Rolex Mazda Laguna Seca
10 Jun, 2009
Photography by: Alex Wong
Jon Fogarty passed Scott Pruett at the entrance to the Corkscrew with 22 laps remaining in Sunday’s 106-lap Verizon Festival of Speed and held on to give the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley its second Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 victory of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
In GT, Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay teamed to score their first victory of the season in the SpeedSource No. 70 Castrol Syntec/Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8.
Fogarty started and finished the race, run under sunny skies and 91-degree temperatures. Alex Gurney drove the middle shift to give the team its 10th Rolex Series victory, beating the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley started by pole sitter Memo Rojas by 7.228 seconds.
While it was the 10th time Fogarty and Gurney co-drove to win – following up their seven-victory championship season in 2007 – it marked the first time Fogarty actually took the checkered flag at the finish.
The victory allowed Fogarty and Gurney to take the Daytona Prototype point lead. Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Darren Law and David Donohue finished eighth in the Brumos Porsche Riley, and fell to second in the standings, eight points behind (119-111).
Rojas led the an event-high 44 laps in the race, with Pruett pacing 20 circuits in a bid to give them their first victory of the season.
Much of the race was run under the green flag, with two cautions early in the event and a pair during the closing half-hour. The first incident occurred when Rolex 24 winner Justin Marks had a water leak in the TRG No. 67 Construct Corps Porsche GT3 and spun directly in front of the leaders on lap 10. Marks stopped on course to bring out the caution. The car co-driven by Andy Lally was able to continue after losing 30 laps in the pits.
The Comptech Honda engine made its Daytona Prototype debut in the No. Beyer Racing No. 5 Lennox Riley Comptech Honda Riley. Jordan Taylor went out eight laps into the race with an electrical systems problem.
Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay teamed to lead 84 laps to give the SpeedSource No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 its first Grand-Am Rolex Series Acxiom GT victory of the campaign.
Ham started on the pole and led four times for 50 laps. Tremblay took over and led the final 34 circuits after taking the lead from Paul Edwards.
Edwards and Kelly Collins teamed to lead for nine laps in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R. They held on to finish second, 8.23 seconds behind.
Leh Keen and Dirk Werner, winner of the most recent event at New Jersey Motorsports Park, finished third in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3.
Fourth went to Ted Ballou and Spencer Pumpelly in the TRG No. 66 AXA/Mitchell Rubber Porsche GT3, followed by Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal in the SpeedSource No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.
Pumpelly retains the Acxiom GT point lead, one ahead of Keen and Werner (117-116).
The next action for the Grand-Am Rolex Series will be the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on June 6 at Watkins Glen International. The Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge will race May 23-25 in the traditional Memorial Day weekend event at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Ct.