GRAND-AM Championship Weekend at Lime Rock Park presented by BMW
The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series has found a new home for their season finale. It was announced during the Championship Weekend that GRAND-AM will once again close out their season schedule at Lime Rock Park in 2013. The dates are September 27-28.
Just like the Road Racing Center of the East’s undulating surface, the plot for this year’s Championships had many twists and turns. The scenario for the Daytona Prototype Championship was that Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas could clinch the title with a finish in ninth place or better. The problem for Starwork’s Ryan Dalziel is that only nine DPs were entered in the race! Owner Peter Baron then entered a third Starworks car and the strategy almost paid off.
GRAND-AM’s J.J. O’Malley explained that Baron entered Dalziel in all three cars, but it was against the rules to hop from one to another in the race. A driver must start the race in the car in which they designate. This explanation would come in handy in another Championship during the weekend.
Pruett and Rojas drove the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley to a seventh place finish to clinch the Championship over Dalziel, who finished in sixth. Pruett qualified the car and started the race. If any cars dropped out, he would be Champ after the 30 minute mark. The Championship is more than just the driver decisions on track, it is a total team effort that wins titles and Ganassi and his drivers have a bunch.
Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor won their third straight at Lime Rock for Wayne Taylor’s Sun Trust squad. Taylor crossed the finish line less than a half second in front of Antonio Garcia, who along with Richard Westbrook started from pole in their No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP. Third place went to Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO Corvette DP, making it a Chevrolet podium sweep for the first year cars. The superior downforce of the Corvette DP made a big difference on Lime Rock’s short road course.
The GT win went to the No. 57 Stevenson Camaro of John Edwards and Robin Liddell. Andy Lally was leading in the No. 44 Magnus Porsche when the car slowed with two minutes remaining and retired. Jim Norman and Dion von Moltke finished second in the No. 51 APR Audi R8, followed by Johannes van Overbeek and Alessandro Balzan in the No. 61 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458. The third place finish for Scuderia Corsa secured the GT Manufacturer Championship for Ferrari.
Saturday morning’s final Continental Tire Sports Car Series Grand Sport Race had Championship implications as well. Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi’s win in the No. 13 Rum Bum Porsche was good enough for the title, but the team’s points were stripped when Plumb, who was also entered in the team’s BMW, failed to designate a car before the race. Longhi also missed the 30 minute minimum time in the car by two minutes. Bryan Sellers and Mark Boden finished second in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW, followed by the No. 55 Multimatic Aston Martin Vantage of Scott Maxwell and Joe Foster.
David Empringham and John Farano ran in the top three in the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche, but fell back to sixth at the finish. Rum Bum’s exclusion from the points gave the season Driver’s Championship to Farano and Empringham, but Rum Bum still scored the GS Team Championship. Nine cars finished on the lead lap. .
The CTSCC Street Tuner race was held under wet conditions Friday afternoon. The title went down to the checkered flag as the No. 31 MazdaSpeed3, driven by Pierre Kleinuning, held off Andy Lally in the No. 10 KIA. The win was good enough to clinch the season title for Kleinubing and Jayson Clunie.
Holyoke ’s Eric Curran entered three races during Championship Weekend, finishing seventh in GT on Saturday. In the CTSCC GS race, his teammate Lawson Aschenbach crashed on lap 43 and the CKS Autosport Camaro was classified 26th. In Saturday’s ST race, Eric drove a Redcom, Berg Racing Porsche Boxster to an eighth place finish. Add those finishing positions up and it comes to 41. Not a bad score for the front nine.
Some “experts” cast doubt on whether or not Lime Rock Park will stay on the schedule of a combined ALMS/GRAND-AM series in 2014. Considering that GRAND-AM has already announced their intentions for next year and that the ALMS has a long association with Lime Rock Park, indications would suggest that Northeast race fans will be setting their sites on the Berkshires for years to come,
Copyright 2001-2013 Greg Sarni, USA