BMW teams emerged from the Grand-Am season finale with drivers’, team, and manufacturers’ titles in both the Rolex Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won the drivers’ championship, Ganassi Racing won the team championship, and BMW won the manufacturers’ championship in the Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype class at the Grand-Am season finale at Mid-Ohio.
Their Ganassi Riley-BMW struggled for speed early in the weekend, and was well off the pace in qualifying. The team switched engines on Friday night in hopes of increasing speed, and the car was trimmed out, losing what Scott Pruett said was 500 pounds of downforce.
The fix worked. The team was cautious early in the race, as each driver had to finish 30 minutes to secure the drivers’ title. Then, the pace picked up, and Pruett took the car to second in the final hour of the race. The last half-hour was a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle between the race winner Ryan Dalziel in the Starworks Riley-Ford that he shared with Enzo Potolicchio, second place finisher Pruett, and third place finisher Alex Gurney in the Gainsco Riley-Chevrolet that he shared with Jon Fogarty.
BMW’s fortunes were not as good in the GT class, where the #94 Turner Motorsport M3 of Paul Dalla Lana and Billy Johnson eventually exited the race near the end with an engine failure, and the other M3, driven by Will Turner and Michael Marsal, finished fifteenth. The GT class win went to the Camaro of Ronnie Bremer and Robin Liddell, and the GT championship went to Brumos Porsche racers Leh Keen and Andrew Davis. (Text continues after photos)
Paul Dalla Lana’s fortunes were far better in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race as he clinched the 2011 Grand Sport class drivers’ championship. Turner Motorsport won the GS class team championship, and BMW won the GS class manufacturers' championship. The Turner Motorsport M3 that Dalla Lana co-drove with Boris Said finished sixth in Saturday’s CTSCC race. It was the first-ever title for Dalla Lana, and the first for the Turner team since 2007, when Trevor Hopwood and Adam Burrows won the CTSCC Street Tuner title in a Turner 328i.
Except for those weekends when he had conflicts because of his BMW Team RLL ALMS ride, Bill Auberlen was Dalla Lana's co-driver in the Turner M3 this season. Dalla Lana noted that his drivers' title was shared with both Auberlen and the Turner team.
The 2 ½-hour CTSCC race win went to Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi in their Rum Bum M3. Plumb passed Mustang racer Billy Johnson, Dalla Lana’s closest competitor for the title, in the waning laps of the 2 ½ hour race and held on for the win. Even if Johnson had won, Dalla Lana needed only to finish eleventh to secure the title. Johnson finished second ahead of the three Fall-Line M3s, piloted by Charles Espenlaub and Charles Putman, last year’s champions, Terry Borcheller/Mark Boden, and Hugh Plumb/Al Carter.
RSR Mini racers Owen Trinkler and Sarah Cattaneo came into the Mid-Ohio finale third in Street Tuner drivers’ points with a good shot at the title. Cattaneo took the pole and led early, and Trinkler took the lead again with just over a half-hour left in the race. At that point Nic Jonsson, who was leading the points, was running fifth in his Kia Forte; had the race ended then, the two would have been tied for the points lead, but Jonsson would have had the edge because of a second-place finish in the first race of the season at Daytona. But a clutch failed in Trinkler’s Mini with just twenty minutes left in the race, ensuring that Jonsson would win the title.
The ST class win went to the Mazda Speed 3 of Mark and Mathew Pombo. The Doran Racing BMW 128i of Tim Bell and BJ Zacharias finished second, while Bill Heumann and Dave White finished sixth in class in their BimmerWorld 328i.
Cattaneo and Trinkler finished fourth in ST drivers’ points, RSR Motorsport finished fourth in team points, and BMW finished third in manufacturers’ points behind Mazda and Volkswagen.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.orgBack to News