Grand AM » 2 November 2003
Borcheller, Bell take Grand-Am prototype title.
Bell Motorsports captured the North American Road Racing Championship and Terry Borcheller the first-ever Daytona Prototype driver championship as they guided the #54 Doran-Chevrolet JE4 to victory in the Rolex Sports Car Series finale at Daytona International Speedway.
Several teams took turns at the front of the field during the 250-mile race, with Bill Auberlen starting the #27 Toyota-powered Doran of Doran-Lista Racing from the pole and leading for the early part of the race. A pit-stop by the #27 car allowed the #59 Brumos Racing FABCAR of Hurley Haywood and JC France to then take a stint at the front but, after retaking the lead, another pit-stop for the Doran-Lista team put the other Brumos Racing entry, the #58 Red Bull Porsche, in front. However, David Donohue was unable to hold off Justin Bell in the Derhaag Racing #40 Corvette, who took the overall lead on lap 38.
Another GTS entry, the #29 Sky Blue Racing/GardenIron.com Mustang of Eric Curran and Stu Hayner, took over at the front of the field on lap 53 when Bell brought the Corvette into the pits, but the Mustang's time in the lead was short, as Borcheller moved into the lead for the first time one lap later.
A third GTS entry, the #48 Heritage Motorsports Mustang of Dave Machavern, Tommy Riggins and Joao Barbosa, claimed the lead for a single lap before disaster befell the team. Barbosa was at the wheel of the Mustang when he cut its right front tyre, taking most of the cars front and side bodywork with it. The incident put the Heritage team out of the race, although it still took the GTS team championship, and drivers Machavern and Riggins tied for the drivers' title.
Once Borcheller retook the lead after the Mustang's trouble, there was no looking back, and he cruised to a 13.998secs victory.
The battle for second place was more heated, as Donohue sparred with Didier Theys in the Doran-Lista Toyota, racing side-by-side and banging into each other several times during the final laps. Theys was able to finally come out on top of the battle, and the #27 car took home second-place honours, while the Red Bull machine finished third.
When the Heritage team went out of the race, the #29 Mustang moved into the lead in the GTS class, as well as second place overall. With a substantial lead over the #40 Corvette, it looked as though the Sky Blue Racing entry would take the class win but, on the final lap of the race, Hayner ran out of gas on the backstretch, giving the final GTS win to Derhaag Racing's Simon Gregg and Bell, who finished fifth overall.
The #29 Mustang was able to hold on to second-place honours in the class despite its misfortune, while the #05 Re/Max Racing Corvette of Rick Carelli and John Metcalf finished third.
Scuderia Ferrari of Washington entered the final race of the year with a substantial lead in the GT class. While it would take very little for drivers Brent Martini and Cort Wagner to clinch the driver's championship, as well as the team title, the manufacturers' championship was still up for grabs as only one point separated Porsche and Ferrari. Because of the close battle, Ferrari of Washington brought in three Ferraris for the race, hoping that at least one would finish above the highest-finishing Porsche.
The #83 Flying Lizard Racing Porsche of Johannes van Overbeek, Lonnie Pechnick and Seth Neiman, led the charge for the German marque, starting the day on the GT pole. The car would battle the #33 Ferrari for the lead throughout the race but, when the chequered flew, it was the Prancing Horse out in front, giving Ferrari its first-ever North American GT manufacturer championship.
The Flying Lizard Porsche finished second, while the Rolex 24-winning Racer's Group Porsche of Kevin Buckler and Chris Gleason finished third.
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