Richard Westbrook and his Spirit of Daytona team held off a hard-charging Scott Pruett to win the GRAND-AM Rolex Series EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. (BRIAN CLEARY)
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 9, 2012) – Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante gave the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP team its second victory of the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season. No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 teammates Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana won their first GT race of the year in the EMCO Gears Classic Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Contact between Joao Barbosa and Max Angelleli brought out a late yellow flag that created a thrilling 7-minute, 30-second sprint to the finish line on the 13-turn road course.
Westbrook and Valiante combined to lead 87 laps in the 111-lap race and Westbrook kept a charging Scott Pruett at bay after the final restart to score his second Rolex Series victory of the season. He also co-drove the No. 90 Corvette DP to the victory at Barber Motorsports Park in March alongside co-driver Antonio Garcia.
It was the second victory in a matter of hours at Mid-Ohio for Valiante, who claimed a Street Tuner class win in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race earlier Saturday afternoon.
“Richard and I talked about how much we wanted to win this race and we knew we’d have a good car,” said Valiante, who started the race from the outside of the front row. “I was optimistic just to be on the podium coming back and doing only a handful of races, so to get out front and maintain that position, I just had my fingers crossed that nothing would go wrong. It almost seemed too good to be true.”
While others have earned double victories on the same day in Rolex Series/Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition, it was the first Daytona Prototype/Street Tuner double. It was also Valiante’s first Daytona Prototype victory since 2008 in Sonoma, Calif.
Pruett came home 0.236 seconds behind Westbrook to finish second in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley alongside co-driver Memo Rojas. It was the fourth podium result in six races this season for the defending Daytona Prototype co-champions and moved them to the top of the DP driver standings after six of 13 races. Pruett and Rojas lead a three-way tie for second among Ryan Dalziel, Enzo Potolicchio and David Donohue by two points, 170-168.
Donohue and Terry Borcheller completed the DP podium with a third-place performance in the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. Alex Popow and Lucas Luhr finished fourth in the No. 2 Soloson Ford/Riley, with Potolicchio and Dalziel fifth in the No. 8 Duncan Ford/Riley.
Driving the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, Auberlen established himself as the man to beat in GT near the halfway point in the race and took the class lead for the final time with 25 laps remaining. Like Westbrook, Auberlen also faced pressure from behind following the final restart, but he held on to score the first victory for himself and Dalla Lana since the 2011 event at Barber Motorsports Park.
“We had a very good car here two years ago the last time I was here,” said Auberlen. “It’s like I never left. The car just likes Mid-Ohio.”
Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato finished second in the No. 69 FXDD Ferrari 458 and now lead the GT point standings by 11 points over Robin Liddell, who finished third alongside co-driver John Edwards in the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro GT.R. Edwards started the race from the GT pole position.
Next up is the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series 250 Driven by VISITFLORIDA.com at Road America on Saturday, June 23.