Pontiac GTO.Rs Set To Do Battle At Lime Rock

Pontiac GTO.Rs Set To Do Battle At Lime Rock

24.05.2006: Pontiac GTO.Rs Set To Do Battle At Lime Rock

Rolex Series Returns to Lime Rock Park for First Time Since 2001 with GT-only Event; Pontiac Hopes to Extend Manufacturers Points Lead

Pontiac's production-based GTO.R race cars are headed to Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut, where they will once again compete - this time without their Daytona Prototype counterparts - in the GT class of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. The #64 and #65 TRG GTO.Rs, which are keeping Pontiac in the lead in GT manufacturers points, will not be joined by the new-entry #98 Pacific Coast Motorsports GTO.R but nonetheless have a strong probability of retaining the manufacturers points lead (21 points) over Porsche. Pontiac's GT-class race cars have won six out of the last nine points-paying races (four race wins and two now discontinued-format qualifying race wins) with the remainder being second-place finishes.

"Pontiac has led much of the GT manufacturer points chase this season and we have high hopes that our cars -with increased help from Pacific Coast Motorsports as of the last two races - will be able to clinch the championship for us this year," said Steve Sitek, brand promotional manager for Pontiac. "With competition from Porsche and BMW it won't be easy, but with our short but successful GT history we've proven it's possible."

The GTO.Rs will no doubt have a more difficult time with their competitors now, as Grand American allowed all GT cars except the Pontiacs to be lightened by 75 pounds. Kelly Collins, who shares the #64 TRG iRise Pontiac GTO.R with Paul Edwards, drove a BMW M3 last year and has been to Lime Rock many times. He feels the M3 will be the GTO.R's biggest threat this weekend.

"I think we'll have a good car for this track but so will the BMW; not so much the Porsche this time around," said Collins. "The Porsche is better suited to the speedway tracks like Daytona. Here, the track is a bumpy, short road course and with its mid-speed corners, the Pontiac is pretty well suited to it. But with all the cars losing weight except ours, it's going to be tough."

The sister car of the #64 machine, the #65 TRG F1 Air/Alpine Bagel GTO.R, leads GT team points with its regular drivers, Andy Lally and Marc Bunting also leading in driver points. The pair will be joined this weekend by part-time driver R. J. Valentine and the experience that all three drivers bring to the table will help compensate for the weight advantage their competitors' cars now enjoy.

"The last time I was at Lime Rock with Grand-Am we won so I'm looking forward to going back again," said Lally. "I also finished second here in the American Le Mans Series in 2004 and I got my racing license here. About 15 years ago, I went to the Skip Barber school here and this was the first track I raced on. I grew up in New York so this was the closest track, next to Bridgehampton, to my house. You could say I'm pretty familiar with it."

Pontiac's third GT class entry, the #98 Ironclad Pacific Coast Motorsports GTO.R, will not enter this round of the Rolex Series. Since this is a GT-only event and the team also campaigns a Daytona Prototype, (the #89 Playboy/Palms/Vonage PCM Pontiac Riley), they felt the cost of taking only one car to Connecticut from California was too high. They will resume racing with both cars at the upcoming Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June.

The GT class of the Rolex Series races again at Lime Rock on Monday, May 29 at 2:30 p.m. EDT. The event will be televised live on SPEED TV.

-Steve Smith-
photos GARRA

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24.05.2006 / MaP

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