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Andy Lally and John Potter scored their first Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) victory of the season Friday at Watkins Glen International, winning TheGlen.com 200, Round 6 of the 2009 season, in a race held in an intermittent drizzle.
Incident in the early stages of the event led to three of the five cautions, with 10 of the opening 14 circuits run under the yellow flag. From there on, all but seven laps were run under the green. The drizzle picked up over the closing minutes of the event, while terrific battles were staged in both the Grand Sport and Street Tuner classes.
Lally, driving TRG's No. 41 Magnus Racing Porsche 997, took the lead with seven laps remaining and then held off No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 driver Bill Auberlen by 1.117 seconds to score his seventh career victory in the series. It was the first career triumph for his rookie teammate.
"This is a talent rich series and it is really fun to race here," Lally said. "The restart on the final yellow was probably some of the craziest racing moves I have been involved with in a long time. We were four wide door-to-door. I think the front three cars passed each other three or four times within a couple of laps. It was absolutely amazing. It was great for TRG and it is John's first win, so that is cool. It is a big win for me in my home state. We are working real hard to try and put a program together to come back here in August and run the Sprint Cup race. I tested the car at VIR this week and had a blast with the team. I think this win put us back in the hunt for a championship."
Meanwhile, Auberlen held off No. 97 Turner Motorsports BMW M3 teammate Joey Hand in a terrific battle for second, swapping the position at least five times over the closing laps. Auberlen finished second in the team's No. 96 started by Matt Bell, who scored his fourth pole position of the season in qualifying earlier Friday. Hand and Chris Gleason - winners of the most recent race at Lime Rock Park - placed third in the No. 97, 2.314 seconds behind the winner.
"As soon as it got wet, it was over, because Andy had a real strong car in the rain," Auberlen said. "When Joey was behind me, he had an advantage, and when he went by and would have a little slide, I could beat him to the punch. It was good, clean, very hard racing."
Glenn Bocchino and Todd Lamb placed fourth in Kinetic Motorsports' No. 32 Cybernation/Cobalt Friction BMW M3, followed by Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende in TRG's No. 39 The DigiTrust Group/Adams Polishes Porsche 997.
GS point leader Ken Wilden finished sixth in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT started by Dean Martin, extending his lead to 19 points over Bret Seafuse and James Gue (169-150). Gue was running fifth in the No. 47 JBS Motorsports Ford Mustang GT when he spun and impacted a tire barrier with two laps remaining, hanging on to finish ninth.
The GS race featured 10 lead changes among five cars. Martin led a race-high 14 laps, while Auberlen led 14, Lally 11 and Gue 10. Also leading were Bell (four laps), Seafuse (four) and Mustang driver Bryan Ortiz (three).
The race was slowed by five caution periods for 17 laps, with Potter and Lally averaging 82.732 mph in the two-and-a-half hour event
Von Moltke, Sweeney Score First Victory for APR Volkswagen
Dion von Moltke held off veteran Randy Pobst throughout the final half hour, giving the APR Volkswagen team its first KONI Challenge Street Tuner victory. Von Moltke was at the wheel of the No. 171 APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI started by Mike Sweeney.
"It was awesome, to go up against the best and score our first victory," von Moltke said. "I was happy to bring home the first victory for APR; they've done a lot of hard work to get here."
Pobst was seeking his third victory of the season in the No. 74 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si, but came up .501 seconds short at the checkered flag. Christian Miller, who started the race, managed to extend his ST championship lead to 16 points over Ashley McCalmont (175-159). Compass360 was going for its third straight win at Watkins Glen.
"I think I had the best car, but not in the right places," Pobst said. "There wasn't a good place to get around the VW. I was hoping for Dion to make a mistake, but he didn't. He helped Christian extend his points lead, so we're pretty excited about finishing second."
McCalmont scored her second consecutive podium finish, taking third in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt. Jamie Holtom, the 2008 ST champion, took third for the second consecutive race since rejoining his championship team.
Andrew Aquilante and Kristian Skavnes finished fourth in the No. 111 Subaru of America Subaru Legacy, followed by Andrew Burrows and Trevor Hopwood in RSR Motorsports' No. 198 Cruise America/Fischer Skis Mini Cooper S.
Nine ST drivers exchanged the lead eight times. Ian Baas started on the pole in APR's No. 171 APR Tuning/Gunther VW Volkswagen GTI and led 26 laps in a car he shared with rookie Josh Hurley.