Virginia (VIR): Doran-Lista preview

As season begins to wind down, Doran-Lista heads to VIR this weekend still leading the point standings as it's done all year. ALTON, Va., Aug. 28 -- In less on-track time than it took Doran-Lista Racing to win this year's Rolex 24 Hours of ...

As season begins to wind down, Doran-Lista heads to VIR this weekend still leading the point standings as it's done all year.

ALTON, Va., Aug. 28 -- In less on-track time than it took Doran-Lista Racing to win this year's Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the championship battle that the Lebanon, Ohio-based team has led all year will be determined.

This time the action will be spread over three different weekends, however, beginning with a six-hour race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) here Sunday.

Then it's on to Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec Sept. 13-15 for another six-hour event. The Grand Am Rolex Series is silent in October in order to give teams time to prepare for the last showdown of the year back at Daytona International Speedway in Florida Nov. 8-10. That race is scheduled for 300 miles or three hours, whichever comes first.

Sunday's race at VIR will be taped by Speed Channel for broadcast from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on Sept. 7.

The Doran-Lista Racing team leads the point standings by virtue of its three victories, two second-place finishes and two fourths in the seriesi first seven events. As further evidence that Kevin Doran's team is the one to beat, his car has won the pole position in five of the first seven events.

VIRis 3.27-mile road course hosted its first sports car race in 1957 but it closed due to financial difficulties in the seventies. It reopened in 2000. This weekend is its first Grand Am Rolex Series race ever.

Belgium native Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Mauro Baldi of Monaco will share the driving duties in the Doran-Lista Dallara Judd #27 at VIR.

Although many followers of the series will be getting their first look at VIR this weekend, like usual Doran-Lista team owner Kevin Doran is ahead of the game. He conducted a three-day test at VIR in December 2000 and another two-day test here a few weeks ago.

Doran says fans and drivers attending the VIR event this weekend are in for a treat.

"It's a fantastic testing track, with a great mix of all types of corners, from the slowest to the fastest," he said. "The crew at VIR is very professional and very accommodating. The track surface has good mechanical grip, and we should see some fast lap times."

Theys was among the drivers working with Doran at both tests. He loves the layout, but he thinks getting through traffic will be a challenge this weekend.

"It's a very natural course with lots of elevation changes and left- and right-hand turns," he said. "However, it's very narrow for a mixture of sports cars and GT cars like we have in the Grand Am Rolex Series. The long course, which is the course we'll be using this weekend, has one long straightaway and the rest of the course is twisty. The major problem is the width of the track. Some areas are quite fast, and you don't want to go off in those fast areas."

Theys is going into the weekend with optimism, however, because he said the team's recent test at VIR was very successful. "We tried to improve the chassis in the shock-absorber department, and we improved it quite a lot," he said. "We tried different set-ups and different aerodynamic packages to make the car faster, and I think we have a good set-up. We'll just do our best and see what happens!"

For more information, see www.lista.com, www.doranracing.com, www.grand-am.com and www.restartcommunications.com.

-dlr/lm-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Didier Theys , Mauro Baldi , Kevin Doran