Keen's Team West/AJR Ferrari Third Place Qualifying Effort Negated at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - Leh Keen and Townsend Bell will start the No. 23 Team West/Alex Job Racing/Boardwalk Ferrari from the back of the GT grid for tomorrow's running of the American Le Mans Series Orion Energy Systems at Road America. Keen's amazing lap, which originally had him third in class, was negated due to a failed stall test in post qualifying inspection.
Although the lap was disallowed, Keen (Charleston, SC) put in a time of 2:04.269 that would have been good for third on the ultra-competitive GT grid. The effort is a high watermark for the team on the season. Keen was able to carry over the Ferrari speed from Saturday when he put the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari on the Grand-Am pole. Keen put in his fast lap on only his second circuit of the qualifying session.
"Third is pretty awesome," Keen said. "It maybe a little surprising, but the car worked really well this morning in the cool air and I felt really comfortable. We had a good strategy to work the tires up and I was able to get the most out of them in the one qualifier that I ran. Yokohama has a good tire and the team put a good car under me. It is particularly rewarding to put in such a good time with how competitive the GT field is in the ALMS. It goes nicely with my pole position in GT in Grand-Am this weekend. It is too bad we failed tech, but I am still proud of the lap and the team."
Bell (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) was equally impressed with Keen's lap.
"Leh was incredible in qualifying," Bell said. "He dug really deep and put in a very brave lap that resulted in an amazing lap time. The car is great. We've worked hard to optimize the handling of the car with the Yokohama tires around this legendary track. Thanks to Leh we have proved that the red and white Team West/AJR Ferrari can be a contender. Even though we are not starting third, we know we have the speed and we will try to carry Leh's effort over into the race for a good finish tomorrow."
Eduardo Espindola, team co-owner, is proud of the team.
"What an effort by Leh and the team this morning," Espindola said. "His qualifying run was a real pick-me-up for the guys. Although we have to start from the back, the speed we showed in qualifying put a smile on our faces and makes the hard work all worth it at the end of the day."
Alex Job, team co-owner, likes the effort so far this weekend.
"Great job by Leh and the team," Job said. "He did a good job to maximize everything this morning in qualifying. He was able to get the most out of the tires and the effort resulted in a great third place qualifying run. The officials did a standard stall test. They insert a rubber tool into the air intake in the car and it has to stall. We found a worn air box gasket that we have replaced. We will see if we can parlay the effort into a strong finish tomorrow."
The American Le Mans Series Orion Energy Systems event will be broadcast on Aug. 11 at 3:00 pm EDT on ABC.
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 70 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won four championships (GTC 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts nine Sebring 12-hour wins.
The ALMS GT Class is comprised of production-based, moderately-modified, two-wheel drive race cars including the BMW Z4, Corvette C6.R, Ferrari F458 GT, Viper SRT and Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The GT cars share many similarities to their showroom brands. With top speeds of up to 180 mph, these elite GTs produce between 450-500 horsepower and have a minimum weight of 1,145 kilograms (2,480 pounds). All GT race cars have green Leader Light System race position lights and green car numbers.