Give Pontiac 50th Rolex Series Class Victory Monday at Lime Rock Park
Pair now leads the driver point standings by 19 after six races
Paul Edwards took the lead with three laps remaining in Monday’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 GT race, the GT Classic at Lime Rock Park and went on to give himself and co-driver Kelly Collins the duo’s third victory of 2008.
Edwards was running second to Banner Racing teammate Ron Fellows on Lap 162 of 164 when Fellows slipped on some dirt on the 1.53-mile, seven-turn track and spun. Edwards drove by and beat Nick Ham by 46.232 seconds in the annual Memorial Day weekend race.
The two Banner Racing teams ran near the front all afternoon, and ran 1-2 for much of the last half hour before Fellows spun. Edwards and Collins now own a 19-point advantage over Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George Jr., who finished sixth.
Ham did two stints in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 after the car’s driver cooling unit failed 20 minutes into the race. It was Ham and Tremblay’s second straight podium in six races this season; the duo won the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.
It was a record-setting day for Pontiac, which earned its fifth straight Rolex Series victory, four of the top-five finishing positions and the manufacturer’s 50th Rolex Series victory. Taking third, one lap down, were Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R.
Fellows, in the No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R started by Jan Magnussen, recovered to finish fourth. Finishing fifth was pole winner Tim Lewis Jr. and Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R.
The winners averaged a record 103.109 mph in the caution-free race. The Daytona Prototype teams rejoin the Rolex GT competitors Saturday, June 7 for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.
NOTES & STATISTICS
- The GT win by Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards was the pair’s second straight triumph, third victory of the season and fifth in the series’ last eight races.
- Collins and Edwards’ win was the fifth straight victory by Pontiac. Mazda was the only other power plant to win in Rolex Series GT competition this season (Rolex 24 At Daytona).
- Collins and Edwards now have the most Rolex Series GT victories of the season. Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis each have two wins in 2008, while Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, David Haskell and Raphael Matos own one win.
- Collins and Edwards have nine straight top-10 finishes dating back to last season.
- Edwards has now led all six Rolex Series GT races this season, the only driver to do so.
-Three of the six GT races this season have been won from the front row (RumBum.com 250 from third and Mexico City 250 from fourth). Monday’s race was won from the second row. All six races have been won from the front tow rows.
- After its fifth class victory this season, Pontiac now has 50 career Rolex Series class victories and is now the outright leader, one over Porsche. Porsche has yet to win a Rolex Series race in 2008.
- Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay earned their second straight podium this season and four top-five finish this season. The team made two driver changes at Lime Rock after the driver cooling unit gave out during the opening 20 minutes of the race.
- After a slow start, No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R drivers Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis landed third place, their third podium of 2008. A wire plug came loose early in the race and the team fell to 18th and eventually a lap down. However, as it has in the team’s two race wins, smart pit strategy and the lack of cautions assisted the duo.
- Liddell earned the race’s fastest lap time of 53.283 seconds (98.149 mph).
- Pontiac not only won, but continued its dominance elsewhere. Four of the top five cars were Pontiac GXP.Rs. Ron Fellows and Jan Magnussen were fourth in the No. 06 Banner Racing GXP.R and the polesitting No. 72 GXP.R of Tim Lewis Jr. and Lawson Aschenbach were fifth.
- The caution-free race was the first of its kind since last year’s June 23, 2007, when the Daytona Prototypes went green-to-checkered at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The last GT-only race without a caution was April 28, 2007 at Virginia International Raceway.
- The No. 68 TRG Porsche GT3 and the No. 35 Phoenix Performance Corvette teams each employed three drivers in their cars.
PAUL EDWARDS (No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R): “I didn’t know if I was going to get by him, but I was definitely going to make a last attempt to get by. (It was) a sweet win for Pontiac here and dominating performance this weekend. I didn’t know if we were going to be this strong or not. The Pirellis are treating this car sweet. I think a lot of cars are running a little stiffer than ours. We just ran smooth.”
KELLY COLLINS (No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R): (after getting out of the car) “The balance was just fine. Overall, we were lacking grip, front and rear. Everything was different for everybody because of the changes to the weather. The Pontiac GXP.R was terrific. We’re pretty happy with where we are now.” (whether the team’s No. 06 car would pull over for the No. 07) “Those guys (Ron Fellows and Jan Magnussen) came over here for one thing and one thing only. That’s the way Grand-Am is. Ron was on it; Paul was on it. Team orders do not play into this.
NICK HAM (No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): (whether the No. 70 Mazda RX-8 could win this race as of Lap 67) “I think so. The car was just handling good. We are just looking good right now. The Mazda was running well. I was using the sway bars to adjust the car the way I needed to. The problem I had was with the helmet blower; it wasn’t working correctly and it was getting a bit hot out there. On behalf of SpeedSource, we’d like to thank all of our military personnel this Memorial Day Weekend.” (after the checkered flag flew) “During my second stint, I just went as fast as I could. I wanted to keep pushing it, but David said I probably didn’t need to push it so hard. Then I saw the No. 06 had spun a few laps from the end. Sylvain did a great job today. We’ve gone from third to second (between the last two races), now hopefully next time we can finish first.”
SYLVAIN TREMBLAY (No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): (as to why the team made two driver changes this race) “Our cool helmet blower failed 20 minutes into the race. Nick got hot when he was in the car, and so did I. He was rested when I pitted, and we decided to make the change.” (after the race) “This is like a win for us.”
ROBIN LIDDELL (No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Stevenson Automotive/BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R): (following the race) “It was very hard because the driver cooling unit wasn’t working. But we went caution-free and that was what helped us. Andrew drove very well during his stint.”
RON FELLOWS (No. 06 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R): “We were out of tires, and I got into the sand and couldn’t hold on. I feel awful. My biggest concern when I was spinning was trying to keep it off the wall and not hit anyone.” (about racing at Lime Rock Park) “I love the current configuration, and I haven’t run without the chicane since the old Trans-Am days. I’m proud to be here. Hopefully this isn’t the last time we race on the circuit this way.”
LAWSON ASCHENBACH (No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R): “All weekend, the car was flawless. We don’t really know what happened. Tim started really strong, but then developed some oversteer. Both of us also had problems with tires; we really don’t know what happened. But we’ll be back at Watkins Glen and be on it from the start.”
SPENCER PUMPELLY (No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3): “TRG really gave us a great car. I just don’t think we had the car to get to the front today. We got behind early and without the yellows couldn’t make that time up.
ANDY LALLY (No. 68 TRG Porsche GT3): (upon his first Rolex Series race since January at Daytona) “We made the jump to Mansfield and then to Charlotte for a couple of hours and then to Lime Rock. I’m looking forward to it. We’re going to do one, maybe two more races this year. I’m excited. I got to drive the warm-up this morning, and that was the first time I’ve driven one of these cars since January.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN (No. 06 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R): (after getting out of the car) “First of all, we have to thank Banner Engineering for this car; it’s so easy to drive. We’re out there trying not to make any mistakes; just keep the car up front. It’s hot. I was so into the driving I forgot to get anything to drink. I’m a little dizzy right now.”
BRYAN SELLERS (No. 68 TRG Porsche GT3): (after getting out of the car following his stint) “It seemed like awhile, and that was my second race today. It was good. I’m driving with Andy Lally, and anyone who watched any of our races last year knows he is the strategy king.”
TIM LEWIS JR. (No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R): (after getting out of the car following his stint) “We’re having some problems with the back of the car, possibly a broken sway bar. We’re also having some problems with the tires, so we may need to stop again. Lawson is complaining about some of the same problems I was.”