CANADA (Sept. 3, 2006) – Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., battled damp conditions, a slew of Acuras and a Mazda to wheel his Audi A4 to a second-consecutive SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car win today at Mosport International Raceway, part of the Mobil 1 Presents Labour Day Grand Prix Weekend. Brandon Davis, of Denver, Colo., and Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., completed the podium.-30-
Herr started from the pole on the damp track, but relinquished the lead twice over the course of the 25-lap, 61.475-mile event that was limited to 50 minutes in duration. In the end, he took his third-career win by 6.491 seconds, averaging 72.074 mph.
Driving the No. 17 Agincourt Autohaus/STaSIS Audi A4, Herr relinquished the lead to the No. 73 Tri-Point Motorsports/Mazdaspeed Mazda 6 of Randy Pobst at the start, done single-file, similar to a re-start, after a delay to retrieve a broken down car on the formation lap aborted the traditional standing start. Herr re-took the point from Pobst on the third lap, only to come under attack by a slew of Acuras.
On a lap-13 restart, Davis got the jump on the field from fourth to take the lead in his No. 20 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura TSX. From there, he held off a furious attack from teammate Kleinubing, in the No. 42 entry, until Kleinubing succumbed to pressure from Herr on lap 19. Two laps later, Herr was past Davis for the lead, and clicked off a succession of fastest race laps to speed away to the win.
“On the restart my car just completely shut down,” Herr said of the restart when Davis and Kleinubing passed for the lead. “I was on the throttle. It would have been a nice drag race for us, but my car just cut out and I saw a lot of cars come to the inside of me. I knew it was a long race so I had to just hang back there and hope that the problem would fix itself.”
After watching Michael Galati use all-wheel-drive in rainy conditions to lap all but second place in the SPEED GT race, Herr was confident of his chances in Sunday’s damp conditions.
“The weather was definitely a factor for the STaSIS Audi,” said Herr, who also won at Mid-Ohio in May and at Road America two weeks ago. “The car handles really well in the dry, but when it comes to wet weather…I really thought we had a huge advantage over the Acuras. But today, I’m really impressed how well these guys drove and how well their cars handled, because the only advantage I saw was coming out of Turn Five, which is a really slow turn, so it’s just about traction. Everywhere else it was pretty heads-up with them.
“It was a good run for us today. Agincourt Autohaus was a big help coming on board this week in Canada. We didn’t expect two wins in-a-row, nobody expects wins in SPEED World Challenge, but we’ll take ’em when we can get ’em.”
Davis, who started from the pole and led at Mosport in 2005, hoped to score the second win of his career on Sunday, but it was not to be. He was proud of the Acura’s performance in the wet, though, against the all-wheel-drive Audi.
“On the exit of ten there’s a concrete patch, and you can’t do this during the race, because you’d be going too slow and it’d take too long, but on the restart, I went all the way to the outside and then cut back across and pulled out to the asphalt on the inside and got a great launch,” Davis said of his move to the lead. “Going into Turn One, I was next to Pierre [Kleinubing] and I had the outside and I carried in a little more speed.
“I didn’t know how long Chip [Herr] was going to stay back there with the Audi. The all-wheel drive is definitely a frightening sight to see in my mirrors. Obviously, the front-wheel drive cars, our cars, are absolutely amazing. So I have RealTime Acura to thank for that.”
Kleinubing, who had won two of the previous three SPEED Touring Car rain races, also viewed the day as a success in conditions that were not as favorable to his mount as the Audi. He was in contention for the win early and scored valuable points in both the Drivers and Manufacturers’ Championships.
“The whole time, I was worrying about [main Championship rival] Randy [Pobst], so I knew what I had to do was finish ahead of him,” Kleinubing said. “Once I got by him I pulled away. I had things under control. I was hoping to go for longer with Chip [Herr], but I could never capitalize on it. It seemed like the longer the run, the better we got to a certain point. Toward the end though, it sort of went away and it went [Herr’s] way.
“It’s unbelievable what we can do with a front-wheel drive car against the Audis. It didn’t seem to be any worse than the Audi other than coming out of Turn Five, so my hat’s off to Acura today, an unbelievable car.”
Peter Cunningham, of Grafton, Wis., was the third RealTime Acura TSX in a row, finishing fourth, followed by Eric Curran, of E. Hampton, Mass., in one of the team’s Acura RSXs.
Christian Miller, of Newark, Calif., had a career-best finish of sixth in his No. 25 034 Motorsport Volkswagen Jetta, earning Piloti Rookie of the Race honors.
Pobst (Mazda 6), Robb Holland (Dodge SRT4), Jeff Courtney (Audi A4) and Jeff Altenburg (Mazda 6) completed the top 10.
Brian Smith, of Simpsonville, S.C., advanced from 21st on the grid to finish 11th in his No. 13 Woodhouse Auto Family/Kicker Dodge SRT4 to take home the Sunoco Hard Charger award. Jeff Nowicki, of Birmingham, Mich., advanced six positions on the first lap in his Ford Focus to win the B&M Shifters Holeshot Award.
Kleinubing extended his season points lead to 24 over Pobst (238 to 214) with just two races remaining. Defending Champion Cunningham is third, with 184, followed closely by Herr, at 183. Davis completes the top five, with 173.
Acura pushed its Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine lead to 14 points over Mazda 59 to 45. A second-place finish at the penultimate Round at Road Atlanta Sept. 29 can clinch the title. Audi has made inroads on the Championship the last two races with two wins and sits third, with 31, followed by BMW (11) and Dodge (five).
Today’s race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel Sunday, Sept. 10 at 3 p.m. (EDT).
For additional information, please visit www.world-challenge.com.