Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana in their Turner Motorsport M3 won the GT class in the two-hour Grand-Am Rolex Series race run on Saturday night on the short course at Watkins Glen. The win moved Dalla Lana up to second in drivers’ points.
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas finished third overall and third in the Daytona Prototype class in their Ganassi Riley-BMW. They held on to their points lead, but their margin over Watkins Glen winner Ryan Dalziel dropped to six points.
Paul Dalla Lana just avoided a lap one, turn one incident that took the two GT points leaders out of contention. Emil Assentato, who shares the points lead with his teammate Jeff Segal, swerved his Ferrari to avoid another car and drove into the Camaro of Robin Liddell, who was second in points. The Ferrari eventually finished seventh, while the Camaro, which spent time in the pits for major repairs, finished fourteenth in the sixteen-car class. Jon Bomarito, co-driver of Sylvain Tremblay, who was tied with Dalla Lana for third, was also caught up in an incident.
Dalla Lana pitted from second to hand off to Auberlen forty minutes into the race. Auberlen moved into the class lead during the final hour of the race, building up enough of a margin to quickly regain the lead after his final stop. He finished ahead of Eric Curran in the Corvette that he shared with Boris Said and Leh Keen and Andrew Davis in their Brumos Porsche.
Rojas started from fifth and quickly moved up to second behind Ricky Taylor in the Corvette DP that he shared with Max Angelelli. John Pew and Ozz Negri both led in their Michael Shank racing Riley-Ford, as did Alex Popow and Sebastien Bourdais in their #2 Starworks Riley-Ford. Ryan Dalziel, in the #8 Starworks car that he shared with Lucas Luhr, took the lead with about 40 minutes left and held on for the win. The #2 Starworks car was second, while Pruett and Rojas were third.
It was a critical race for Starworks, whose #8 car had been taken out of contention in Indianapolis by Juan Pablo Montoya in his Ganassi Riley-BMW (see the story here). Starworks team owner Peter Baron had wanted Grand-Am to take action after the incident, but the series issued no penalty.
For a time it was rumored that Starworks would exit the series, but it did not. However, Enzo Potolicchio, who was Dalziel’s co-driver and a major source of funding for the #8 car, did leave the series, making a statement about Grand-Am’s unwillingness to penalize favored teams as well as what he said was the unfair advantage of the Corvette DPs. Potolicchio agreed to continue funding the car so Dalziel could chase the title. After his win at Watkins Glen, Dalziel is very close to Pruett and Rojas with three races remaining in the season.
The next race will be run in a week, on Saturday at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
Before the race Team Sahlen, a team that is currently running Mazda RX-8s in the GT class, announced that it would move up to Daytona Prototype in 2013, where it will run two Dinan-powered Riley-BMWs. One of the cars will be driven by Dane Cameron and Wayne Nonnamaker, while the other will be driven by three “sportsman” (i.e., not full time professional) drivers, Joe Sahlen, Joe Nonnamaker and Will Nonnamaker.—Brian S. MorganBack to News