Buoyed by victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the previous round the Porsche representatives in the GT class of the Grand-Am Rolex Series were again on the pace with two cars in the top five at the end of the two hour Continental Tire 200 at The Glen.
The fine weekend for the Porsche teams began in qualifying when Horton Autosport notched up their best qualifying performance in their first anniversary race in the Rolex Series. Their good weekend on the short course at Watkins Glen continued when Eric Foss started the race by moving up to second as the two chief title rivals tangled in turn one. Strategy – Andrew Lindsey taking over the car during the first caution period just before the half hour mark – allowed the team to lead the class for the first time in the short time in the championship, before they fell back into a battle for the podium slots.
However, the fairy tale weekend for the team was not to have a happy ending. While leaving space for a pair of faster Daytona Prototype cars to overtake approaching turn 10 Lindsey was barged into by David Donahue, Lindsey careening into first the inside then outside barriers.
“The car was fantastic. John did an amazing job of getting the car right for us. Every change was the right move. We had the pace to run with everybody. We were executing on our strategy today which put us right there in the top-five. That’s what we wanted. A little bad luck caught us again. Not much you can say about that [the accident] other than hope it doesn’t happen again. It was a pretty big hit. We’ll just put it behind us and move on to the next race.”
The full course yellow brought by the stricken #73 Porsche bunched up the GT field, released back to racing with just five minutes left of racing. The battle which Lindsey perhaps should have been part of for the final step on the podium was instead between Porsche drivers Leh Keen and Andy Lally, representing Brumos Racing and Magnus Racing respectively.
The Brumos team had already an eventful race. Starting driver Andrew Davis briefly led the race before Keen took over driving duties. The experienced GT racer was lucky to escape unscathed from a four car incident in turn one to still be fighting for third place in the late going.
In a nose-to-tail final few laps Keen kept North American Endurance Championship winner Lally at bay to score a fourth podium of the season in the #59 car.
“A great weekend all-around,” reflected Keen. “The guys have been working really hard and we’ve had a really good car the last couple of races. At the end, as it always is here in the Rolex Series, it was a total battle. We were just holding on for the podium. The cars running upfront were real strong so I don’t know if we had a whole lot for them but I was able to hold-on for the podium. It was a crazy race. I got into some contact and was sort of a pinball between some Mazdas but the car was strong and held up fine. I have to give it to Porsche to take those hits. Andrew did a great job. He handed over the car in a good position.”
With Lally stalking Keen to the line in fourth position the Porsche teams completed another good weekend after a somewhat difficult early summer in the Rolex Series.
The championship continues next weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.