LEBANON, Ohio -- Doran-Lista Racing will be looking for points, not treats, over the Halloween weekend.
The Grand American Rolex series team based in Lebanon, Ohio is fourth in the Daytona Prototype (DP) team standings heading into the season finale Sunday at California Speedway in Fontana. Doing well at Fontana is very important, since fourth through seventh place in the extremely competitive DP team standings are separated by less than 10 points.
A total of 35 points are up for grabs. Mathematically the team could rise as high as third in the final team point standings. That position is currently held by the CITGO/Howard-Boss #2 team, which has 300 points to Doran-Lista's 268 prior to this weekend's event.
Even if it wouldn't earn any points at Fontana the Doran-Lista team would still finish at least ninth overall for the season out of the 24 teams which have scored points so far this year.
The Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 #27 uses Lexus engines and Lexus is the title sponsor of the weekend. The program is headlined by the Lexus Grand American 400 at 1 p.m. local time on Sunday, Oct. 31, which is also Halloween. The two-hour-and-45-minute race will be televised live on SPEED at 4 p.m. Eastern time.
Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Jan Magnussen of Roskilde, Denmark are slated to drive the bright red car in the 400-kilometer, 89-lap race. Another one of the team's drivers, Fredy Lienhard of Niederteufen, Switzerland, also plans to be on hand to offer moral support. Theys, the team's lead driver, is the only driver on the team who has competed in all 11 events held so far this year. He is eighth in the Daytona Prototype driver standings going into the season finale or seventh depending on how one looks at it, since there is a two-way tie for first.
The DORAN JE4 chassis is currently third in the DP chassis manufacturer standings but could rise as high as second. Lexus is second in the engine manufacturer points and it could take that title; it's currently only 13 points out of first.
The last time the Doran-Lista team raced at Fontana it won. That was in March of 2002, when Theys and Fredy Lienhard Jr. drove the Doran-Lista Dallara Judd to its third straight victory of that season after Theys won his third-straight pole with a lap in 1:29.151 (113.874 mph) for the 2.8-mile, 21-turn infield road course. He also set the fastest race lap in 1:29.322 (113.656 mph). The team also holds the race average speed record for that class at Fontana with an average speed of 104.412 mph.
All of those marks are records that will stand forever since they're for the Sports Racing Prototype class, not the current top class, Daytona Prototype.
Theys noted that California Speedway poses a challenge to the drivers and engineers who are trying to arrive at the optimum set-up for their cars because the track consists of two very different elements. "Fontana has long straightaways and a very tiny infield, so the set-up has to be a compromise," he explained. "You have to have a car that is good on the straightaways as well as in the corners in order to do well there."
Magnussen also has some experience at Fontana. "I tested the Prodrive Ferrari at Fontana in the middle of 2003, so I know the track a little bit," said Magnussen, who was Theys' co-driver when the team won at Watkins Glen, N.Y. earlier this year.
The action starts on Friday, Oct. 29 with practice from 9:40 a.m. until 11:20 a.m. and again from 2:10 p.m. until 2:55 p.m. The following day there is a one-hour practice session at 10 a.m. prior to qualifying at 1:20 p.m. On Sunday, Halloween, there is a warm-up session at 10 a.m. prior to the race beginning at 1 p.m. local time.
After the race the series will honor its champions at an awards ceremony at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas on Monday night, Nov. 1.