DENVER (Aug. 14, 2005) – German Wolf Henzler darted from the pole position in his No. 66 Applied Materials/Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 Cup to open a large margin early during Sunday afternoon's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Round Nine race, part of the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver Presented by PacifiCare.-30-
And after a five-lap, full-course caution, Henzler wasted no time in separating himself from second-place finisher Robin Liddell, of Edinburgh, Scotland, to cement his flag-to-flag victory in the 32-lap race and lead an all-Porsche podium as Henzler’s rookie teammate Lawson Aschenbach, of Gaithersburg, Md., finished third.
Earlier in the week, Henzler talked about his affinity for street courses, and Denver’s streets didn’t disappoint him as he posted the race’s fastest lap on lap four with a 1:15.718 (78.782 mph), and averaged 69.577 mph on the 1.657-mile circuit to beat Liddell by 1.264 seconds. As much as he enjoyed the course, however, Henzler said that a questionable start nearly cost him.
“I didn’t have a very good start. I had a lot of wheel-spin and thought the other drivers would be coming up behind me,” Henzler said. “But Robin had the same problem so we both reached turn one at the same time.
“My team gave me a very good car all weekend. I pushed very hard the entire time. On the restart, I was a little late on the throttle and Robin had a good run. I gave him room next to me for a couple of corners but was able to stay ahead.”
Liddell started second behind Henzler in the No. 66 AXA Financial/PFAFF Porsche 911 Cup, and had fallen behind by more than two seconds early on. However, a spin into the turn eight tires on the sixteenth lap by Bob Woodhouse, of Blair, Neb. (No. 13 Woodhouse Auto Family Dodge Viper), caused a five-lap, full-course caution that bunched the field.
Off the restart, Liddell twice tried to pass Henzler, at turn one and then turn three, but Henzler denied him both times. From there, Henzler drove away, leaving Liddell to battle with Henzler’s teammate, Aschenbach, for second.
“It was a question of getting as close as possible to Wolf,” Liddell said of the restart. “I was right up his chuff. I knew he wasn’t going to do anything dumb like braking, so I just kept my foot on the throttle, and he was on the throttle. As a result, I was able to show him my nose going into the next corner. We kind of ended up side-by-side.
“The only problem I had was he was offline for the left-hander under the bridge, but I wasn’t able to capitalize because I had a little bit of understeer in my car. I just couldn’t get the front of the car inside of him going into the next left-hander. In the end, I think Wolf had a slightly better car, and he drove exceptionally well.”
Although he wasn’t able to catch Liddell in the No. 07 King Auto/Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 Cup, the third-place finish for Aschenbach capped off a strong weekend outing for the rookie as he became the first rookie to record a podium in his debut outing since Henzler at Infineon Raceway in 2004.
“I knew I just needed one real long run on my own to get clean with the car, and get it where I wanted it,” Aschenbach said. “Once the yellow came out, I knew I had a shot. I just had to get around Liddell, and that didn’t happen. He drove a really great race and didn’t make a mistake.”
Current SPEED GT Drivers’ Point Championship leader Andy Pilgrim, of Del Ray Beach, Fla., finished fourth Sunday in his No. 8 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V and slightly extended his lead (202-197) over Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., who wound up sixth in the No. 1 c3controls/3R-Racing Dodge Viper. Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn., came in fifth behind Pilgrim driving the No. 6 Banner Engineering Corvette C6.
Rookie driver Mark LoPilato, of Granbury, Texas, was disqualified in post-race tech after his No. 42 US American Resources Porsche 911 Turbo was discovered to be underweight.
Liddell’s performance moved him into a second-place tie with Archer, while Henzler remains in fourth, with 189 points. Max Papis stayed in fifth, with 145 points, but encountered some bad luck Sunday when his No. 16 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V incurred a broken CV joint at the start of the race.
Led by Henzler, Porsche cashed in on its fine Denver performance and broke open a tight battle with Cadillac. Coming in only up by a single point, Porsche now leads by seven points (52-45) over Cadillac, with two rounds remaining, while Chevrolet is third (33) and Dodge fourth (32).
The SPEED GT portion of the CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver Presented by PacifiCare will be broadcast on SPEED Channel Saturday, Aug. 20 at 2 p.m. (EDT).
For more information, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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