Pirelli's set record at Watkins Glen
In what may have been P Zero’s best Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series performance so far this season, Scott Pruett set the track record on the 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International road course in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley on Friday, before joining his teammate Memo Rojas in dominating Saturday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen endurance race. The victory was the first of the season for the reigning Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Champions.
“Pirelli did a great job,” said Pruett, who has won the Sahlen’s Six Hours an impressive three times. “This is probably - from my view point - one of Pirelli’s best performances that I have experienced. We just kept going faster and faster through out the run. The car stayed consistent and it stayed fast.”
Pruett also set the race’s fastest lap on lap 178, and combined with Rojas to lead an amazing 142 of the race’s 188 laps from the pole. However, they were pressured in the late stages by the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle. While chasing Pruett near race-end, Angelelli set his team’s fastest lap just five laps from the finish.
“The Pirellis were fantastic,” Angelelli said. “When you consider our fastest lap time of the race was on tires that we put through two stints, that says a lot. The durability of the Pirellis was very good.”
The Ganassi and SunTrust drivers are now knotted in a four-way tie for first in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Championship with 140 points apiece.
The No. 12 Verizon Wireless/Penske Racing Porsche Riley of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard finished third in Saturday’s race. Having amassed 134 points so far this season, the Penske duo is now tied for third in the championship with No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, who failed to finish Saturday’s race after a contact incident.
In the GT class, 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Series GT Champion Dirk Werner joined Leh Keen in winning their second of the last three races in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3. Like the Ganassi team in Daytona Prototypes, the winning GT race car also started the race at the head of the field after Werner won his first career Grand-Am Rolex Series pole. It was the first Grand-Am pole for Porsche in 2009.
“The Pirelli tires were awesome for us,” said Werner, who took the GT class points lead with Keen. “We could do consistent lap times through the whole stint. Our set up really worked good and I think that really helped the Pirelli tires because we didn’t have to abuse them too much to do fast laps times. Today, the tires were really perfect for our car, maybe the best yet.”
Werner and Keen edged the second place No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R of Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards while the second No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 of Wolf Henzler and Eric Lux finished third. The top six GT finishers all completed 178 laps.
“We were really happy with the way everything went,” Keen said. “We really saw some great, great times and pace at the end of our stints with the Pirellis, so we were happy with that. In the end, we could push hard and run fast lap times still, and that is when it really matters.”
Next up for Pirelli and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The twilight race can be seen live on SPEED at 5 p.m. ET, Sunday, June 20.