Sep 29

2012 season to close during Championship weekend

At Lime Rock Park 
Lime Rock Park logoGrand-AM-RolexThe distinctive rural scenery of Northwestern Connecticut is providing a colorful setting for the finale of the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series as the trees surrounding Lime Rock Park sport the first colors of fall. 

It is in this park-like setting, where fans have staked out favored vantage points along the track’s grassy hills, that the Championship Weekend will host nine Daytona Prototypes and 18 Grand Touring cars for the two hour and 45 minute sprint around the seven turn, 1.5-mile track on Saturday afternoon, September 29.

While the 2012 series champions have already been crowned in the GT class – Emil Assentato (Locust Valley, N.Y.) and Jeff Segal (Miami, Fla.), driving the #69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458, placed second three weeks ago in the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival which made them mathematically unbeatable – the DP class winners will be decided at Lime Rock Park.

“We know it’s a long shot, we’re happy that we at least got into this position,” said Ryan Dalziel (Orlando, Fla.) who will co-drive the #8 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley with Alex Popow (Venezuela). 

While only 13 points separate Dalziel from DP standings leaders Scott Pruett (Auburn, Calif.) and Memo Rojas (Mexico City, Mexico) who share driving duties in the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley, he acknowledged that winning the series would be an uphill battle since Pruett and Rojas need to drive only 30 minutes before being awarded ninth place points based on the nine entries running here. 

“But we’re looking forward to trying to win the race,” added Dalziel.  “It’s been a really good year.  Our team is in its third year, relatively we’re newcomers compared to the rest of the DP field.  It’s hard to be disappointed …if we finish second we know that the potential is there to win.”

Marking the second time in his career that Dane Cameron (Suwanee, Georgia) has driven at Lime Rock Park, he will co-drive the #43 Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8 with Wayne Nonnamaker (Massillon, Ohio).  They are one of five teams driving a Mazda RX-8 in its final race as a GT car. 

“Everyone who is here with Mazda would like to win the last race for the car and send it out with a bang,” said Cameron who explained that the #43 car has been pretty much the same for the last half of the year, although they modified the gearing for Lime Rock’s shorter track. 

“The toughest thing about coming to Lime Rock is getting through traffic because it’s so narrow, so tight, and with the different speeds of the DP and GT drivers, it’s just tough getting through.  That’s more mental preparation and being aware of your surroundings than changing the car.  We just try to minimize the mistakes and every weekend you come and try to do the best job you can do and do a better job than the last event.  Fortunately we won the last one.  It’s hard to do much better than that, so we’ll just try and do it again.  I think our car is quite good and maybe the rest of the race will fall our way.”

The California native’s win three weeks ago at his home track, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, was an emotional one.   “It was just such a weight off everybody’s shoulder especially with us only having just two more races in GT before we go to DP,” said Cameron.   “Everybody wanted to win one so badly, especially myself, before we left the category for now. 

There was a bit of a loss for words, just because it takes so much to go right to win one of these Rolex races.  To have a quick car and have the strategy work out and the guys did awesome on pit lane and the car was perfect … everything just worked.  Those races don’t come very often.”

While the GT winners have been decided for the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, the remaining podium finishes will be determined at Lime Rock Park.  “We’re at the last race and the points are close,” said Jonathan Bomarito (Monterey, Calif.), co-driver of the #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, who is nine points out of second overall in GT.  

“Before the weekend I know how the points work and can run through scenarios in my head.  Once you put the helmet on all you are thinking is about maximizing your finish.”  Explaining that information he gets during the race allows him to assess the risk level and determine how important it is to make that last pass, he continued: 

“There’s a possibility for us to still finish second, and definitely third, in the championship, but we would have to win or finish right up front and have the other two cars, the #57 or the #94, have some bad luck and then we’d be right there.  Also we have to think about the #59 Brumos car, they’re fifth in the championship and only six points behind us.  We just really need to maximize our weekend.”  Bomarito explained that this is one race the team really wants to win. 

“We can only control ourselves.  We had a bad race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and we’re looking to redeem ourselves and get another win for Mazda with our famous rotary engine in its last race for SpeedSource.”

The 14th race in the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series has a 3:00 p.m. EDT start and will be carried live on SPEED TV. 

About Rolex

Leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex, headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its OYSTER watches, all certified as chronometers for their precision, are symbols of excellence, performance and prestige. Pioneer in the development of the wristwatch as early as 1905, the brand is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the OYSTER, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the PERPETUAL rotor self-winding mechanism introduced in 1931.

Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities as well as philanthropic and patronage programmes.

About Lime Rock Park

Lime Rock – conceived of by Jim Vaill, the son of the landowner, and with assistance from John Fitch and Cornell Aeronautical Labs – was the first road racing track to be engineered and designed using scientific and highway-safety principles. Located in Connecticut’s Litchfield County, an area renowned for its vast historical, cultural and recreational resources, the 1.5-mile track looks deceivingly simple but is immensely challenging to drive quickly.
source: National Press Information – Jan Harley