Farnbacher Loles Racing led the GT class with two cars during the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, but late-race contact took the defending class championship car out of contention.
Pierre Kaffer of Salenstein, Switzerland, started the No. 87 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car from second on the GT grid. He pitted for an early driver change to Dirk Werner of Kissenbrück, Germany, who returned to the track in third place. Werner took the class lead after 96 minutes of the two-hour 45-minute race and led for almost an hour. With 22 minutes to go, he was hit by another car and spun off into a gravel trap, damaging the nose of the car. He lost two laps waiting for a tow, then returned to the race to finish 12th.
Eric Lux of Jacksonville, Fla., charged from his 11th-place GT start position in the No. 86 Porsche to lead the class during the first flurry of pitstops. He pitted from second and Leh Keen of Charleston, S.C., took the wheel, returning to the track eighth. He worked back through the field to finish 5th.
Steve Johnson of Bristol, Va., and Dave Lacey of Toronto had a strong race in the No. 88 Porsche. Lacey started 13th and raced as high as fourth before handing off to Johnson from 10th in class with about an hour left in the race. Johnson gained three positions to seventh.
car time driver action
86 start Lux
25m Lux pit – fuel
1h17 Lux GT class lead
1h38 change pit – Keen in, four tires, fuel
87 start Kaffer
25m change pit – Werner in, four tires, fuel
1h36 Werner GT class lead
2h09 Werner pit – fuel
2h23 Werner hit by another car, off track turn 6
88 start Lacey
25m Lacey pit – four tires, fuel
1h38 change pit – Johnson in, four tires, fuel
Leh Keen, No. 86: "Ever since we pulled the car off the trailer on Friday, it was pretty good. We had the fastest Porsche race time! Eric did a great job – he came from the back and gave me the car in second. There was a lot of carnage the whole race. I didn't know if I wanted to just keep it on track and go for a solid finish or maybe go for a podium again. There was a lot of stuff going on in front and behind me; a lot of people got aggressive and went off into the sand traps and their races ended. We had a good car and a solid car; we're very happy with a top-five. We've got a lot of momentum from the last couple of races."
Eric Lux, No. 86: "The Farnbacher Loles team has consistently given us great cars for every race. Today was no different. I was determined to make up for my poor qualifying position and hand the car over to my teammate in a respectable place. Early on, I made a run towards the front, then was squeezed wide in turn two by a competitor and had a spin. I think I rejoined around 20th position and ran as hard as I could, keeping the tires under the car. We double-stinted our tires and stayed out as much as possible; the car was very good on old tires, so I could run quick times. We led the race for a short while, then I could not keep the 70 Mazda behind any longer and had to give in to second. I turned the car over to Leh and he did a stellar job keeping it up front and avoiding the mayhem!"
Pierre Kaffer, No. 87: "The race was perfect in the beginning – I could go the same speed as the [class pole-winning] Mazda. It was quite exciting to race with all the traffic, and our car was really good. We made our planned stop in the first full-course yellow caution and Dirk drove to the end. The car was really fast. For me, it was great again to be part of the team. It's really very organized and professional. Hopefully, we'll be together again next time in Watkins Glen."
Dirk Werner, No. 87: "It seems like we have a period when all the bad luck comes to us, especially in Grand-Am the last two races. The car was great and the pit strategy was so good, we were in front at the end. But another driver thought perhaps it would be good to drive through my car – that didn't work out, obviously. I don't think we have a chance on the championship now, but I hope we can get some good results to get the motivation back to the team and the drivers. That's all I can ask for now."
Dave Lacey, No. 88: "We're very happy with the result – the seventh-place finish was terrific! We had a game plan going into the weekend to try to stay clean, not get into anybody and keep the car in one piece. I managed to do that in my stint and then Steve did a great job in the second stint, just chipping away and getting us up into seventh place. We're happy with the result and we look forward to improving the car for our next race."