Sebring: Doran-Lista Racing preview
Doran-Lista Racing gears up for 2003 ALMS season. LEBANON, Ohio, Feb. 26 - Proving that there is no "off season" in racing for the sports' top teams, the staff of Doran Racing continued to work extremely hard after the last checkered flag of 2002 ...
Doran-Lista Racing gears up for 2003 ALMS season.
LEBANON, Ohio, Feb. 26 - Proving that there is no "off season" in racing for the sports' top teams, the staff of Doran Racing continued to work extremely hard after the last checkered flag of 2002 in preparation for 2003.
Earlier this month at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona at Florida's Daytona International Speedway, the company delivered the very first Doran JE4 Daytona Prototype to customer Forest Barber and Bell Motorsports for the 2003 Grand Am Rolex series. It is hard at work on the second such car for another customer, Oliver Kuttner. Doran Racing plans to build three such closed-cockpit cars for that series this year, continuing its role as a major player in the Grand Am Rolex series.
The Bell Motorsports Doran JE4 #54 will run its second race this Saturday, March 1, when Terry Borcheller and Forest Barber drive it in the Nextel Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. Although the car dropped out of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with engine problems relatively early, Borcheller set one of the fastest laps of the race in it before the engine expired.
In addition to working on the second Doran JE4, Kevin Doran and his staff are also busy working on another race car. They are preparing the same open-cockpit car that won last year's Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona for this year's American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season opener. The car, the Doran-Lista Dallara #27, also took lead driver Didier Theys to Grand Am's 2002 Sports Racing Prototype drivers' title.
Now it's being readied for the prestigious Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., which is just a few weeks away. As part of its preparation for Sebring, the team tested the Dallara at Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center in Braselton, Ga., earlier this month. The March 15 Sebring race will be covered live on SPEED Channel beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time and ending at 11 p.m. Eastern time that day.
The famous red and white Dallara, which the team received at the very end of the 2001 season, isn't eligible to compete in the Grand Am Rolex series anymore due to that organization's switch to the new Daytona Prototype format for its top class. Luckily with a few changes the car is eligible to compete in the ALMS, and actually it was originally designed with that organization's rules in mind.
The team has funding in place to compete in six or seven ALMS races this year, and hopes to find additional sponsorship in order to complete the entire 10-race schedule.
The ALMS series is sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and administered by the Panoz Motor Sports Group, which among many other things generates the G Force chassis used in the Indy Racing League. The ALMS series' rules are patterned after the same rules that are used for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, and budgets to run the ALMS series are considerably higher than those needed to run in the Grand Am Rolex series. The latter is sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association and follows the philosophies of its big brother, stock car ruler NASCAR.
The Doran-Lista Dallara will look almost exactly the same as it did last year, but there will be some changes due to the switch in series.
First is the name of its class. Instead of running in the top Grand Am class of 2002, Sports Racing Prototype, now it will be running in the top class of ALMS, the Le Mans Prototype 900 class, or LMP 900. These cars can't weigh any less than 900 kgs, hence the class name.
The Dallara will still carry the blue and white logo of Lista, the world-wide leader in modular storage systems, as its primary sponsor, but the car will look a little different aerodynamically this year. The ALMS permits the use of a diffuser to help funnel the air beneath the car to give it more downforce. This year the car will also have a little bit smaller rear wing.
It will sport Michelin tires in 2003. It will be powered by a MG five-liter engine. It will use Brembo carbon-fiber brakes instead of steel brakes.
"You can brake a little later with carbon-fiber brakes and they last longer, but they're also a lot more expensive," Theys noted.
The team's lead driver will remain Theys, a native of Belgium and a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., who will be joined by Fredy Lienhard Sr. of Niederteufen, Switzerland, in most of the races.
The team's crew chief remains Jeff Graves of Cincinnati, Ohio, with Ron Mathis of Indianapolis again serving as the engineer. The team itself is based in Lebanon, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, and most of the pit crew members live in the Cincinnati area.
For more information, see www.doranracing.com, www.lista.com, www.imsaracing.net and www.grand-am. The www.imsaracing.net Web site will feature live timing and scoring of the Sebring race.