Porsche Contingent Impressive in Qualifying for '08 Finale; Donohue, Hand top five in DP; In GT Porsches Go 1-2-3 TOOELE, Utah-September 19 --Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype cars qualified well for Saturday's SunRichGournet.com 1,000 Friday ...
Porsche Contingent Impressive in Qualifying for '08 Finale; Donohue, Hand top five in DP; In GT Porsches Go 1-2-3
TOOELE, Utah-September 19 --Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype cars qualified well for Saturday's SunRichGournet.com 1,000 Friday afternoon at Miller Motorsports Park with David Donohue of Malvern, Pa., third in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche-Riley third and Joey Hand of Sacramento, Cal., fifth in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Alex Job Racing Porsche- Riley. Ricardo Zonta of Brazil won the pole in the Krohn Racing Pontiac-Lola. The race is the final of the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
Porsche's fortunes fared even better in GT Class with Leh Keen of Charleston, S.C., capturing the pole in the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, teammate Wolf Henzler of Germany second in the No. 87 entry and Spencer Pumpelly of Mason Neck, Va., third in the No. 66 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Donohue finished in third by only four-thousandths of a second behind Series leader Scott Pruett in the Ganassi-Sabates Lexus-Riley and .159 of a second behind Zonta. Donohue, who will share his car with Phoenix residents Darren Law and Buddy Rice, recorded a top time of 2:35.823 (103.641 mph) around the 24-turn, 4.486-mile circuit. For most of the 15-minute session, there was a light rain.
"I was obviously hoping for pole, going for pole, but a couple of little driver errors kept us from gaining the 10th of a second we needed to win the pole," Donohue said. "It was wet on the out lap and the first time by, but it dried pretty quickly. There was a light sprinkle on the windshield, but it looked like a deluge coming off Turn 4. So I was hustling, hoping to be the only to get a lap before it hit the track.
"The car is really good for the race. It was comfortable to drive. I overdrove it a little bit, which cost whatever we needed for the pole. It will be a great race car and we've got a great driver lineup to bring it home. It took Buddy (Rice) a grand total of three laps to get up to speed, and Darren's right there. There is no weak link. We've got what we need. We just to get through the race unscathed without any errors."
After a slow start in the first four races, the Donohue-Law duo has never finished out of the top 10 in nine straight races and recorded three podium finishes. They have come oh, so close.
"I wanted the pole because I've had three already this year and to be the only person to have four would have been nice, a great shot in the arm for the team," Donohue added. "It showcases the guys' effort really well, especially considering we haven't brought home the checkered flag yet and I think these guys have earned it and deserve it."
After watching his car pace practice, Alex Job was also hoping for a pole.
"We were quickest in the first session (Thursday) and quickest in the first session this morning and Joey was expecting more, but I think the weather played a part," Job said. "It's a long race (organizers announced it would 1,000 kilometers or 6:45 whichever comes first). It's not really important where you start, but obviously we wanted to start better than P-5.
"The rain really played into qualifying and our car was really good with previous track conditions, but we didn't quite hit the perfect mark with these conditions and P-5 is where we're at so we'll try to make up a few positions tomorrow.
While the Brumos Racing team has three drivers in each of its two entries, the Alex Job entry will contest the 1,000-kilometer race with Hand and Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Cal. Auberlen is confident he and Hand can get the job done.
"I don't know how it came down that we would only have two drivers-we didn't even discuss it," Auberlen pointed out. "Our driver changes are so fast, it won't even matter-we can always change drivers-leave him (Hand) in if he feels good, leave me in if I feel good. The driver change part of it is a non-issue because we can do it so quickly.
"The team knows Joey and they know me. We know how to interact and we just go and hammer it out for seven hours. We did it a Watkins Glen."
The third Porsche-powered DP car, the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche-Riley of Hurley Haywood of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Portugal's Joao Barbosa and J.C. France of Daytona Beach, Fla., will start in 14th position.
"We were hoping for a rainout so we could start fourth," quipped France after his run. "The track was slick and my car was a little loose in the beginning. I had a good lap going in the end and overshot Turn 11 and got onto the marbles and kind of wasted that lap. But I think we have a good race car. We usually start in the back anyway. It's fun to charge up there and pass people."
Porsche set the pace in the morning practice session with the Alex Job entry obviously no longer hampered by its Thursday afternoon problem and Hand setting the quickest time of the weekend at 2:35.768, good for an average speed of 103.677 mph. Donohue wound up third fastest in the No. 58 Brumos entry at 2:36.410 (103.252 mph).
Farnbacher Loles Team Leads the Way in GT Class Qualifying
Keen pushed on his final lap to give the Farnbacher Loles Racing team its fourth pole of the season with a top time of 2:52.252 (93.756 mph) and record the first Grand Am pole of his career. He will share the car with Germany's Dominik Farnbacher and Eric Lux of Jacksonville, Fla. The Farnbacher Loles team laid claim to the front row following Henzler's lap of 2:52.724 (93.499). Henzler's partners in Saturday's race are Germany's Dirk Werner and Bryce Miller of Summit, N.J. Pumpelly recorded a time of 2:55.203 (92.177 mph) to earn third place on the starting grid for himself and Ted Ballou of Corona Del Mar, Cal., and Bryan Sellers of Dayton, Ohio.
"We'll kind of held back in the pits in the beginning," Keen explained. "I didn't really know what the rain was going to do-nobody did. The rain kind of moved through the track. You only get a few laps here-four or five-and the guy on the radio said: 'This is your final lap.'
"I knew it was kind of drying up a bit so I went into Turn One, crossed my fingers and kind of went for it. I knew I had some strong drivers in Porsches and other makes behind me so I had to go for it.
"The 86 and 87 cars are going for the win here and as you can see we've covered the front row. We are not fighting for the championship this year and we have really great drivers in the cars and the team is incredible. So we have everything we need to win a race times two- because we have two cars (on the front row)."
Porsche performance customer teams also gained the top spots of the speed chart in the morning session with Werner quickest in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup at 2:50.202 (94.885 mph) and teammate Lux in the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles entry second fastest at 2:50.048 (94.471 mph).
NOTES: Both Brumos Racing entries are a point apart for third place in the final point standings but four other teams have mathematical chances to wind up third as well. Currently, the No. 58 Brumos entry of Donohue and Law lead the No. 59 Brumos car of Barbosa and France, 313-312 -- J.C. France holds a 59-point margin over Mark Patterson for the Jim Trueman Award in DP Class. "It would be a thrill and an honor to win that," France said. "I want to bring it home for Porsche," TRG's Tim George Jr. has a 189-point lead over teammate Ted Ballou for the Bob Akin Award in GT. Both awards recognize gentlemen drivers who do not earn their primary incomes from racing ... George also has a five-point lead over former F-1 driver Ricardo Zonta for "Rookie of the Year" honors.