Pirelli victorious at Mid-Ohio Grand-Am Rolex race
A peculiarly slick Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course had competitors in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 looking to Pirelli P Zero racing slicks to provide much-needed grip in Saturday’s EMCO Gears Classic. Run on the 2.258-mile Buckeye road course, this week’s race marked round 6, the midway point, of 2009’s 12 race Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series schedule.
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won their second consecutive Grand-Am Rolex Series race in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype while the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3 of Dirk Werner and Leh Keen also scored back-to-back wins in GT. Both teams were also victorious one race ago in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
“I have been to Mid-Ohio so many times,” said Pruett, who has now led a series-high 191 laps this season. “I know Mid-Ohio, and this was one of those strange days where no matter what you do it’s just inconsistent. It’s not the tire, it’s not the car - it’s just the track. I was pleased with the Pirellis. The tires stayed good, they stayed consistent and we ran them hard. We ran qualifying laps every lap and the Pirellis stayed right underneath me. Good ‘power-down’ grip, the performance stayed there and I think the Pirellis did a great job.”
Pruett and Rojas took sole possession of the Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype point standings with the victory at Mid-Ohio this week. They are now 11 points clear, 175 – 161 over third-place Mid-Ohio finishers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty and the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team. The GAINSCO team is the year’s only other two-time race winner.
“The track hadn’t been run on for awhile and I understand this was the first professional race all year,” said Rojas, who partnered Pruett for their ninth win as teammates. “There was no rubber on the track and really no track time either, so the track really never ‘rubbered’ up. Everybody battled with that, but there were no issues with the Pirellis. No complaints on that side - the Pirelli was a consistent tire and a quick tire. ”
In the GT class, Werner and Keen started from the back of the GT field after failing post-qualifying technical inspection due to a ride height issue, but they came back to win for the third time this year. They also extend their GT class championship lead to 16 points, 186 – 170, over the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R team of Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards, who finished third at Mid-Ohio.
“(The track) was really slippery today and we really had to take our tires to the limit because we were starting from the back,” said Werner, who drove the final half of the race and led 43 of the team’s 45 laps up front. “The grip stayed through the whole stint just perfect and today, really, the Pirelli tires did what we wanted them to do for us. They were good for another win.”
Keen was victorious for the second straight year at Mid-Ohio with Farnbacher Loles after winning in the rain in 2008 with Eric Lux.
The next race on the schedule is the Brumos Porsche 250 on the road course at Daytona International Speedway on the Fourth of July. The race can be seen live on SPEED at 2 p.m. ET.