WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 9, 2007) – Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., captured his first SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car win of the season Saturday as part of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen weekend at Watkins Glen International. Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., and Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., completed the top three.
Pobst led every tour in the 20-lap, 68-mile event in his No. 73 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda 6 from the pole, but it looked like he would have multiple challenges early.
On the standing start, front row mate James Sofronas got his No. 29 Global Motorsports Group/Tecmark BMW 325Ci alongside with Pobst through turn one and the flat-out Esses. As the pack made its way to the inner loop chicane, Sofronas had company, with Kleinubing and Kuno Wittmer’s Acuras tucked in behind. However, Pobst had the inside line going into the right hand entry of the chicane and took the point.
From there, Pobst never lost the lead, holding serve on the lap 16 restart and taking the 1.149-second win, averaging 89.913 mph.
“This weekend is a helluva comeback for me personally because I made some mistakes in my choices of setup at Lime Rock,” Pobst said of his 11th place finish two weeks ago. “Craig Nagler took us back to the fundamentals. We straightened the car out and boy, it worked out great here at Watkins Glen.”
After Pobst established the lead in the Inner Loop on the first lap, Sofronas slipped off course before getting through the bus stop complex and allowed Kleinubing (No. 1 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Acura TSX), Espenlaub (No. 97 Mazdaspeed/Tindol/Oakley/Sparco Mazda 6) and Wittmer (No. 44 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Acura RSX) past.
Kleinubing watched Pobst slowly pull away to a nearly 3.5-second advantage before knocking it down to just under two before a caution period to move the disabled cars of Wittmer and Payton Wilson. On the restart, Kleinubing stayed in contact as the two re-set their personal fast laps, but he was unable to make a bid for the lead.
“That’s how it was all day, I just played follow the leader,” Kleinubing said. “I was never able to get close enough to even get a draft from him. I would get closer in the chicane, but that was it. I didn’t have anything for him [Pobst] today.”
Espenlaub returned to the podium for the first time since September 2006 at Mosport.
“Actually, our race went really well,” Espenlaub said. “At Tindol Motorsports, we’ve been chasing the right setup trying to keep up with the blue boys [Tri-Point Motorsport]. We made the car better for qualifying this morning. Then, we made another big change and obviously the car got much better in the race. I had a great start following these guys [Pobst and Kleinubing] through the Esses. It was fun watching these guys battle.”
While the top three remained unchanged in the final five laps after the restart, fourth through 15th became a dogfight. Jason Martinelli went from ninth to fourth on the restart, a move that would later draw a stop-and-go penalty for advancing prior to the green flag. Michael Galati, who started eighth in his No. 95 Mazda North America/Tindol Mazda 6, moved clear of Martinelli on lap 16 to hold fourth
Jeff Altenburg, who started ninth in his No. 72 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda 6, moved to fifth on lap 17. Sofronas, Peter Cunningham (Acura TSX), James Clay (BMW 325i), Chip Herr (Audi A4), Stan Wilson (Dodge SRT-4), Rob Holland (Dodge SRT-4) and Roberto Santos (Mazda 6) battled behind.
After Santos spun and collected Clay in the outer loop, the order settled, with Sofronas, Cunningham, Wilson, Holland and Herr completing the top 10.
Sofronas captured his third-straight Toyo Tires Cup with his sixth place finish.
Wilson captured two honors in his No. 92 Sorted Performance Dodge SRT-4—the Piloti Rookie of the Race award and the Sunoco Hard Charger award for advancing 11 positions, from 19th to eighth.
Wilson earned the B&M Holeshot Award in his No. 6 King Rat Motorsports Dodge SRT-4, advancing four positions on the opening lap.
Altenburg maintained his drivers’ championship point lead, but Pobst reduced it to seven, 138 to 132. Kleinubing is third, with 110, followed by Herr and Sofronas, tied at 91.
Mazda increased its point lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine. It now has 35 points to Acura’s 19, Audi’s 12 and BMW’s 10.
Today’s race will air on SPEED Saturday, June 30 at 2 p.m. (EDT).
The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car Championship will complete its Watkins Glen doubleheader Sunday at 11:45 a.m. (EDT).
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=824