DETROIT, Mich. (Aug. 31, 2008) – He may not have been driving Detroit muscle, but Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., drove his Porsche to the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT Championship Round Eight win at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., followed Pobst to the finish.
Starting from the pole position, Pobst handled the standing start without hesitation, launching his No. 1 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 into Turn One with the rest of the field behind him. The rest of the field minus Eric Olberz and his No. 29 911 Design Porsche 911 GT3 however, which remained motionless on the starting grid. The safety car was quickly dispatched and the first of three full-course yellows followed.
On the lap-four restart Pobst maintained his lead and even open up more than two seconds on second-place Pilgrim. Behind them, the battle was heating up for third, and Davis and the No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra was cranking up the pressure on Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and his No. 4 Centric Parts/Stoptech Porsche 911 GT3. As Davis pulled alongside Crescentini into Turn Eight, the two made contact which sent Crescentini’s Porsche into a slide which ended at the tire wall.
Crescentini would continue as Davis took over third place, but the bumper on Crescentini’s machine was soon flapping in the breeze and eventually fell off the car in Turn Two, forcing the second full-course yellow on lap eight.
Following a quick retrieval of the Porsche bumper, the race restarted once again on lap 11. Pobst continued to hold his lead as Pilgrim and Davis battled for second. Just as Pobst’s lead began approaching the one second mark, Joey Scarallo’s No. 06 Group A Wheels Pontiac GTO spun and made light contact with the wall in Turn Three. With Scarallo stuck facing the wall, the full-course caution came out for the third and final time on lap 15 of the 26-lap, 53.82-mile race.
On the lap-19 restart, Pobst’s lead went unchallenged as second-place Pilgrim had his hands full with Davis and teammate Michael McCann. Though it worked to Pobst’s advantage at first, the gap between he and Pilgrim began to close as the laps clicked by. On the final tour of the 14-turn, 2.07-mile course, Pilgrim pull alongside Pobst heading into Turn Eight, but was unable to make anything happen. Pobst crossed the finish line 0.505-second ahead of Pilgrim, taking his third win of the season.
“I knew Andy might have a shot at me in that corner and then there he was and I thought, ‘uh oh,’” Pobst said. “But it was not quite enough. It’s a long way to run around the outside.
“I thought we were doing a really good job in the beginning of the race, but I think the REWARDS weight (140lbs) really took its toll toward the end of the race. Because of the rear engine, we are putting more weight on the drive tires than any other car in the class. The Toyos are worked really hard on a Porsche.”
Pobst also set the fastest lap of the race on lap 15, a 1:31.858 (81.125 mph), only 0.001-second faster than Davis’ best lap of the race.
“Late in the race, I started running a more conservative program,” Pobst continued. “What looks like a nice point lead can turn to nothing. All it takes is one little problem. We found a little water hose problem in practice, and we were lucky to find it then. If it would have happened in the race, it would have been a totally different story.”
Pobst was quick to thank the K-PAX team for their part in the race win.
“The team is such a big reason for success,” Pobst said. “Motorsports is such a team sport. In the NFL, a quarterback can’t win a game all by himself. Forget about it. I don’t care how good he is. It’s the same way in racing.”
Though he started and finished second, Pilgrim had a busy race in the in the No. 8 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V, trying to reel in Pobst while defending his position from Davis.
“It was a really good race,” Pilgrim said. “Brandon was right there. If I made the slightest mistake he was right there.
“Randy was really strong at the beginning and I really had nothing for him. But as the race went on and we had the yellows, with every restart Randy seemed to be closer and closer and he was just dangling this carrot in front of me. I was convinced I was going to crash the car trying to catch him.”
Pilgrim knew Turn Eight was his only opportunity to take the race win.
“There was one section that he seemed to struggle with at the end of the back straightaway. I was really good into there and he seemed to be pushing really hard in there—something was going on. That was my only shot. I tried to get along the outside but I didn’t get far enough alongside. It was really a last-ditch effort on my part, but it was a good race.”
Though a win would have been ideal in front of Detroit’s General Motors fans, Pilgrim was happy he could put the Cadillac on the podium.
“Being in Detroit means a lot for Cadillac,” he said. “I would have liked to be number one today, but it really is great to be back up on the podium and we’re the number one Detroit Iron today. It really is Dodge, Ford and GM here in Detroit and we were the number one Detroit product and that means a lot to Cadillac. The General Manager of Cadillac Jim Taylor was here today and it’s a big deal for us.”
Coming off of two DNFs, a third-place finish was a welcomed result for Davis, especially in front of Detroit’s Ford fans.
“The car was very good early,” Davis said. “I was able to get by McCann on the start. I feel terrible about what happened with Dino [Crescentini].
“Two laps in a row, I stuck my nose down in there and I got the impression that maybe he didn’t see me. The third time, I got alongside and I was going to keep it there. I got into him and it spun him around. Not the way I wanted to take the position, but it was just a racing deal.
“I didn’t seem to have the tires at the end of the race that Randy and Andy did, but we’re happy to be back on the podium as opposed to where we were the last two races.”
Pobst now leads Pilgrim by 116 points (827 to 711) in the Drivers’ Championship, followed by Michael Galati with 621 points, Davis, with 611 points and James Sofronas, with 558 points.
Pilgrim’s teammate McCann, of Canton, Ohio, finished a season-high fourth in the No. 8 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V. He was followed by Pobst’s teammate, Galati, from Olmsted, Ohio, in the No. 23 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3.
James Sofronas (Porsche 911 GT3) and Jason Daskalos (Dodge Viper) each picked up three positions during the race to finish seventh and eighth, respectively.
Driving the No. 2 Mopar/Corsa/Forgeline/Momo Dodge Viper, Cindi Lux, of Aloha, Ore., finished eighth. Lux earned both the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award for advancing four positions on the opening lap, and the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing four positions during the race.
Crescentini and former Trans-Am Champion Brian Simo (Dodge Viper) completed the top 10.
Porsche continues to lead the SCCA SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER with 53 points. Cadillac now moves into second, with 39 points, followed by Dodge (36), Ford (33) and Chevrolet (21).
Round Eight of the SCCA SPEED GT Championship will air on SPEED, Sept. 12, at noon (EDT).
Round Nine heads to New Jersey Motorsports Park, Sept. 26 – 28. To learn more visit www.world-challenge.com.