LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Both of Doran Racing's Nissan 370Zs finished the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) Grand Sport race at Lime Rock Park on Saturday, but neither finished as high as the team had hoped. Both cars rolled back into the transporter in one piece, however, and the team will take the points it earned in the Berkshires and look forward to the next event at Kansas Speedway June 7.
The #14 Nissan 370Z NISMO RC driven by Brad Jaeger of Charlottesville, Va., and B.J. Zacharias of Cincinnati started seventh and finished 11th, one lap down, in Saturday's Northeast Grand Prix. The #41 Tower Events Nissan 370Z NISMO co-driven by John Farano and David Empringham of Toronto started 12th and finished 18th, three laps down, in the 28-car field.
Jaeger and Farano were the starting drivers in their respective cars, with Zacharias and Empringham taking over around the halfway point in what turned out to be a 148-lap event. The starting grid was determined by points after qualifications were rained out. The weather wasn't a factor in Saturday's race, although it did start to rain towards the end of the two-hour, 30-minute race on the narrow, 1.5-mile, seven-turn road course. There was only one full-course caution, which is quite unusual for a CTSCC race.
Jaeger kept the #14 in sixth or seventh place while he was behind the wheel. Unfortunately, around the 30-lap mark, a Subaru made contact with the Nissan's right front, compromising its alignment. Jaeger did the best he could on the twisty track after that, and the car was still in seventh place when he pitted for fuel, tires and the driver change around lap 60.
"The Subaru hit the right-front corner of our car about 30 laps into it, but we did what we could with what we had after that," said Jaeger. "The contact definitely hurt our effort though. We ended up with a decent result. We walked away with points, and now we'll go on to the next race. The car is in one piece and we all did what we could today."
Zacharias started his stint in 12th place, but he had the car back in the top 10 by lap 70, and it was eighth when there was finally a break in the action for the full-course caution on lap 87. He made another pit stop right before the restart to push him back to tenth. He was still in tenth place with 30 minutes remaining, but he was still one lap down. Mark Wilkins' Aston Martin V8 was particularly strong and got by Zacharias into 10th with 22 minutes remaining. With no other restarts to tighten the field, the car finished in that position.
Farano kept his Tower Events Nissan in 12th place for the first five laps but then dropped to 15th and later 16th. He advanced to 14th by lap 39 and was holding his own nicely, running between Ray Mason's Subaru and Anthony Mantella, who was in the Aston Martin that Wilkins would drive later. He was still in 14th place when he pitted around lap 53 and Empringham took over.
Canadian veteran racer Empringham had a very strong stint and was able to get the car into 10th place by the time the full-course caution occurred. However, he had to pit twice more, one for a penalty, dropping to 18th place, three laps down. With no other yellows the field remained strung out, and he took the checkered in that position.
"I got a penalty for leaving the pits when the red light was on," said Empringham. "Not a great day. It's such a short track that it's very easy to go a lap down. We had a few other problems too. On to the next one."
The teams move to Kansas Speedway June 6-7 for the next round of the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge.
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