The event took a tragic turn on Friday when Jorg Bastuck, the navigator for Aaron Burkart in the Junior Class No. 54 OMV Citroen C2, was struck by the No. 53 Stobart VK Ford Fiesta of Barry Clark and Scott Martin, resulting in fatal injuries. Burkart and Bastuck had gone off-course on the second stage of the event, incurring wheel damage. Bastuck was changing the wheel when Clark’s Fiesta went off-course in the same spot, striking Bastuck. The rally organizers canceled the post-race podium celebrations as a mark of respect to Bastuck.
The series will be back in action in two weeks in Corsica for the Rally of France.
WRC Rally of Catalunya Top Five:
1) Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena, No. 1 Kronos Citroen Xsara WRC, 3h22:01.7
2) Daniel Sordo/Marc Marti, No. 15 Kronos Citroen Xsara, -48.2sec
3) Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen, No. 3 Ford Focus RS WRC 06, -1:45.8
4) Alex Bengue/Caroline Escudero, No. 19 Peugeot 307 WRC, -2:01.9
5) Jan Kopecky/Filip Schovanek, No. 21 Skoda Fabia WRC, -3:37.8
Driver’s Championship: 1) Sebastien Loeb, 36; 2) Marcus Gronholm, 27; 3) Daniel Sordo, 14; 4) Manfred Stohl, 11; 5) Petter Solberg, 10.
Grand-Am: Long/Rockenfeller Win at Homestead
The No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports Porsche/Crawford of Patrick Long and Mike Rockenfeller won the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday night, delivering on the promise it showed in the season opener at Daytona.
The No. 23 is a part-time effort, due to a baffling lack of sponsorship, but was totally dominant in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, clocking laps 1.5sec faster than its competitors before being sidelined with CV boot failures. It wasn’t quite as dominant at Homestead, maybe .4sec per lap faster, but it had a new challenger in the similar No. 39 Cheever Racing Porsche/Crawford of Christian Fittipaldi/Lucas Luhr. Those two cars were the class of the field, with the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus/Riley of Scott Pruett/Luis Diaz, which has won the last two races, looking like their closest competition.
Long and Rockenfeller waited a long time for their second pit stop, which assured them of fresher tires at the end. They had to work their way back through the field as the race wound down. Pruett and Diaz had optimized their strategy and were took the lead when Long pitted to hand over to Rockenfeller on Lap 70. Pruett led until Lap 89 of the 107-lap race, when Rockenfeller shot past in a three-wide gaggle of traffic. Pruett then had to hold off Luhr, who forced the issue on the last lap and banged his way past to claim second.
Pruett held on to claim the final podium spot, with the Ford/Crawfords of Memo Gidley/Michael McDowell and Rob Finlay/Michael Valiante completing the top five.
In the GT class, the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R of Kelly Collins/Paul Edwards passed the surprising new No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of Sylvain Tremblay/David Haskell with two laps remaining to claim the class win in 24th overall. The No. 72 Tafel Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Wolf Henzler/Robin Liddell was third in class.
The Daytona Prototypes will head west for their next event as the supporting event in the Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 8th, while the GT teams will rejoin the tour at Virginia International Raceway on April 23rd.
Grand-Am Rolex Series Top Five:
1) Patrick Long/Mike Rockenfeller, No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports Porsche/Crawford, 107 laps
2) Christian Fittipaldi/Lucas Luhr, No. 39 Cheever Racing Porsche/Crawford, -4.883sec
3) Scott Pruett/Luis Diaz, No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus/Riley, -5.051sec
4) Memo Gidley/Michael McDowell, No. 19 Finlay Motorsports Ford/Crawford, -9.408sec
5) Rob Finlay/Michael Valiante, No. 5 Essex Racing Ford/Crawford, -10.459sec