CANADA (Sept. 2, 2006) – Five-time SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Champion Michael Galati, of Olmsted, Ohio, gave Volvo its first series win today in a dominating run at an extremely wet Mosport International Raceway. It was the first win for Galati in 18 races and Volvo became a winner for the first time after two full seasons of development. Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., finished second.-30-
Utilizing all-wheel-drive in his fifth-starting No. 24 At-Speed Motorsports Volvo S60R, Galati shot to the lead by turn one to earn the B&M Oil Coolers Coolest Move of the Race and weathered heavy rain throughout to take a whopping one minute, 32.418-second win. The only thing in doubt was if Galati would be able to lap the field, but a late-race miss prevented him from catching Archer in the closing laps.
The rain slowed the pace of the 50-minute timed race to 78.340 mph.
“I don’t know how this feels, to be back to the top step, yet,” Galati said of ending his dry spell. “It feels good to be here all the time and it was quite a tough race here last year and just to be back here feels good again. It’s fantastic. You might need to ask me later cause right now…I’ll let you know.”
While he controlled the race for the first 25 laps, the final two were cause of great concern as the car began to lose power. Worse, he had no communication with his team as the radios failed early in the race.
“Something happened with the motor, I don’t know what it was,” Galati said. “I had a misfire and it ran really bad and I just kept my fingers crossed. There was a lot of smoke, I almost choked. Then, Sonny [Whelen] spun right in front of me with a lap to go. Somebody was watching over me.
“Since the radios didn’t work, I had to look at the scoreboard. I could see that there was four minutes to go and then two. I was just hoping it would hang on.”
It was Galati’s 20th career win, fourth on the all-time series list, and the first since Road America in 2004.
Archer started eighth in his No. 5 c3controls/Dodge Motorsports Dodge Viper, but found himself solidly in third by the second lap. From there, he held on and eventually caught an ailing Ron Fellows in the closing laps to take second.
“I was thinking this morning that after I got messed up in qualifying that fifth would have been pretty fantastic, starting eight,” Archer beamed after his runner-up finish. “There were a lot of tough cars out there. I said to myself ‘you need to take off nice and slow because we don’t have traction control,’ and I almost killed it trying to take off too slow.
“The team kept giving me splits to where the fourth place car was and I just tried to keep catching traffic and putting lapped cars in between and it worked.”
Fellows, who started from the pole in his No. 16 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V, was the only driver who could run a lap time within two seconds of Galati, no doubt capitalizing on his track knowledge. The Mississauga, Ontario driver developed a late electrical problem, but was able to hold on to third, albeit one lap down to Galati.
“Conditions were obviously terrible, lots of standing water,” said Fellows, who entered the weekend with two wins in three tries at Mosport. “I was talking to SPEED Channel before the race about the Volvo and I said ‘well, I’m guessing he’ll get me before the bridge with that all-wheel-drive’ and I was right. Other than that the car was fine. I did start losing power, I think it was sucking water and we lost about seven seconds a lap, between seven and nine, depending on how bad it was, and that was pretty much our race. We were able to hang on to third, which was good for Cadillac.”
James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., had a great run up from 14th on the grid to finish fourth in his No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3. Bob Woodhouse, of Blair, Neb., was fifth in his No. 13 Woodhouse Auto Family Dodge Viper.
Point leader Lawson Aschenbach (No. 66 AXA Financial Porsche 911 GT3) was sixth, and earned the Piloti Rookie of the Race award as the top finishing rookie.
Tom Papadopoulos (Aston Martin DB9) had a career-best finish in seventh, followed by Ricardo Imery (Porsche 911 GT3), Lou Gigliotti (Chevrolet Corvette C6) and Rob Foster (Dodge Viper).
Sonny Whelen, of Old Saybrook, Conn., advanced 12 positions from his starting position to finish 12th in his No. 31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette C6 to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger.
Aschenbach extended his point lead going into the penultimate round at Road Atlanta at the end of the month to nine over Gigliotti (193 to 184). Andy Pilgrim’s title defense took a major hit when his Cadillac developed running problems early in the race and led to a 21st-place finish. He remains third in points, with 171, followed by Imery (170) and Woodhouse (155).
Porsche still leads the Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine, but by just one point over Dodge, 48 to 47. Cadillac is third, with 41, followed by Chevrolet, with 34.
Today’s race will air on SPEED Channel Sunday, Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. (EDT).
Round Nine of the 10-race Championship is Friday, Sept. 29 at Road Atlanta.
For additional series information, please visit www.world-challenge.com.