CANADA (Sept. 3, 2005) – The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT field fell into chaos just moments after starting its Round 10 race as part of the Labour Day Weekend Grand Prix of Mosport. Canadian Ron Fellows, however, restored order a short time later, overtaking then-leader Lou Gigliotti on Lap 10 in the No. 12 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V and sailing away for the win at Mosport International Raceway. -30-
Gigliotti finished second in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers, while Patrick Long, of Las Vegas, Nev., was the largest beneficiary of the first-lap melee, finishing third (and scoring crucial Manufacturer points for Porsche) after starting 16th in the No. 07 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 Cup.
It wasn’t Fellows’ Cadillac but his teammate Max Papis’ No. 16 that had the earliest lead as he launched off the start from his third-starting spot to take the point going into Turn 1. However, as Papis made the turn, his Cadillac spun in the middle of the track, forcing the rest of the 23-car field into evasive action.
Unfortunately, 11 cars, including three of the top four on the grid, weren’t able to avoid one another. Polesitter Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn. (No. 6 Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette C6); German fourth-qualifier Mike Rockenfeller (No. 65 PFAFF/AXA Financial Porsche 911 Cup); and Papis all sustained damage.
German Wolf Henzler’s No. 55 Porsche was also involved in the incident, as was the No. 66 Porsche driven by Robin Liddell and the No. 14 Porsche piloted by James Sofronas. All three drivers continued and were able to finish the race.
Involved, but not able to finish the race, however, were Tim Wiens, Jim Osborn, Lenny Diller, Tony Gaples and Mike McCann. All drivers were uninjured.
After the carnage was cleared, action went back to green on Lap 9 and Gigliotti, who held the lead through the caution, bolted away from the pack, trailed by Fellows and Long. A lap later, however, Fellows pulled off a fantastic pass on Gigliotti at Turn 10 to take the lead.
He never looked back from there, running in front for the remainder of the 26-lap, timed race and taking the win by 0.814-second, with an average speed of 75.125 mph.
Fellows said that avoiding Papis and company started before any of the mess unfolded.
“I got a real good start,” said Fellows, who was making a guest appearance for Cadillac. “I got pinched by a couple of Porsches and I just wanted to go wide. It seemed that everybody was crowding to the inside and I went wide.
“The next thing I knew, there was a car spinning to the inside, and I went wider to avoid it and we were lucky.”
Fellows also said the long caution helped his chances of winning.
“I probably had three more laps and Lou was probably going to go by,” Fellows said. “We were sliding around at the end. I think the short format certainly helped us and we’ll take a win at the home track any way. You see Patrick [Long] come in and a couple of other quick guys in Porsches. Obviously, everybody is taking this pretty seriously and so is Team Cadillac.
“As the senior member of the GM Racing staff, and after our little success here last year, it was great to get the opportunity to go out and get another win.”
Gigliotti said that he just got beat by a great move after the restart, but one that he should have seen coming.
“I got beat by a classic Mosport move. Passing me into 10, what a fool I was!” Gigliotti said. “You’re supposed to block that on the first lap when the tires are cold, but I didn’t do it. Ron [Fellows] did that and passed me and then it was just follow the leader.
“It was a great race. I’m telling you, it was fun.”
Long, who won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award after managing to squeak through the early pileup, said that his chances of moving up even further were short-lived, but the weekend, which was his first in World Challenge, was a good learning experience overall.
“On the restart, I thought I might be able to race with these guys here, but they were too tough,” said Long, who runs full-time in ALMS as one of Porsche’s factory drivers. “I just tried to hold on and was able to finish third.
“I think it’s another feather in my cap and a learning experience because a lot of America’s top sports car drivers seem to be able to jump in and out of every kind of race car.”
With a fourth-place showing Saturday, Cadillac’s Andy Pilgrim, of Delray Beach, Fla., the current leader in the SPEED GT Drivers’ Championship, extended his lead to 225-217 over Tommy Archer, who finished sixth Saturday. Stu Hayner, of Yorba Linda, Calif., finished fifth in his No. 5 GMAC Commercial Finance Pontiac GTO after starting 15th.
Sonny Whelen, of Old Saybrook, Conn., finished ninth in his No. 31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette C6 to wrap up the Winning Team Racing Apparel Rookie of the Year honors for SPEED GT.
Behind Pilgrim and Archer, Robin Liddell managed to finish 11th at Mosport, albeit several laps down, and held on to his third-place standing in the drivers’ point standings with 212. Henzler also finished, coming in 12th, to move his total to 203 and stay in fourth. On the strength of his fifth-place finish, Hayner moved ahead of Papis for fifth, 158-156.
With Fellows’ effort, Cadillac made a much needed move in the SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine. It now trails Porsche, who caught a break with Long’s finish, 57-54. Chevrolet is in third with 40 points, ahead of Dodge’s 33.
The SCCA SPEED GT Mosport race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 1 p.m. (EDT).
The season’s finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is set for Oct. 14-16.
For more information about this round or Round 11, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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