CANADA (July 8, 2007) – Starting from pole, Randy Pobst, of Gainsville, Ga., led from start to finish on the wet streets of Exhibition Place to take his second-consecutive series win in Round Six of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship, part of the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto. Local hero Ron Fellows, of Mississauga, Ont., and Michael Galati, of Olmstead, Ohio, completed the podium.
As the SCCA SPEED GT cars arrived on the grid with dry tires, the skies opened up and began to rain on the 1.755-mile, 11-turn temporary street course. Starting from the pole position, Pobst rocketed away from the grid in his No. 22 K-PAX Racing LLC/Jim Haughey Porsche 911 GT-3 and maintained the lead through a slick Turn One. From there, Pobst worked with his K-PAX teammate Galati to open up a gap on Fellows in the opening laps of the race.
The gap proved useful for Galati, who spun in the slippery conditions on lap six in Turn Six, but managed to stay ahead of Fellows. The No. 23 K-PAX Racing LLC/3-R Porsche 911 GT3 pilot wasn’t so lucky when he made contact with the No. 17 LTI Contracting/Foster Motorsports Dodge Viper of Rob Foster and spun, which allowed Fellows to get by and take the second spot.
The only full-course yellow of the race came on Lap 26 when the No. 3 NayKid Racing Dodge Viper of Scotty B. White made contact with the wall exiting Turn 11, and came to a stop on the front straight.
When the green and white flags came out on the lap-30 restart, a lapped car between Pobst and Fellows allowed the Porsche driver to make his final tour of the circuit unchallenged and cruise to his second SCCA SPEED GT victory in-a-row by 3.495 seconds, averaging 68.785 mph in the 31-lap, 54.405-mile race.
“That race was nowhere near easy, because the conditions were constantly changing,” Pobst said. “It might have looked easy, because there’s a trick I learned a long time ago in autocrossing, and that’s the fastest way through a slow corner is to go slow. Boy did you have to go through some of these corners slow here in Toronto. I had an advantage, because I had run the Touring Car race just before this and it was wet, so I had a good feel for where there was traction and where there wasn’t, but I did get in trouble a couple of times by myself.
“I was pushing that car as hard as I could the whole time and I knew Ron was back there and catching me for awhile. As the track was starting to dry, our Porsches had a totally dry set up, and they just came in. I think the traction was the best it had been all weekend once the track dried. This track is well-suited to the Porsche, which is light and agile, and with these conditions I was just very careful.”
With the win, Pobst took over the SCCA SPEED GT Championship lead, 180 to 171, over Andy Pilgrim. Lawson Aschenbach sits third with 155 points. Pobst is also the current leader in the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Championship.
“It’s a long season and we just take it one corner at a time,” Pobst said. “I’m very pleased to be with teams that are so good that I could get to this point at all. We’ve seen it happen earlier this season, when Eric Curran won two glorious races and then lady luck turned on him. We know that can happen to at any moment, so we’re just going to take things one step at a time.”
It was the first podium of the season for Fellows, driver of the No. 16 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V, who was feeling under the weather the whole weekend.
“It was a good result for Team Cadillac,” Fellows said. “We just didn’t have anything for Randy. At the start of the race, a dry line started to form, but then the rain came again and the track got pretty slippery, particularly in Turns One and Three. Then when a dry line started to redevelop we just weren’t fast enough, but we’ll take second and help Cadillac in the Manufacturers’ Championship. We’ll do a little more homework work with the boys and be ready for when I get back in again at Mosport.”
Cadillac currently leads the SCCA SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championshipp Presented by RACER, with 40 points. Porsche sits second, with 34 points, followed by Chevrolet, with 31, and Dodge with 18.
After his contact with Foster’s Viper, Galati had another close call and brushed the wall exiting Turn 11. The hit caused further damage to his already ailing Porsche, but Galati was able to bring the car home in third.
“The race was really unbelievable,” Galati said. “Early on the car was slipping and sliding. I could see Randy ahead of me and he would pull a gap, but then I would catch up. But then I got into Turn Six and the car went sideways. I thought it was going to go into the wall and I stalled it and everyone went by me, but I restarted and started chasing back through the field again.
“Then, I was going through one of the lefts next to a Viper. He didn’t see me I guess and took my nose off, so I spun again and it took me awhile to restart it. I got back going and the next lap I get to the back straight and I had no downforce because the splitter came apart and I brushed the wall. I couldn’t believe I finished third!”
Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., finished the weekend even, starting and finishing the race in fourth, at the wheel of his No. 8 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V. Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., moved to fifth after a last lap battle with the No. 1 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V of Lawson Aschenbach, from West Palm Beach, Fla. The defending SCCA SPEED GT Champion started the race from pitlane after making the decision to switch to wet tires and would go on to finish sixth.
Through a pit stop and two stop-and-go penalties, the No. 30 Whelen Engineering Corvette of Eric Curran, from East Hampton, Mass., was able to finish the race in seventh. Curran was first called into pit lane for contact with Aschenbach on lap 20, but crossed the blend line on his return to the track and was subsequently called back into the pits. At the conclusion of the race Curran was awarded the B&M Oil Coolers Coolest Move of the Race a pass made on Pilgrim while charging through the field from an opening-lap spin.
Teammates Doug Peterson (Chevrolet Corvette) and Lou Gigliotti finished eighth and ninth respectively, with Gigliotti taking the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing 11 positions during the race in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers Chevrolet Corvette.
James Sofronas overcame and early-race spin to finish tenth and also collect the Toyo Tires Cup award in his No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3.
Round Six of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship at the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto will air Saturday, July 14, at 12 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED.
The SCCA SPEED GT cars next head to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio for the Acura Sports Car Challenge, July 21-22.
For all the latest SCCA SPEED World Challenge results and news, visit www.world-challenge.com