TRG on Pole in GT for Rolex 24 At Daytona - Controversy ends TRG one-two
Daytona Beach, FL (January 27, 2011) - TRG Porsche ace Dominik Farnbacher will start the No. 66 TRG/Porsche from the pole in GT for this weekend's Grand-Am Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16 Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona.
After the GT qualifying session, Andy Lally in the No. 67 TRG/Sargent & Lundy/South Point Hotel & Casino/Porsche had the fastest lap time. However, in post qualifying inspection the blue and black Porsche was found to have the rear spoiler mounted too far to the rear by only one millimeter and the time was disallowed. The infraction ruined what would have been a TRG one-two at the front of the GT field.
Dominik Farnbacher, the 2008 GT class winner at Daytona, inherited the pole in GT. His lap time of 1:48.781 has the 67 car in perfect position for the start of the twice-around-the-clock race. Farnbacher is joined in the 66 by Ben Keating, Tim George Jr., and Lucas Luhr.
"It is too bad for Andy and the team, they deserved the pole," Farnbacher said. "I am happy to start from the pole. We still have it for TRG. Without Kevin I wouldn't be here right now, so it is nice that TRG still has the pole. My lap was really good. The car was phenomenal. It was really good in the Horseshoe and really stable under braking into the Bus Stop. The only issue I had was with the brake bias. I was having some tire lock-up and the brake bias was not really helping. I had to brake a little earlier to stay safe and it worked out to having a pretty good lap."
The 67 team was able to backup their practice speeds as they were the fastest GT car in each of the two free sessions today. Lally, a two Rolex 24 Hour winner, laid down a fast lap of 1:48.487 on his fifth circuit of qualifying to secure, at the time, the pole position. The post qualifying infraction sends Lally to the back of the GT field for the start on Saturday. Lally's teamed in the 67 with Steve Bertheau, Brendan Gaughan, Spencer Pumpelly, and Wolf Henzler.
"This was a really nit-picky call," Lally said. "We went down to tech to measure the wing before qualifying, we knew we were close, but we thought we were within the spec. We have such a good car. We now have to make our way through the 30 car GT field safely. We did this last year. We started from the back in 2010 and by the first pit stop we were third. We will have to do that again. On the positive side the crew has really been hustling to give us a great car. Kevin has been working his tail off to field fast cars as you can see on the timing sheet. My team is made up of veterans and we have been working hard on the set-up of the car since the test back at Homestead. I had a dream lap, I caught a sniff of a draft down the back stretch and that gave us that little extra push for the fast time."
Ryan Eversley put in a lap of 1:49.451 in the No. 4 TRG/Children's Tumor Foundation/Porsche that will have him starting from the seventh position. Eversley ran his fastest lap of the day by more than a second. Eversley is partnered in the No. 4 with Ron Yarab, Daniel Graeff, Richard Zahn, and Kenny Wallace.
"I was easily a second faster in qualifying," Eversley said. "We weren't that happy with the handling of the car in practice. We talked with Kevin and the crew guys and we got the thing dialed in - it's a bullet. It is nice to start in the top 10 for the race. At the start we will be racing with good guys toward the front of the field that don't make dumb rookie mistakes. Being in the top 10 is really important to our effort and everyone at the Children's Tumor Foundation. I was able to get a huge tow from one of the RX-8s and I was just flying into Turn One. It was amazing the draft that I got."
Jeroen Bleekemolen drove the No. 54 TRG/Black Swan/GMG/Porsche to a time of 1:49.554 that will see him come to the green from the sixth row in GT. The 54 guys were third in each practice session, but a mechanical gremlin that couldn't be remedied prior to qualifying held the team back. Bleekemolen shares the car with Tim Pappas James Sofronas, Bret Curtis, and Patrick Pilet.
"In practice we were really going well," Bleekemolen said. "We were still trying to improve and then we had something go wrong with the car which has us about a second off. We will find the problem and fix it for the race. We will be right up there with the fast guys. In qualifying it was the best that we could do. It is disappointing. I compete with these guys all of the time and I am able to run with them. We have a top three car, we just need to find the problem and we will be good for the race."
With only three laps in the car prior to qualifying, Ken Dobson took the No. 53 TRG/Nadeau Motorsports/North American League/Porsche out and posted a time of 1:51.983 which will have him starting from the 12th row in GT. Dobson shares the seat with Coulter Mulligan, Jim Michaelian, Bob Doyle, and Dr. Joe Castellano.
"Qualifying was the longest stint I've had in the car," Dobson said. "I was able to come to terms with the handling. I had a chat with Andy between the last practice and qualifying and I applied the tips he gave me and it worked out pretty well. He pointed out what I was leaving on the table and it helped tremendously. Every lap I was getting faster and there is still more to gain. I only had three laps in the car in practice and with the qualifying laps I now have a total of eight. For the race we have to hold the car in the top 10 and we will see what 24 Hours bring us."
Team owner Kevin Buckler is disappointed with the way qualifying worked out in the tech inspection line, but happy with the hard work and results of the team so far this weekend.
"It is great to have a TRG Porsche on pole to start the Rolex 24 Hour," Buckler said. "It is a once in a lifetime opportunity though to take the entire front row, one-two, for the start of this monster event and I thought we earned it. One millimeter off on the way the rear bumper was mounted and this is what got us? It would have been better to start one-two, but we will have the 67 up there in no time. This will motivate the drivers and the crew to do that little extra to prepare these cars for the race. Andy had a great lap. He is really dialed in around here. The 67 guys had the car at the top of the time sheet all day. Dominik and the 66 team also did a great job. He didn't have a ride here up until after the test and he really proved that he is one of the best Porsche drivers there is today. Ryan did a really good job. He improved on his time by more than a second and was our surprise of the day. Jeroen and the 54 guys had some car trouble or he would have been up there pushing Andy and Dominik for the pole for sure. We will put every effort into finding out what happened with their car. The 53 guys are now on pace and the long night practice will help them to get acclimated to the car as well as some running tomorrow. It is great to start at the front. The key will be to run a clean, fast and very clever race. The biggest chess game in the world is about to begin!"
The Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona will be televised live on the SPEED Channel in two segments. The first segment will air from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 29th, rejoining the action from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 30. MRN will broadcast four live segments, including two hours of coverage at the start and finish of the event, for SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Channel 128 plus more than 60 MRN affiliates throughout North America: 3-5 p.m. and 8-8:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Jan. 29; 7-7:30 and 2-4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Jan. 30. Six short updates are scheduled for the affiliates: 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. (ET) on Jan. 29; Midnight, 6 a.m., 10 a.m. and Noon (ET) on Jan. 30.
TRG Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona entries:
No. 4 TRG/Children's Tumor Foundation/Porsche
Ron Yarab, Daniel Graeff, Richard Zahn, Kenny Wallace, Ryan Eversley
No. 54 TRG/Black Swan/GMG/Porsche
Tim Pappas, Jeroen Bleekemolen, James Sofronas, Bret Curtis, Patrick Pilet
No. 67 TRG/Sargent & Lundy/South Point Hotel & Casino/Porsche
Steve Bertheau, Brendan Gaughan, Spencer Pumpelly, Andy Lally, Wolf Henzler
No. 66 TRG/Porsche
Ben Keating, Tim George Jr., Dominik Farnbacher, Lucas Luhr
No. 53 TRG/Nadeau Motorsports/North American League/Porsche
Coulter Mulligan, Jim Michaelian, Bob Doyle, Dr. Joe Castellano, Ken Dobson
TRG is a full-service motorsports company offering a total driver ladder approach. This approach starts with track days, goes to club events, up into street stock series and culminates in the ultimate goal of professional motorsports. With sports car focused facilities in Petaluma, California (Infineon Raceway) and Millville, New Jersey (New Jersey Motorsports Park) the team can offer turn-key support as well as arrive-and-drive programs.
The company's NASCAR operations are headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina. The team fields a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry and has the capacity to run ARCA, Nationwide and the Camping World Truck Series.
The Racer's Group was founded in 1993 and has been competing at the top level of motor racing. The team boasts Rolex Series GT championships in 2005 and 2006 and holds the record for the most wins in Grand-Am with 31. The team's resume is highlighted by five championships, three Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona victories and a Le Mans 24 Hour win.
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