SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by FAO Schwarz: Preview and Standings
17 September 1997With four races left in the Professional SportsCar Racing (PSR) season the series heads to the state of Nevada for the "SportsCar Grand Prix presented by FAO SCHWARZ." Las Vegas Motorspeedway will be the site for the 2 hour Exxon World SportsCar race on Saturday September 20. The two-hour night race will culminate a week-end of racing that features all of the PSR sanctioned series. WSC, GT1-3, Ferrari Challenge, Black Magic Pro Series, and Endurance Cup for Street Stock.
The WSC field will be a record entry list of twenty-one (21) cars. Two new teams will be making their respective debuts in WSC. Paul Debban and Rich Grupp will be piloting Jim Downing's NEC Cellular sponsored Mazda Kudzu. Bill Dollahite and Anthony Lazzaro will compete in the Compaq sponsored Chevrolet Spice.
A big welcome will also be waiting for John Paul, Jr. The Vegas race marks his return to SportsCar racing since his incident at Indianapolis in May. How much seat time will of course be determined by his stamina.
The WSC drivers championship is still led by Dyson Ford driver Elliott-Forbes Robinson (152 points). His teammates James Weaver(144 points) and Butch Leitzinger(141 points) follow closely behind in second and third repectively. Axiom Ferrari driver Rob Morgan holds down fourth place with 136 points. The points battle closed tightly after the Mosport race. Forbes-Robinson dismal 12th place showing at Mosport allowed the other three drivers to catch up. Morgan's victory in the Ferrari was the greatest benefactor.
In the WSC Manufacturer's battle Ford still leads Ferrari 176-168. Ferrari gained 4 points based on Morgan's victory. During the entire season the two manufacturer's have never beem separated by more than 12 points. Oldsmobile holds down third place with 137 points.
The battle for GT-1 supremacy will get a little more interesting this week-end. At Mosport Porsche upped the ante with the Canadian debut of the Porsche 911 GT1. Andy Pilgrim and Dorsey Schroeder had a victorious outing in the Porsche 911 GT1. Their victory stopped the Panoz victory streak at two. In response to the challenge, Panoz announced that it would field a second entry at Vegas. The second car #96 will be piloted by David Brabham and Eric Bernard. Pilgrim holds a commanding lead 156-131 over his teammate/owner Jochen Rohr.
The manufacturer's battle between Porsche and Panoz will surely go down to the wire at Laguna Seca. Porsche still holds a commanding 23 point lead. But Panoz has continually whittled away at that lead. Also, Panoz did not debut their car until the second race of the season at Sebring. Three victories out of six races is not a bad showing.
The GT-2 series continues to be led by Larry Schumacher and John O'Steen in their Porsche GT-2. Another Porsche driver Franz Conrad closed up the points battle with a brilliant first place at Mosport. Schumacher and O'Steen had their worst showing of the season finishing fourth in class. Konrad has now posted three straight victories and has won four of the six races he has entered this year. With Konrad's victory Porsche locked up the manufacturer's championship.
The GT-3 series is led by Porsche driver David Murry with 145 points. BMW drivers Bill Auberlen and Javier Quiros follow closely in second with 142 points each. The manufacturer's series is led by BMW with 178 points.
WSC Championship (Top 5) Driver Marque Points 1)Elliott Forbes-Robinson Ford 152 2)James Weaver Ford 144 3)Butch Leitzinger Ford 141 4)Rob Morgan Ferrari 136 5)Eduardo Dibos Ferrari 122 WSC Championship Manufacturer's Marque Points Victories 1)Ford 176 4 2)Ferrari 168 3 3)Oldsmobile 137 0 4)Mazda 104 0 5)BMW 47 47 GT-1 Championship (Top 5) Driver Marque Points 1)Andy Pilgrim Porsche 156 2)Jochen Rohr Porsche 131 3)Roger Schramm Chevy 123 4)Stu Hayner Chevy 123 5)Doc Bundy Panoz 117 GT-1 Championship Manufacturer's Marque Points Victories 1)Porsche 156 2 2)Panoz 133 3 3)Oldsmobile 92 1 4)Ford 78 0 5)Pontiac 54 0 GT-2 Championship (Top 5) Driver Marque Points 1)Larry Schumacher Porsche 156 2)John O'Steen Porsche 156 3)Franz Konrad Porsche 153 4)Martin Snow Porsche 138 5)Will Pace Porsche 125 GT-2 Championship Manufacturer's Marque Points Victories 1)Porsche 188 7 2)Saleen 41 0 3)Mazda 32 0 4)Pontiac 15 0 GT-3 Championship (Top 5) Driver Marque Points 1)David Murry Porsche 145 2)Bill Auberlen BMW 142 3)Javier Quiros BMW 142 4)Jim Matthews Porsche 140 5)Cort Wagner Porsche 122 GT-3 Championship Manufacturer's Marque Points Victories 1)BMW 178 6 2)Porsche 156 1 3)Saleen 39 0 4)Nissan 35 0 5)Mazda 20 0
David Treffer -- The AutoChannel