to the Grand-Am season finale, which features a pair of points-paying events at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Weaver and Leitzinger averaged 81.70 miles per hour in event slowed by only one caution period, when the BMW of Chris Gleason came to a stop on the backstretch. Weaver tail-gated Theys for 10 laps following the restart, finally taking the lead on lap 35 on a pass near the pit entrance.
"After the restart, Didier's car seemed to be struggling for grip, and mine came straight back," explained Weaver. "That way, I was able to pull away from him."
Theys agreed with Weaver.
"After the restart, the grid never came back," said Theys. "That's why James passed me, because I was sliding a lot. Then when Ross (Bentley) took over, he was held up by a backmarker and that really hurt his chances of coming back."
The opening lap saw three of the top seven starters spin entering turn one. Jon Field attempted a banzai pass to the inside in the InterSport Lola Judd, but spun and collected the Ford Lola of Claude Bourbonnais and the Ferrari 333SP of Ralf Kelleners. All three continued at the back of the pack, although never in contention. Bourbonnais and Scott Schubot finished fourth, one position ahead of Kelleners and Mimmo Schiattarella.
Another contender experiencing problems was the fourth-qualifying Informix Riley & Scott Judd of George Robinson and Jack Baldwin, which lost two laps with an alternator problem. They managed to finish sixth.
Larry Oberto and Ryan Hampton scored their sixth SportsRacer Lights triumph of the year in a Nissan-Lola, although the Mazda Kudzu of Rich Grupp and Dennis Spencer dominated the early going before finishing second for the fourth time.
Terry Borcheller and Ron Johnson led all the way in GTO for their fifth victory of the year in a Saleen SR, and clinched a tie for the division championship. Erik Messley ran second in a Viper in the early going, but lost the differential and retired.
The GTU battle was the closest of the day, with Andy Pilgrim passing Darren Law with only five laps remaining to give the Genesis BMW of Rick Fairbanks its third victory of the campaign. Points leader Rick Fairbanks co-drove the second place G&W Porsche, which saw a three-race winning streak ended.
The Spirit of Daytona Camaro of Doug Goad and Craig Conway took the lead from Jon Leavy on lap 13 and led the rest of the way in American GT, despite a minor rear end leak which saw the car smoking most of the way. Andy McNeil finished second in the Comer Racing Camaro, to retain his points lead.
Theys won the Informix Software Way Fast Award with a lap of 1:00.25 in Saturday qualifying, leading a session in which the seven SportsRacers were within seven-thousandths of a second. Class pole winners were Oberto, Borcheller, Fitzgerald and Leavy.
Sunday's event was the eighth on the inaugural Grand-Am schedule, with only the August 25-27 Bosch Sports Car Summerfest at Watkins Glen International remaining. For additional information, check the official web site of Grand Am, www.grand-am.com.