Trans-Am Series Practice Day at Autobahn Goes to Lopez

Series Staff
Jul. 30, 2010

JOLIET, Ill. -RJ Lopez, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has led the last three on-track sessions for the SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series, dating back to his first career Trans-Am victory in the race at Toronto two weeks ago and including both practice sessions today in preparation for Sunday’s Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda.
RJ Lopez (No. 6) led both Trans-Am Series practice sessions at Autobahn Country Club on Friday. Credit: Reece White/SCCA

Unfortunately for Lopez, who drives the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette, he only earned points for his performance in one of those sessions, and that was at the Honda Indy Toronto. However, he certainly set the stage to score lots of points in Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race after leading both practice sessions on Friday.

Lopez was more than 1.5 seconds quicker than his next closest competitor in the first practice of the weekend this morning with a lap at 2:19.539 (90.297 mph), which turned out to be the fastest lap of the day. Lopez topped the second session, albeit by a much closer margin, with a lap at 2:19.582 (90.269 mph).

“We’re the champions of practice,” said Lopez. “I’m pretty happy about that. The most important thing is, we really got our momentum up from Toronto. The crew, the team, myself, we really needed that win to let us know that we can still do it and we’ve still got a shot at the championship and just run up front. We’re trying to keep that momentum. The crew put together a great car. This car has always really worked well on the bumpier tracks and this track is actually bumpier than Toronto. It’s like driving a three-and-a-half mile street course is what we’re doing.

“The car is great. Every setup change we made to the car has been a positive one. I’m just making sure we have a nice, comfortable car for the race, which is just like Toronto. We are quickest and we’re really happy about that, but the most important thing to us is that the car is comfortable. It’s going to go the distance and I’m not beating the car up trying to do that. That’s what we’ve got and it’s looking good.”

Tomy Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., wound up second quickest on the day following a best lap at 2:19.618 (90.246 mph) in the No. 5 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Jaguar XKR. As this weekend marks the inaugural appearance on the 3.56-mile, 19-turn Autobahn Country Club circuit, Drissi noted that he – like many other drivers – are still learning the nuances of the racetrack.

“This is a diabolical track,” Drissi said. “I don’t know who designed it, but the designer of the track is like a Hollywood movie director going, ‘Oh, I’m going to get the audience here, and then I’m going to make ‘em go to sleep here but wake ‘em up really quick here.’ It’s great.

“Much thanks to RSR. The guys just worked really hard. We made a couple changes. The track is going to be the hardest adversary here this weekend. I think if I can pull everything together for tomorrow, it’s going to be a big lap. We’re either going to be OK, or it’s going to be a big one and we’ll give these guys something to think about.”

Championship leader Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., wound up third on the day with a lap at 2:20.474 (89.696 mph) in the No. 4 Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette. Ave’s quickest laps came at the end of the second practice session.

“We ran race distance tires the first half and then another set that’s got about 80 miles on them, but I think we got within a second of what they ran, so I’m not too worried about that,” explained Ave. “We’re just focused on getting that last 20 laps of the race and being fast, so I think we’ll be all right like that. It’s really slippery. It’s bumpy, but the bumps you can deal with. It’s just really slippery, so we’re just trying to get the car compliant enough, but yet still have it stable. We seem to be gaining on that.”

Amy Ruman, of Kent, Ohio, drove her No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet to fourth on the combined time sheet with a best lap at 2:21.487 (89.054 mph) in the morning practice session. Rick Dittman, of Lincolnshire, Ill., completed the top five in the No. 24 RDE Chevrolet Corvette at 2:23.269 (87.946 mph).

In the STO class, Joe Koenig posted the quickest time in the No. 70 Trim-Tex Drywall Products/Fall-Line BMW M3. Koenig’s best lap of the day was a 2:33.185 (82.253 mph) in the afternoon session.

JOLIET, Ill. – Combined practice results for Sunday’s SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series Round 7 race, part of the Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda at Autobahn Country Club, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.

1. (6) RJ Lopez, Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, Chevrolet Corvette, 2:19.539, 90.297.

2. (5) Tomy Drissi, Hollywood, Calif., Jaguar XKR, 2:19.618, 90.246.

3. (4), Tony Ave, Maiden, N.C., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:20.474, 89.696.

4. (23) Amy Ruman, Kent, Ohio, Chevrolet Corvette, 2:21.487, 89.054.

5. (24) Rick Dittman, Lincolnshire, Ill., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:23.269, 87.946.

6. (59) Simon Gregg, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:23.320, 87.915.

7. (36) Cliff Ebben, Appleton, Wis., Ford Mustang, 2:24.771, 87.034.

8. (77) Glen Jung, Osteen, Fla., Mazda RX-7, 2:25.080, 86.848.

9. (66) Denny Lamers, Appleton, Wis., Ford Mustang, 2:28.017, 85.125.

10. (70) Joe Koenig (STO), BMW M3, 2:33.185, 82.253.

11. (45) Mark Boden (STO), Northbrook, Ill., Porsche 996 GT3 Cup, 2:34.212, 81.705.

12. (72) James Hamman (STO), Barrington, Ill., BMW M3, 2:38.557, 79.466.

13. (75) Buddy Cisar, Bellevue, Neb., Chevrolet Camaro, 2:40.622, 78.445.


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