Dion von Moltke took advantage of APR Motorsport teammate Ian Baas's misfortune Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, grabbing the lead with seven minutes remaining and holding on for his second consecutive Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner victory.
Baas and pole-winning co-driver Josh Hurley led 66 of the opening 78 circuits on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit, when Baas suddenly began to slow with an electrical problem in the No. 171 Gunther VW Volkswagen GTI. Von Moltke quickly took command and led the final six laps, giving the team's No. 181 APR/BBS Volkswagen GTI shared by Mike Sweeney its second consecutive victory.
Randy Pobst and Christian Miller finished second in Compass360 Racing's No. 74 034 Motorsport/Skunk2 Honda Civic Si, 4.114 seconds back, while Miller extended his point lead with only four events remaining.
Kristian Skavnes and Andrew Aquilante took third in the No. 111 Subaru of America Subaru Legacy, and moved up to second in the standings, 24 points behind Miller (207-183). Skavnes was going for three straight victories at Mid-Ohio.
Fourth went to Will Turner and Paul Dalla Lana in the No. 95 Turner Motorsports BMW 328i. Andrew Carbonell and Rhett O'Doski came from a lap down to place fifth in the No. 146 Mazda/Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5.
Baas and Hurley finished 11th behind their winning teammates.
"It definitely was not easy," von Moltke said. "I was pushing every lap. I looked over about twice a lap and saw Randy coming. I was pushing very hard. What really helped us was we came here focused on two corners - the Carousel and the Key Hole. They are very similar corners, and we were able to get a good grip on the car there. If you can get a good run out of both of those corners, it's very hard to be overtaken."
After a slow start to the season, APR Motorsport learned a trick or two about setting up their Volkswagens three races ago at Lime Rock Park, and the team has been coming on strong ever since. The team put on a clinic throughout much of Sunday's race, before Baas' late-race misfortune.
Hurley captured his second pole of the season in Friday's qualifying, and led the opening 40 circuits before his pit stop. Sweeney then led two circuits before pitting. While Guy Cosmo, Chad Gilsinger and Charles Putnam had turns out front before their stops, the lead recycled back to Baas - who led 26 laps.
"We found something in the back end of the suspension that the car really, really likes midway through the event at Lime Rock," Sweeney said. "Last year we had a lot of power but couldn't seem to do anything with it. This year it seems people have caught up with the power, but we've finally got the Volkswagen handling really well. We made a few changes, and the car just woke up. We had our plan today, which was to run as close as we could but to save brakes a little."
The victory was also a homecoming event for APR Motorsport crew chief Jeff Mishtawy, who is from nearby Columbus, Ohio.
Sweeney and von Moltke averaged 83.039 mph. The race was slowed by three cautions for 12 laps. The only accident came early in the race, when Sam Schultz escaped injury after hitting the wall in Turn 1 in the No. 23 V-Pack Motorsport BMW Z4.
The KONI Challenge Grand Sport competitors raced on Saturday, with Ken Wilden and Dean Martin winning in the No. 59 RehagenRacingProducts.com Ford Mustang GT. Wilden extended his lead in the championship to 21 points over Bret Seafuse and James Gue (204-183), who finished second.
The next action for the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge will be July 18-19 at Barber Motorsports Park, with split races for the Grand Sport and Street Tuner classes.