GRAND-AM Drivers Take Two Class Wins, Second Overall In 24 Hours of Nurburgring

By Auto News Log • May 19th, 2010

NURBURG, Germany – GRAND-AM Road Racing drivers Leh Keen and Shane Lewis each scored class victories in this past weekend’s ADAC 24 Hours of Nurburgring, May 14-16, where Keen’s No. 43 Hankook Tire/Farnbacher Racing Ferrari F430 GT battled for the overall win before taking runner-up honors in a close, lead-lap finish.

The reigning GT co-Champion and current driver No. 41 Team Seattle/Global Diving/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT with James Gué, Keen reunited with friend and former GRAND-AM teammate Dominik Farnbacher, Danish driver Allan Simonsen and Farnbacher’s German countryman Marco Seefried. The Ferrari ran in the overall top five for the final 15 hours and was the sole lead-lap challenger to the winning factory BMW M3 in the closing laps of the race. The Farnbacher team crossed the finish line less than four minutes behind the overall winning car and sealed a dominating victory in the SP7 class for big sports cars.

“To be standing on the top-three overall podium at such a famous track along with the winning factory BMW team and the third-place Audi R8 was an incredible feeling,” said Keen, who first moved the Ferrari into the top five after his first night stint Saturday evening. “This track is narrow and tricky enough but add just about total darkness to it and it is really wild and unlike any other experience in racing. So, taking all of that into account, it really made me feel like I made a contribution in getting us to fourth in my night run, which was our highest position to that point.”

Lewis partnered with fellow GRAND-AM veteran Vic Rice and German Ring specialists Axel Duffner and Karl Pflanz in the No. 70 Team Gotz Motorsport Audi RS 4 for a convincing win in the SP 8T class for big-bore touring cars. Each of the drivers did four stints in the race and they had a trouble-free run to the class win after and early scare.

“In our first stint out there we had a serious fire inside the car,” Lewis said. “At the last minute the team installed an indicator light for night identification during pit stops and the 12 volts didn’t match whatever they did. About four laps into Vic running there was flames inside the car. It burned a bunch of stuff inside, but he pulled to the side, put the fire out and kept going. He came in and put in me in the car and there was so much fire suppressant, it literally looked like it snowed inside the car. We kept going after that, didn’t make any mistakes and just stayed out of trouble to the finish.”

A third GRAND-AM class victory seemed possible in the opening first quarter of the race when the No. 179 Drink Florida Orange Juice!/SPEEDCOM Communications/Marcos Racing International BMW 320d of Hal Prewitt, Toto Lassally, Cor Euser and Raymond Coronel easily moved into the lead of the D1T (Diesel 1) class. Coronel ran afoul of a slower car five-and-a-half hours into the race, however, and the team later retired after nearly seven hours of repairs couldn’t get the quick BMW back in action.

Prewitt, Lassally and Euser were unable to win consecutive international endurance races after taking diesel class honors in January’s 24 Hours of Dubai. The disappointment was doubled as the first-rate crew and BMW 320d race car Euser organized for this year’s race were considered the best Prewitt and Lassally have ever had for any endurance race.

“It was a real treat to drive this car,” Prewitt said. “It’s probably one of the best cars I have ever driven, and I have been in a bunch. It was really a pleasure. I am really disappointed we couldn’t go out and run some more even though we didn’t really have the possibility of getting back in any kind of contention.”

Jim Briody partnered Prewitt, Lassally and Euser in the Dubai victory but ran this past weekend in the No. 155 Mathol Racing Honda Civic Type-R. Briody and his teammates finished seventh in the SP3 class for small sports cars and coupes.

Another driver competing at the Nurburgring with GRAND-AM connections was Spencer Trenery, who drove an Audi A4 Quattro in the D3T (Diesel 3) class. His father Bruce Trenery was also entered in a Honda similar to Briody’s.

Source: GRAND-AM Road Racing

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