Watkins Glen II: Doran-Lista race report

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Aug. 8 - Both of the DORAN JE4s in Friday's Bully Hill Vineyards 250 Grand Am Rolex Series race at Watkins Glen International finished on the podium. Bell Motorsports' DORAN JE4 Chevy ...

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Aug. 8 - Both of the DORAN JE4s in Friday's Bully Hill Vineyards 250 Grand Am Rolex Series race at Watkins Glen International finished on the podium. Bell Motorsports' DORAN JE4 Chevy #54 won the race and the brand-new Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Toyota #27 came in a solid third in both class and overall in its first race ever.

According to the pit notes, Doran-Lista Racing's lead driver, Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz., set the fastest lap of the race when he took only 1:11.723 to travel over the Glen's 2.45-mile short course at 7:34 p.m. He set the second-fastest lap of the race too, doing a 1:12.655 a few minutes earlier in the two-hour-and-45-minute event.

Theys' co-driver Friday was Bill Auberlen of Hermosa Beach, Calif., who was making his second start with the Lebanon, Ohio-based team.

The car, designed and built at Doran Racing's headquarters in Lebanon, Ohio, made its maiden shake-down run just one week ago at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Anyone watching Friday's race wouldn't have known it, however, as both the car and its Toyota engine performed beautifully.

Theys started second in class and third overall, but he passed Mike Borkowski on lap two to take the lead. In only one lap he stretched the interval to 4.9 seconds, and just 5 minutes later he had padded that to an incredible 16-second advantage. A little later he had a 20-second lead over his nearest rival.

There had been a rain shower before the start of the race and most of the cars, including the Doran-Lista #27, started on rain tires instead of slicks. One that didn't was the Bell Motorsports DORAN J4 Chevy, and when the track started to dry out, Terry Borcheller got around Theys at 7:05 p.m. in that car to take the lead.

The Doran-Lista team made its first stop under green at 7:11 p.m. to change to slicks and get some fuel, and it was around that point that the team went a lap down. With the fresh rubber Theys really showcased the car's speed, as he set the fastest lap of the race in that interval, but regaining that one lap proved to be easier said than done.

Theys was back in third place overall when the team made its second pit stop at 7:41 p.m. for fuel, more tires and to let Auberlen take the wheel. Ironically just 5 minutes later there was a full-course caution when Paul Newman spun and hit the wall.

Without a yellow pit stop the team slipped to sixth but Auberlen battled back through the standings, and went on to take the checkered flag in third place overall and in class, one lap down. He didn't have much time to celebrate as he was immediately off to Mid-Ohio, where he will practice tomorrow in another series for a race on Sunday.

"We got a lap down because I was too cautious," Theys said afterwards. "Kevin [Doran, the team owner] suggested that we go to slicks earlier, but the track was still quite greasy, and it was sprinkling at the bus stop and a couple of other places," he explained. "I played it safe, but the track dried out a lot faster than I thought it would. Five laps later it was dry and we were still on rain tires, and from that point on we were out of contention to win.

"But the race set-up was very good; the car handles well and the engine was very good," Theys continued. "We still have some improvements to make, but overall we're all very pleased."

Theys said he was more than ready for Auberlen to take the wheel in this one.

"By mistake, I must have touched a switch that blows cool air into my helmet and turned it off," he said. "There was a lot of hot air coming into the cockpit, and towards the end of my stint I was starting to get dizzy.

"During the driver change we solved that problem and it was OK for Bill," he added. "It was still very hot, but he was able to make it to the end with no problems."

The race will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern on SPEED Channel.

The next Rolex Series race is Sept. 19-21 at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada. With Theys, Fredy Lienhard Sr. and Fredy Lienhard Jr. behind the wheel, the Doran-Lista team won that race last year with its Dallara, setting a record for the largest margin of victory in series history.

For more information, see www.lista.com, www.doranracing.com, www.grandamerican.com and www.restartcommunications.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Didier Theys , Fredy Lienhard , Bill Auberlen , Terry Borcheller , Paul Newman , Mike Borkowski
Teams Doran Racing