SONOMA, Calif. (July 18, 2004) – One day after equaling polesitter Phil McClure’s top qualifying time, rookie SCCA SPEED GT driver German Wolf Henzler was hungry to capture his first career SPEED GT win. Henzler, who started on the outside of row one, took the lead on lap one heading into turn three and never looked back, capturing Round Four of the SPEED GT Championship at Infineon Raceway. McClure finished a close second and Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., finished third.
Driving the No. 17 Infineon/Farnbacher Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on a cool and sunny morning at Infineon, Henzler grabbed the early lead on lap one from polesitter McClure (both had the exact same qualifying time of 1:40.444, but McClure started from the pole because he set the time first) and held on for his first-career SPEED GT.
“I had a good start because I am used to the standing start,” Henzler said of his start. “I think it is an advantage for me. [On the first lap] In the second corner we [McClure] touched each other, but I think it was fair. And, after the second corner, I was in front and stayed there. He drove very hard and very fast. Every corner, I had to watch my mirrors because sometimes he was very close. It was a hard race for me to keep him behind me. He tried several times to overtake [me], but I stayed in front.”
Henzler won his first SPEED GT race, in his first attempt, by a margin of 0.513-second on the 2.53-mile circuit. The last SPEED GT driver to win a race in his first attempt was Mike Fitzgerald in 2000 at Texas World Speedway in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Henzler also won the Remus Power Move of the Race for his pass on McClure for the lead.
Piloting the No. 73 Aggregate Industries/3-R Racing Corvette ZO6, McClure, of Floris, Iowa, spent the entire race filling Henzler’s mirrors as he never trailed by more than 0.8-second throughout the 25-lap race. However, on the last lap heading into the last turn , McClure tried to stick the nose of his ZO6 to the inside of Henzler, but couldn’t get far enough in to overtake him. McClure’s second place finish put him on the podium for the first time in 2004.
“It was fun,” McClure said of his race with Henzler. “That was a great race. We were side-by-side going down into three and he was slightly ahead of me. If I would have kept my position, I would have turned him around. So, I figured, ‘Well, we have a good car and we’ll run him down toward the end.’
“That was the only place I thought I had a real shot of getting around him,” McClure added about his last ditch effort to catch Henzler in turn 11. “I could catch him in the [turn] nine and 10 combination. But, I just couldn’t quite keep my foot on the floor coming out of 10. Had I been able to do that, I probably could have gotten alongside him. But, I wasn’t far enough in on him. I would have turned him around and I don’t like being raced that way, so I don’t race that way. It was still a fun race.”
Archer got a great start in his No. 22 3R-Racing/c3controls Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, quickly moving from fifth on the grid to third by the first turn and never looked back.
“We went from fifth to almost the lead by turn two,” Archer said of his start. “If the Porsche [Henzler] and the Corvette [McClure] wouldn’t have come together on me, I probably could’ve gotten the lead. We got a great holeshot. We weren’t as fast as the guys behind me, I don’t think. We were able to stretch out, but it was because the Audi [Michael Galati] passed them. And, while the Audi held them up, I took my time and saved my tires because I knew there were going to be some cautions. When the caution came out, Leighton [Reese] got by the Audi, I knew it was time for me to start picking up the pace. It was a good thing I did because the last two laps the right rear tire was gone.
“They [Henzler and McClure] had way too much for the Viper. I couldn’t keep up with the leaders.”
Archer made his first trip to the World Challenge podium since 1991, when he won the Super Production race at Saltillo, Mexico in an Eagle Talon.
Andy Pilgrim, of Delray Beach, Fla., drove the No. 8 Cadillac/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V to a solid fourth place performance, while Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn., was fifth in his No. 6 Banner Engineering Corvette Z06.
Mark Anderson, of Anaheim, Calif., won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award for advancing 10 positions throughout the race. Anderson started 20th and finished 10th.
Galati leads in the SPEED GT Drivers’ Championship with 102 points, followed by Archer (95), Pilgrim (92), Angelelli (84) and Pobst (82).
Audi leads the SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine with 23 points, followed by Cadillac (22), Dodge (14) and Chevrolet (12).
The SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT Championship next visits Portland International Raceway July 23-25 for Round Five, as part of the American Le Mans Grand Prix of Portland.
For more information, visit www.world-challenge.com.
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=91