Watkins Glen II: Porsche Motorsport preview
FOUR RACES LEFT MEAN PORSCHE TEAMS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS AT THE GLEN WATKINS GLEN, NY - August 4, 2009 - Only four races remain in the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season, starting with the Crown Royal ...
FOUR RACES LEFT MEAN PORSCHE TEAMS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS AT THE GLEN
WATKINS GLEN, NY - August 4, 2009 - Only four races remain in the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season, starting with the Crown Royal 200 at the Glen Friday Aug. 7 at the legendary Watkins Glen road course.
For Porsche factory drivers Timo Bernard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France), that represents only four more chances to reach the top step of the podium and regain their championship winning ways in their #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley prototype.
For Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) and Dirk Werner (Germany), that's only four more potential stumbling blocks in their clear path to the Acxiom GT class driver and team titles. They'll share the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in quest of their fifth victory of the season in defense of their comfortable 25-point lead in the GT championship standings
The Crown Royal 200 at the Glen gets the green flag at 6:30 pm Friday, and will be aired on a same-day, tape delay basis on Speed TV starting at 8 pm ET Friday. Live timing and scoring, notes and results will be available on www.grand-am.com, with regular updates also posted on www.twitter.com/RolexSeries.
"We are always hopeful, but for the Glen we are more than hopeful," Bernhard says. "We are anticipating doing well there again and moving up the podium. With its many fast corners and its roller coaster characteristic, this circuit has everything that makes a race track difficult and interesting."
Bernhard and Dumas had one of their best races earlier this season at Watkins Glen. They finished third in the Sahleen's Six Hours at the Glen June 6 on the 3.4-mile long course. This time the sports car race will be only two hours in length and be run on the faster 2.45-mile, 11-turn short course they'll share with NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors.
"We both missed the test at Watkins Glen because we had to leave for Le Mans," Bernhard says, "but Ryan (Briscoe) gave us good information about the car. It was helpful to get his opinion and from what we've learned since then, it gives us hope."
This has been a difficult season for Bernard and Dumas, who won two American Le Mans Series LMP2 championships together before coming to Grand-Am. Officially, they are rookies in Grand-Am and consequently lead the MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year chase with 198 points.
Those 198 points also rank them fifth in the Daytona Prototype championship standings. Thanks to 15-point penalties assessed to the top two finishing teams at the most recent race at Barber Motorsports Park, the Penske Porsche pair are only 18 points out of first place (a maximum of 35 points can be earned in a single race). Four drivers are tied for the lead with 216 points and another pair are only one point behind them.
"We just want to win races," says Dumas simply. "We are used to winning and the entire team wants to win."
That is a sentiment echoed by the two Brumos Porsche Riley teams, including Rolex 24 at Daytona winners David Donohue (Malvern, PA) and Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ) in the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley, and the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley shared by Joao Barbosa (Portugal) and JC France (USA).
"If we could finish a race without having any problems, we could have a top finish," Law says.
In their most recent race at Barber, things were looking up as Donohue took the Brumos Porsche Riley to the front of the field, holding the lead for thirteen laps before contact from a GT car caused a flat tire and cost him the chance for a win. Donohue voiced frustration, saying,
"I really don't know what to predict for Watkins Glen, because we seem to be all over the map right now. We had a great run going at Barber, even at Daytona in July before we had that fire, and obviously, in January. We just seem to be struggling at the other tracks. We have tested at the Glen, and we had a productive test at New Jersey which I feel led to our competitiveness at Barber. We are still hunting, and to get to the form we were in last year, we just need to hunt some more," said Donohue.
Keen and Werner have enjoyed a dream season. They have four GT victories and their defensive fifth place finish at Barber ended a three-race win streak.
"For us now it is, of course, more important to win the title than to collect race victories," Werner says, "so for this reason we must try to keep the risk of retirement as low as possible."
They lead a contingent of at least seven Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entries, three each from Porsche Motorsports customer teams Farnbacher Loles and TRG and a new team led by Porsche veterans Paul and Bryce Miller.
Porsche factory Junior driver Marco Holzer (Germany) joins Eric Lux (Jacksonville, FL) in the #86 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, while the team #84 Porsche GT3 Cup will be driven by Philadelphia's John Tancredi (his Grand-Am debut) and two-time Rolex 24 winner Jim Pace of Ridgeland, Miss
Andy Lally (Dacula, GA), who co-drives the #67 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Justin Marks (Rocklin, CA), will also make his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut at Watkins Glen. Lally will drive a second TRG Chevrolet Impala in the weekend's feature event. The other two TRG Rolex Porsche entries include the #65 John Potter/Craig Stanton racer, and the #68 Josemanuel Gutierrez/Scott Schroeder Porsche.
Former IMSA star and Parsippany, NJ Porsche dealer Paul Miller, veteran race engineer Eric Barrett, and successful Rolex Grand-Am racer Bryce Miller have formed a new racing team which will debut a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup GT car this weekend with Bryce Miller and Kevin Roush at the helm.
Bryce Miller's resume includes a Rolex Series GT team championship, class victories and a GT podium in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. He finished second in class, fifth overall in the Total 24 Hours of Spa last month, adding another top result to the 21 podium finishes he earned from 2006 through 2008. Kevin Roush of Upland, Calif., will share driving duty with Bryce Miller. Roush is a Porsche specialist, both on track and in his business, GAS Motorsport.
Bryce's father, Paul, has extensive experience as both a driver and team owner. He led the Porsche factory effort in Trans-Am Series racing in the 1980s. He was also a leading IMSA endurance racer, driving with sports-car stars Bob Akin, Brian Redman and Hans Stuck. He competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times and in the Daytona 24-hour race nine times, topping the GTO class in 1988. Eric Barrett started his 23-year race career as a mechanic on Paul Miller's winning Trans-Am team, was later crew chief for Paul Miller's SCCA team, then coached Bryce Miller to more than 60 International Karting Federation wins. Barrett's international experience includes work with top professional drivers like Bob Akin, Charles Mendez and Dave White.
-credit: porsche motorsport
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Watkins Glen Int'l news 2009-08-05