Friday
Mar232007

GRAND AM NEWS: KEEN TAKES FIRST CAREER CLASS POLE IN MIAMI

Photo by John Thawley Driving the No. 85 Shoes for Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3 for Farnbacher Loles Motorsports, Leh Keen earned his first career Rolex Series class pole position in GT qualifying for the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami. Keen will share the No. 85 machine with Dominik Farnbacher, and the duo is looking to improve on its second place class result three weeks ago in Mexico City.

“The speed is there, but it is just going to be a question of tire management,” Keen said. “Winning the pole was just a matter of a few tenths here or there, but the race is going to really come down to tire wear. The Porsches are good on tires for the first three or four laps but the Mazdas just seem to get longer wear out of them. It was that way in Mexico and it may be worse here. On the plus side, we have Porsche reliability and an awesome team in Farnbacher Loles. We also have 40 guests from Shoes for Crews coming tomorrow. It will be a good race, but it will just come down to tires.”

Starting second in GT will be Mexico City winner Nick Ham in the No. 70 Mazda/Mazdaspeed RX-8 for Sunrise, Fla.-based SpeedSource. Ham posted a best lap at 1:20.439 (102.935 mph) and will again share the No. 70 with team owner Sylvain Tremblay, with whom he drove to the victory in Mexico.

“The car is great,” Ham said. “We really wanted the pole as this is the home race for SpeedSource, but we have still made good progress. When we came here and tested in November, we had some pretty long faces. We had some work to do but with the David Haskell on the technical side and the leadership of team owner Sylvain Tremblay the team worked really hard to get the car where we wanted it. Now we are much more comfortable with where we are and the Mazda RX-8 is a great car, on the track and on the street, and we want to get a win for Mazda at our home track.”

Eric Lux qualified third in GT with a lap at 1:20.943 (102.294 mph) in the No. 74 Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 for Tafel Racing. Lux is looking for his first Rolex Series GT win, and is paired in the No. 74 machine with German racer Wolf Henzler, a six-time GT class race winner.

“We absolutely have more speed in the car,” said Lux. “We were on our fast lap and putting everything together when the caution came out and it really hurt us. I could only get within a one tenth of where we would have been after that. We tried some things in practice this morning, some pretty drastic changes, but we switched back to where we were yesterday and that was the way to go. Tomorrow we will just have to conserve our tires. Porsches are known for some heavy wear because of the banking and we need to be aware of that. The Mazdas and the Pontiacs will have better wear but we should be initially faster so that is when we will have to build our advantage.”

Kelly Collins qualified fourth in class in the No. 07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R with a lap at 1:21.164 (102.016 mph). Collins and co-driver Paul Edwards are the defending GT winners of the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami. Nathan Swartzbaugh completed the top five in the No. 72 North South Machinery/ANCA/Dunkel Bros. Porsche GT3 with a lap at 1:21.281 (101.869 mph). Swartzbaugh will share the Tafel Racing machine with Andrew Davis.

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