Miller/Marquis Jet take second at Laguna Seca GT3 Cup final The 2006 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge series finished up at Laguna Seca with equal parts drama, frustration and excitement. The Farnbacher Loles Racing team dominated the time charts all ...
Miller/Marquis Jet take second at Laguna Seca GT3 Cup final
The 2006 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge series finished up at Laguna Seca with equal parts drama, frustration and excitement. The Farnbacher Loles Racing team dominated the time charts all weekend but when the checkered flag fell, Bryce Miller was the lone Farnbacher Loles racer on the podium, driving his Marquis Jet Porsche to a well deserved second place finish, and his fifth podium of the season!
While most of the team needed to travel from the East Coast, California resident Shawn Price was able to drive to the track. Shawn's knowledge of the twisty road course was evident from the start of practice as he led every session, even though he had not driven the 997 there. Shawn started things off in the first practice with a 1:30.034, followed closely by Bryce at 1:30.255. Dino Loles and Tom Pank joined Shawn and Bryce posting consistent practice laps in the top 10.
Saturday's qualifying session was marked by more intensity than normal. During the past two years, Laguna Seca has undergone significant changes to make the track less dangerous for the motorcycles that compete in the very popular spring MotoGP race. Unfortunately some of these "improvements" have had a negative impact on car racing. By cutting down the curbing, the cars are dragging more sand and gravel onto the racing track, making the surface more slippery while the new gravel traps act like quicksand to the cars, burying them up to the underbody and necessitating a tow vehicle for removal. The traps played a significant role in qualifying when two separate incidents reduced the number of hot laps dramatically. In fact the field was not set until literally the last second of the session. Within the final 30 seconds, Shawn Price set the fastest lap, only to be bested by Kevin Roush who was barely .1 seconds quicker. As time expired, Bryce Miller grabbed the pole by ripping off a blistering 1:29.420. Bryce was the only driver under 1:30 all weekend and even he did not know if he had made it across the start/finish line in time. Dino also set his fastest lap at the end of the session. His 1:31.149 was more than 2 seconds quicker than the rest of the 996 class and was good enough for 7th overall.
At the start of the race, Shawn Price moved his Savvion/Centennial Motorsports 997 to the front. Shawn pulled out considerable leads only to be reeled back in during the three caution periods. On the final restart, with only one lap to go, Shawn came together with Roush in turn two in an unfortunate racing incident. Shawn spun and fought his way back to ultimately finish fourth. With nearly half then race run under caution, the frustration of the drivers and fans was evident. Even with the restarts, Bryce stayed out of trouble and drove consistently all race to get his second straight podium finish and fourth in the last five races.
After clinching the 996 driver's championship at the Road Atlanta round, Dino Loles was looking to "just have some fun" at Laguna. The lack of pressure did not seem to affect his intensity on the track as evidenced by his speeds. Having never driven the difficult Laguna Seca road course before, seeing Dino's name at the top of the 996 timing charts in every practice session was impressive indeed. He continued his flawless freshman season by qualifying his Children's Tumor Foundation/Makes and Models Magazine Porsche on the pole for the seventh straight time. Unfortunately, Dino's race ended before it started when his shift lever broke completely off on the out lap. The broken shifter was the only thing keeping Dino from going for the perfect sweep. His seven poles and six wins will be tough to beat and give him some great memories for the off-season.
As the weekend came to a close, team owner Gregory Loles was pleased. "By all measures this has been a fantastic year. In only our second full season, we've had 12 poles and 25 top fives in qualifying. The drivers have done an outstanding job as well with 9 wins and 14 podiums. I think a lot of people have taken notice of the quality of our team and the level of preparation and set-up we stand for. I am very proud of this team and the results reflect how hard everyone has worked, from the drivers right through to the crew."