DAYTONA BEACH, November 12, 2011: Locked in a tight, three-way battle for his second-consecutive Cayman Interseries endurance-division championship heading into this weekend’s season-ending HSR Daytona Historics at Daytona International Speedway (DIS), November 11 – 13, reigning class champion Lee Davis was looking for an edge on the competition and found one Friday in qualifying for this weekend’s trio of races. Davis, at the wheel of his black and red No. 33 Cayman S that carries the colors of the Advan Porsche 956s and 962s and Luna-C Clothing, won the pole in the Friday afternoon qualifying session to establish the Cayman Interseries track record on the DIS road course with a top lap time of 2:02.775.
This weekend’s event marks the first official points race at Daytona for the Cayman Interseries, which is both a modern-day showcase of Porsche excellence and a rolling tribute to the legendary marque’s rich racing heritage. The Cayman Interseries raced at Daytona during its first partial season of unofficial competition in 2009 but this weekend is the true debut for the Caymans on the challenging DIS road course.
Davis won the 2010 Cayman Interseries endurance title and is looking not only for a repeat crown but also this year’s sprint-class championship in this weekend’s season finale. The schedule features a pair of sprint races, one each on Saturday and Sunday, as well as a one-hour enduro on Saturday afternoon.
“Winning both championships is our goal,” Davis said. “That would be fantastic, really cool, it has been a long year and we have had our challenges, but we have met them pretty well. The goal is to come in here and win championships, and that’s what we want to do. We are here to win and to have fun, there’s a lot of great people and a lot of great driving in the series, but at the same time we work hard at it and we are looking forward to giving it our best to win a championship.”
Davis, coach and co-driver Ryan Eversley and the Porsche Napleton Racing (PNR) crew overcame some early electrical issues to top not only qualifying but also Friday morning’s opening practice session.
“I feel awesome about the 33,” Davis said. “We had a few issues when we brought it out, but I think I have said that most every time this year, so maybe that’s a good luck charm for us. We definitely got it worked out, the car was fantastic, it’s a beautiful day in Daytona and it is going to be a fun race.”
While Davis has a marginally comfortable lead in the sprint championship standings, he is locked in nearly a three-way tie in the endurance battle with fellow 2011 race winners Mark Sandridge and Bill Riddell.
Sandridge, who drives a white and red-and-yellow striped No. 49 Cayman S that is modeled after his 1994 IMSA Champion Team Salad Porsche 911 RSR, qualified third quickest Friday while Riddell is just one spot behind in fourth. Sandridge turned a top lap of 2:03.917 while Riddell clocked in at 2:05.685 in his No. 80 Cayman S that pays tribute to a David Piper Racing Porsche 917K. Sandridge was also quickest in Friday’s second practice session before qualifying.
A potential championship spoiler is racing newcomer Bob Schneider who qualified a career-best second in his white No. 40 Cayman S that runs in the colors of the legendary Martini “Baby” Porsche 935. Schneider hit the podium in his first ever race weekend at Mid-Ohio just this past June and has continued to improve every race weekend. He is making his Daytona debut this weekend and lapped at 2:03.681 in qualifying.
“Most of these guys that I am running against have been to this track before,” Schneider said. “I really didn’t think I could get close to them, they are all great competitors, Mark and Lee are super fast, so I honestly didn’t think I would get anywhere near them.”
Schneider has gained some valuable insight from driving coach Chris Hall, a career motorsports professional who has experience in not only the Cayman Interseries but just about every top-tier sports car road racing series in North America. Hall is a native of England but has lived in the Daytona-area community of Port Orange for years.
“Chris’s local knowledge of the track has been huge and my chief mechanic Bob Russo has done a great job of setting the car up,” Schneider said. “I learned that you need great guys helping you with setup and great guys coaching you. I am living proof anything is possible.”
Tim Lewis Jr. rounded out the top-five qualifiers Friday with a lap time of 2:06.161 in a pink and white No. 9 Cayman S that is themed after the 1989 Blaupunkt/Joest Racing Porsche 962C. He co-drives with car owner Jim Thomason and the duo scored their first Cayman Interseries enduro victory last month at Sebring International Raceway.