Banner Engineering drivers Leighton Reese and Tim Lewis Jr picked up the first Grand-Am Rolex Series victory of their career by taking the #06 Pontiac GXP.R to top spot in Monday's GT Classic at Lime Rock Park.
Lewis claimed the lead from Patrick Long's Synergy Racing Porsche on lap 94 of 139, before pulling away from the field following restarts on laps 100 and 111 to win by 6.507secs. The victory capped a strong weekend for the Pontiac GXP.R, as three of the new cars qualified and finished inside the top five. The GXP.Rs also led 86 laps, including the final 46 with Lewis at the head of the field.
“The guys at Banner did a great job today,” Lewis said, “The car was as good in the race as it was in practice. Leighton kept it at the front the whole the beginning of the race and that put the pressure on me. On the restart, I was able to maintain the lead and run consistent lap times. The engineers and the crew really worked to get us a good race car all through practice and it paid off. The weather conditions were the same as we practiced under and the car was right there the whole race.”
Lewis' 46 laps out front were a race-high. After starting fourth, owner/driver Reese led 24 laps during his stint on the way to his first Rolex Series GT class victory.
“First, I have to say I really love coming to Lime Rock,” Reese smiled, “You always enjoy a track that you are fast at, and I'm kind of at the twilight of my driving career here. Whenever you can win one, it's great. We've really had to raise our game here. We've got some great help from Pontiac. We qualified in a pretty good position, and I think I made a pretty good pass on Wolf [Henzler] there on a restart."
Reese was also pleased with his co-driver's input.
"I can't say how proud I am of Tim," he said, "We had driver try-outs at Sebring last year, and we picked the team well. He keeps sneaking up on the lap times and never puts a wheel wrong, and when the race comes he's even faster than me.”
Bryce Miller and Dirk Werner claimed second spot in the locally-based #87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Porsche, the fourth consecutive podium result for the pairing. The result, combined with an eleventh place for the #70 Mazdaspeed entry of Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay, also catapulted Werner into a tie with the Mazda drivers for the GT points lead after six of 13 races.
“As I said at the last race, our goal is to win the championship for Farnbacher Loles,” the German said, “We drove fairly conservative at the beginning of the race, and Bryce was setting very fast times, some even faster than the leading car. In the end, we were a little lucky because we got to pick up the end of the field because of the wave-by. Still, the car was good at the end, and that was our biggest advantage.”
“Farnbacher Loles keeps giving us good cars,” Miller added, “We gave it everything we had out there today. It felt really good to come home to the north-east and run in front of our sponsors. We had a lot of friends and family here this weekend too, so it felt good to finish on the podium again.”