Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grand Am Rolex-Lime Rock practice

LAKEVILLE, Conn. - The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototypes made their long-awaited first appearance at Lime Rock Park on Tuesday, taking part in an unofficial test in preparation for the Memorial Day classic.

A total of 19 cars - including 11 Daytona Prototypes - tackled changing weather conditions throughout the six-hour session. The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 will race here on Monday, May 31, at 2 p.m. ET (SPEED, live), featuring both the Daytona Prototypes and production-based GT cars.

Competitors gave favorable reviews to the new 1.5-mile layout, using the optional uphill with the classic West Bend.

Daytona Prototype teams participating included two cars from both Michael Shank Racing and Starworks Motorsports, along with single cars from TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, Brumos Racing, Action Express Racing, SunTrust Racing, AIM Autosport and Krohn Racing.

GT teams included three Mazdas from SpeedSource plus the Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle Mazda, Racers Edge Mazda, Magnus Porsche, Turner BMW and Whelen Corvette.

By the end of the day and on a dry track, Daytona Prototype drivers were turning laps in the 49-second range. Drivers in the GT class, which last visited Lime Rock in 2008 on the old course, clocked in at 53 seconds.

"A lap goes so quick here," said Rojas, testing the championship-leading TELMEX BMW Riley with Joey Hand. "The biggest thing I remember is that you have to stay on top of things the entire time. There isn't a lot of time to do things here."

David Donohue is happy to see the Daytona Prototypes becoming part of the Memorial Day Weekend habit.

"Lime Rock was one of the tracks I grew up on and a place my father (Mark Donohue) was really good at," said Donohue, sharing the No. 59 Porsche Riley with Darren Law. "I'm definitely looking forward to coming back on Memorial Day and being part of that tradition."

The only incident of the day occurred late in the session, when Nick Longhi spun the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 into the guardrail on the back straightaway. Longhi was uninjured. The team currently leads the GT team championship by three points (118-115).

The Memorial Day weekend will also feature a Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race on Saturday, May 29. The Rolex Series events will be compressed into a single day, with practice at 9 a.m. and qualifying at 11:55 a.m.

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