Cincinnati-based Doran Racing will send two Nissan 370Zs into battle in a Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) race this Saturday, headlining the holiday weekend schedule at Lime Rock, a picturesque track in the foothills of Connecticut’s Berkshire Mountains. The team is looking to build on two top five finishes in a row when they take to the grid this weekend.
Brad Jaeger of Charlottesville, Virginia and B.J. Zacharias of Cincinnati, Ohio will drive the team’s #14 Nissan NISMO 370Z RC. The team’s #41 Tower Events Nissan 370Z is co-driven by two former series champions from Toronto: John Farano and David Empringham.
Unlike most of the series’ other events, the Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) classes will run two separate races at Lime Rock due to the small dimensions of the 1.5-mile, seven-turn road course. Doran Racing competes in the GS division, and its race is scheduled to take the green flag at 2:15 p.m. ET Saturday. Its two Nissans will be part of a 26-car field in the two-hour-and-30-minute race at the iconic track.
Series veteran Zacharias may have put it best when he suggested that Lime Rock is road racing’s version of stock car racing’s Bristol Motor Speedway. He also said it may be the most difficult race in the series. “It’s a short, narrow track with extremely close competition and limited passing zones, so hang on kids; it may be a bumpy ride,” said Zacharias.
Zacharias knows the circuit well, as he attended his first Skip Barber Racing School there many years ago, and one of his uncles was Lime Rock’s track manager in the late 80s and early 90s.
Both Zacharias and Jaeger spoke about how easy it is to go a lap down at Lime Rock.
“Unfortunately it’s not hard to go down a lap. One little hiccup on anything, and before you can blink twice it can happen,” said Zacharias.
“Lime Rock is an incredibly short track,” said Jaeger. “The lap times are closer to those you would see on an oval track than a road-racing circuit, which means it is easy to find yourself a lap down if you have problems. I think it’s going to be important to run a clean, quick race for the first two hours and then fight the last 30 minutes.”
Although Farano and Empringham didn’t compete in this particular event last year, they have fond memories of the track. In 2012, they clinched the CTSCC championship there as teammates.
“John has also run Lime Rock several times in Ferrari Challenge and has done quite well, so we really are hoping for a strong run for the Tower Events Nissan,” said Empringham. “We are hoping for a few BOP [balance of performance/rules] adjustments going into Lime Rock, but we do believe the short track should suit the Nissan.”
“I’m hopeful that some of the developments we have made on the car will help us at the track this year,” said Jaeger. “There are definitely a few corners where the Nissan 370Z shines at Lime Rock, but our goal is to get a good overall balance with the car around the whole track.”
Nissan had great results at the most-recent race on May 3 at California’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with three cars in the top six.
“We’re hoping for another top-seven finish,” said Zacharias. “A top-five would be outstanding.”
All the drivers hope to run the entire race clean.
“Although I find it fun to have the giant fields of ST and GS together, Lime Rock Park is so small that it’s nice to have the split races,” said Empringham. “Overall, John and I have had our fair share of bad luck this year, and we are really hoping to get our first podium of the year at Lime Rock.”
Another challenge will be the lack of time on the track prior to the race. The weekend schedule shows just two 25-minute practice sessions at 11:25 a.m. and 2:55 p.m. on Friday before qualifying is held at 5:10 p.m. that day. Live timing and scoring of those sessions as well as Saturday’s races will be available on imsa.com.
After Lime Rock, the series appears at Kansas Speedway on June 7 and Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. on June 28-29.