When Grand-Am came to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in July, the Riley-BMW of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas finished second in the Rolex Series race, the M3s of Charles Espenlaub/Charles Putman and Matt Plumb/Nick Longhi came in second and third in the CTSCC Grand Sport class, and the 328i of Greg Liefooghe/Jon Capestro-Dubets finished third in the CTSCC Street Tuner class.
An out-of-character error by Scott Pruett on his final pit stop relegated the Ganassi Riley-BMW to second place in the Rolex Series race at Laguna Seca. Memo Rojas had started the race in third; he moved up to second before handing off to Pruett just over a half-hour into the race. Pruett led for eleven laps in the second half of the race, but he overshot his pit stall when he came in for his final stop and fell back to second behind the Riley-Chevrolet of Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty that went on to win the race.
Pruett said afterward, "I couldn't get it ‘whoaed' up in time. I was on and off the brakes again and again, but it just wouldn't stop in time. Both Alex and I were giving it 110 percent at the end. We were both running strong. It was one of those races that we both wanted to win."
Pruett and Rojas continue to lead Daytona Prototype drivers’ points ahead of SunTrust Dallara-Ford racers Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli and Laguna Seca winners Gurney and Fogarty.
In the Rolex Series GT class, Paul Dalla Lana’s regular Turner Motorsport M3 co-driver Bill Auberlen was absent, competing in the ALMS race at Lime Rock. Raphael Matos subbed for Auberlen; he led the class at one point in the race. In the end, the Turner M3 finished eighth, preserving Dalla Lana’s third place in the driver standings behind Porsche racers Leh Keen and Andrew Davis, who won the class at Laguna Seca, and Camaro racers Bill Lester and Jordan Taylor.
Matt Bell, running on his home circuit, teamed with John Edwards to win the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Laguna Seca in their Stevenson Motorsports Camaro; it was their second straight win.
The BMW M3s, still suffering from the restrictions placed on them by Grand-Am beginning with the Watkins Glen race in June, seemed more competitive at Laguna Seca than they had been at either Watkins Glen or Road America. Both John Clucas in the Kinetic Motorsports M3 and defending champion Charles Espenlaub in the Fall-Line M3 led on multiple occasions. But there was no catching the Camaro. Bell led the first 20 laps of the 79-lap race, and Edwards led the final 31.
Paul Dalla Lana, teamed with Raphael Matos in the Turner Grand Sport M3, finished eleventh. It was enough to preserve his lead in drivers’ points.
Greg Liefooghe and Jon Capestro-Dubets in their BimmerWorld 328i had finished third at the season opener in Daytona in January. For the first time since then, they finished on the podium again at Laguna Seca, coming home third behind the Mazda MX-5s of Andrew Carbonell/Rhett O’Doski and Tom Long/Derek Whitis. The 128i of Tim Bell (Matt Bell’s brother) and BJ Zacharias finished eighth, the RSR Mini of Ron Farmer and Jason Hart finished ninth, and the 328i of Jesse Combs and Jeff Mosing finished tenth.
While four races remain in the 2011 Rolex Series, there are only two races left in the CTSCC season. The CTSCC cars run along with the Rolex Series at New Jersey Motorsports Park in two weeks, and then run again at the mid-September finale at Mid-Ohio. Between the New Jersey and Mid-Ohio races the Rolex Series runs in Watkins Glen and Montreal in August.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.org