LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 27, 2004) – Michael Galati, of North Olmsted, Ohio, ended his nearly two-year winless streak, taking a hometown SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Teammate Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., and John Heinricy, of Holly, Mich., completed the top three.
Driving the No. 2 Audi Certified Pre-Owned Audi RS 6, Galati led from the pole position on his home track, and held off a determined Pobst and Heinricy in the closing stages to win his first race since July 2002, ending his 17-race drought. The five-time series Champion won by a record-close margin of victory at 0.249-second and averaged a caution-slowed 78.283 mph.
“The whole weekend we worked really hard,” Galati said. “We tried to overcome the [additional] weight on the cars this weekend. We knew it was going to be a problem. I think the team did a fabulous job. Knowing the track as well as I do and having a decent car, if this would have gone green all the way, with the weight, we would have paid the price. You could tell towards the end we had nothing for those guys.
“It’s a great feeling,” Galati added about ending his winless streak. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Pobst, whose No. 1 Audi Certified Pre-Owned Audi RS 6 led Galati in the team’s one-two finish at the most recent round at Lime Rock Park, qualified on the outside pole and followed chased Galati for the first six laps, when a caution period came out due to debris on the course from Tim Wiens’ blown Dodge Viper engine. The lengthy cleanup set up a 20-minute dash to the finish.
“I think [the yellow] helped tremendously because we had problems with the front tires,” Galati added. “I think if it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t have won it.”
“That hurt me,” Pobst said about the yellow flag. “My car was better on a long run, but it helped Michael.”
Being pressured by Heinricy’s No. 12 Cadillac/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V, Pobst applied pressure on his teammate, but did not have an opportunity to make a safe move, and settled for second.
“I had to balance it between getting passed by John Heinricy in the Cadillac and passing Michael [Galati],” Pobst added of his run. “The Champion Racing Certified Audis were really well set up and mine was better than Michael’s. But, I just could not find a way by. I was fighting every second. I am happy for a second [place finish]. I’m on the come back trail.”
Heinricy, the director of high performance product engineering at General Motors, made his debut in the car, and his first series appearance in four years, in grand fashion, qualifying fourth and finishing third. The entry was the third in Team Cadillac’s stable, joining pre-event point leader Max Angelelli and Andy Pilgrim. With it being Heinricy’s first run, it also meant his car was considerably lighter than his teammates, who carry additional weight due to their previous success this season.
“We were just lacking little power out of the turns,” Heinricy said. “It seemed like we had them reasonably well under braking and cornering we were pretty equal. But, when it came to the straightaway, I just couldn’t keep up with them enough to get alongside of them in the turns. It was a lot of work. I had a lot of fun. And, for me to get to drive this car is a dream come true.
“Max [Angelelli], Andy [Pilgrim] and I worked like a team. We were looking at data after every run and debriefing each other. There were parts where they were faster than I was and I was faster them. So, we shared everything and worked to bring all three cars up. It was a real team effort to get where we are.”
Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., continued his streak of fourth-place finishes in the No. 22 3R-Racing/c3controls Dodge Viper Competition Coupe. He has finished fourth in each race this season. Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, was fifth in his Corvette.
Angelelli and Pilgrim finished sixth and seventh in their Cadillacs, allowing Galati and Audi to move ahead in the series’ point standings. Galati now leads the Drivers’ Championship, with 89 points, followed by Angelelli (80), Archer (69), Pilgrim (68) and Pobst (63). Audi’s win broke the deadlock in the Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine. They now lead with 23, followed by Cadillac (19), Dodge (nine) and Chevrolet (five).
Pilgrim’s pass on lap 20 of John Young’s Saleen SR earned him the Remus Power Move of the Race. Stu Hayner, of Yorba Linda, Calif., moved from 25th on the grid to finish 15th in his Pontiac GTO, earning him the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
The top three finishers on today’s podium are also past National Champions from the SCCA Club Racing Runoffs®, held annually at Mid-Ohio.
Round Four of the 2004 SCCA SPEED GT Championship is set for July 18 at Infineon Raceway, in Sonoma, Calif. For more information, please visit www.world-challenge.com.
For race results, and all the race information, visit http://www.world-challenge.com
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