David Empringham and John Farano claimed the 2012 Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) driver championship when race-winning co-drivers Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb were declared ineligible for driver points following Saturday's GS race in the Grand-Am Championship Weekend at Lime Rock Park presented by BMW.
Longhi and Plumb combined to earn a series-leading fifth GS victory on the season for Rum Bum Racing in the No. 13 The Billfish Foundation/Rum Bum Film and HD Studios/RumBum.com Porsche Carrera, and the victory would have given the teammates the championship.
However, Longhi did not drive the required 30 minutes in the race to earn points. Plumb was entered in both the No. 13 and the No. 3 The Billfish Foundation/Rum Bum Film and HD Studios/RumBum.com BMW M3, but did not start the race in either car. Grand-Am rules require any driver entered in more than one car to designate and start the race in one of them, and that is the only car in which the driver can earn points.
Plumb's forfeiture of points gave the driver title to No. 83 Tower Events Grandstand Seating & Hospitality Suites Porsche Carrera co-drivers Empringham and Farano, who finished sixth in the race. They would have clinched the championship on the racetrack with a third-place result or better and Empringham was in position to do just that. However, a slight off-course excursion in Turn 3 while battling for third place with John Edwards with less than three minutes remaining dropped him down the order.
“Championships are always hard to get and certainly John and I and our team worked really hard all year,” Empringham said. “With three laps to go in the race, I knew I only had to be third and I had a bit of a wounded car and thought we could hang on, but we didn't. Through a technicality, I guess you could say we've been handed it. I'm sure down the road I'll be happy, but it's kind of a strange situation.”
Finishing second in the two-hour and 30-minute race were No. 46 BCKSTGR/Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 co-drivers Bryan Sellers and Mark Boden, followed by Scott Maxwell and Joe Foster, who took third in the No. 55 Multimatic Motorsports/Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage. Edwards and Matt Bell wound up fourth in the No. 9 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro GS.R, moving Bell to second in the final GS driver standings. Bell finished the season with 235 points, 29 fewer than the 264 scored by Empringham and Farano.
While Plumb and Longhi did not earn points toward the driver championship at Lime Rock, they wound up third in the final driver standings. The No. 13 Rum Bum Racing team still earned the GS team championship by 11 points, 275-264, over the No. 83 BGB Motorsports team. Porsche won the GS manufacturer's championship by 13 points, 303-290, over BMW.
The GS race from Grand-Am Championship Weekend at Lime Rock Park presented by BMW will be televised on SPEED at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 14.