WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 6, 2009) - Timo Bernard and co-driver Romain Dumas produced a solid podium finish in Penske Racing's No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley Saturday, taking the checkered flag in the third position at Watkins Glen ...
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 6, 2009) - Timo Bernard and co-driver Romain Dumas produced a solid podium finish in Penske Racing's No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley Saturday, taking the checkered flag in the third position at Watkins Glen International Raceway.
Bernhard, who qualified the car in the sixth starting spot on Friday, drove the first stint of the Sahlen's Six-Hours of the Glen endurance race. Strategy and great pit stops helped move the Penske Racing-prepared machine into podium contention for the second time in the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season.
"It was for sure good for the [Verizon Wireless crew]," Bernhard said. "To finish third is almost like a win for us. We managed our fuel and Roger [Penske] had us set on a good strategy."
On lap 7 of the 188-lap event, Penske called Bernhard to the pits for fuel under green flag conditions. Bernhard returned to the track in 16th place but the tactic put the red and black Porsche on target for a potential win. Bernhard drove a smart race and 19 laps later the No. 12 was posted first overall while other teams serviced their race cars with fuel.
For the remainder of the event held at the 3.4 mile, 11-turn circuit, the Verizon Wireless car remained in the top-10. Bernhard and Dumas both led during their stints for a combined total of 14 laps.
Dumas drove just two hours of the race but . In the end, Dumas was pleased with the finish and eager to hear the championship points spread.
"It was a tough stint," Dumas said. "Timo had a lot of understeer so the team changed the wicker to help him. When I took over, the car was a handful so they changed it again to help me out. The car was better but still a handful.
"It was a good race with a good result. The points look good, we were on podium. We did what we could with what we had. Timo and I couldn't possibly ask the crew for anything more."
On lap 125, Bernhard got back in the car and with 37 laps to go he was in the lead. After two competitors got by him, Bernhard raced patiently and, with the help of the Verizon Wireless crew, he stayed in the hunt until the end. "If it hadn't been for a late-race caution, we could have maybe been higher on the podium," Dumas said. "Timo was right there. We had the fuel and could make it. That caution was not in good timing."
The eventual winner and second place car pitted in sequence. Without the last caution, both teams would have been forced to bring their car down pit road for fuel and the lead would have been relinquished.
"Just a little higher on the podium," reiterated Bernhard said. "We were so close."