MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 17, 2004) – German Wolf Henzler captured his second SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship win in as many tries, holding off Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif., to win the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., finished third to win his first SCCA SPEED GT Drivers’ Championship, while Audi clinched the Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine.
Starting from his first-career pole position, Henzler got the holeshot on the field in his No. 17 Farnbacher Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and held the point for the remainder of the 28-lap, 62.664-mile contest. He was able to fend off a final lap attack by Said’s No. 30 Applied Computer Solutions Saleen SR to win by 2.391 seconds.
Behind Henzler and Said, both making cameo appearances in the series, the action was furious as both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships were up for grabs. Archer, who started seventh in his No. 22 c3controls/Whelen Engineering/3R-Racing Dodge Viper Comp Coupe, stalled on the standing start and fell to 14th place at the end of the first lap, six positions behind Championship leader Michael Galati.
After a three-lap caution period to clean up a startline incident and attend to Mike Davis’ Saleen SR, which caught fire in turn five, Archer set his sights on the prize, knowing he needed to score at least five more points than Galati to take home the title. He caught and passed Galati’s No. 2 Audi Certified Pre-Owned Audi RS 6 on the eighth lap. He moved into fifth on lap 11, as Galati fell to 10th, giving Archer the gap he needed to exceed him in points. Over the next three laps, Archer was able to work past Galati’s Audi teammates Peter Cunningham and Randy Pobst to move to third, where he remained for the duration. The lap-14 pass on Pobst entering the famed Corkscrew earned him the Remus Power Move of the Race.
“I tried to start with a little lower rpm, which wasn't a good idea,” Archer said of his start. “I then thought that the race and championship was gone. Will Moody and I put a setup under the car that was just great. That gave me the confidence to move through the field. The car was the best it has been all weekend. I was able to drive hard the whole race until the tires started to fall off with about five laps to go. The team has worked hard all year, Dodge has been a big help along with c3controls and Whelen Engineering."
Up front, Henzler and Said checked out on the field, with Said’s Saleen never further back than one second. On the final lap, he broke later than Henzler in turn two and nudged the Porsche. It was not to be, though, as Henzler held on for his second win to accompany his first series appearance at Infineon Raceway earlier this year.
“Before every corner, I had to look in my mirror to see where he [Said] was and to see if he had a chance to over take me or not,” Henzler said of his battle with Said. “I had to defend my position in turn two on the final lap. He was very close, but not close enough to overtake me.”
All was not lost for Galati’s Champion Racing team, as Pobst and Cunningham’s fourth- and fifth-place finishes clinched the Manufacturers’ Championship for Audi. The defending Manufacturers’ winner entered the event tied with Cadillac, meaning that whoever finished in front would take the 2004 title. Cadillac looked up to the challenge, as Andy Pilgrim’s No. 8 Cadillac/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V had the two Audis in sight, but he spun on lap nine. Teammate Max Angelelli charged from 13th on lap one to as high as sixth on lap 21, behind the two Audis. However, it was a high up as he would reach, falling one spot back in the end to seventh, behind the Porsche of Michael Culver.
Audi won the year-long war with Cadillac, finishing with 51 points to Cadillac’s 48. It is Audi’s third Manufacturers’ Championship in the last four years, but Cadillac showed that it will be a future force, taking the race to the wire in its first season of competition. Dodge finished third, with 36 points, followed by Chevrolet (35).
Archer finished the season with 240 points and earned a $40,000 bonus for the Championship. With his 11th-place finish, Galati fell six points short of his record sixth Championship, with 234, followed by Angelelli (206), Pobst (204) and Pilgrim (198).
Mike McCann, of Canton, Ohio, finished eighth in his McCann Plastics Dodge Viper Comp Coupe to clinch the SCCA SPEED GT Rookie of the Year title, topping brother Jim by 30 points.
Monaco’s Olivier Beretta earned the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing a total of 16 positions during the race, after starting at the rear of the field due to a post-qualifying engine change in his No. 12 Cadillac CTS-V. He finished 17th.
Today’s race was broadcast live on SPEED Channel, but will be rebroadcast Thursday, Oct. 21 at 3:00 a.m. (Eastern). For more information, please visit www.world-challenge.com.
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=188