GSM Motorsports goes from crash to cash in Daytona debut for the new Volkswagen GTI
Daytona, FL (Jan 29, 2007) GSM Motorsports has successfully completed its KONI Challenge debut in the "Fresh From Florida 200" at Daytona International Speedway. The team's brand new Volkswagen GTI finished respectfully, even running as high as first in class, even though a major accident nearly sidelined them for the entire event.
Thursday's first practice session was held in cold, damp conditions. Disaster struck when after only a few laps driver Tony Nuzzo received an 'assist' off the slick course sending the brand new GTI into the infield tire barrier at a very high rate of speed. The right side of the Volkswagen GTI was badly damaged and Tony's right hand was broken putting him out of commission for the duration of the event. However the GSM Motorsports' crew worked tirelessly for the entire day and much of the following morning to repair extensive body damage and some minor suspension damage. While the two subsequent practice and qualifying sessions were missed as a result, the team kept working until the GTI was safe, sorted and ready for Friday's final practice session.
The pre-race practice session brought blue skies and warmer temperatures. Driver Andrew Lewis set off to determine whether all the hard work had paid off. Initially the car performed well but as Andrew began to pick up the pace, the car picked up a heavy push. Despite this, team spirits began to rise as it was now clear that the car would be able to start it's first race.
Due to missing qualifying the Volkswagen GTI would have to start the race almost from the back of the over one hundred car field. When the green flag flew, Andrew Lewis and Danny Alvis drove a steady and fast paced race in the GTI bringing the car up through a very competitive field eventually leading the ST class for 9 laps. Towards the end of the race, the VW GTI had settled into a respectable top 15 position however a blocked pit box and a faulty fuel pickup eventually conspired against the team relegating them to 21st out of 45 cars in class.
GSM Motorsports Team Owner Jon Lewis: "We're very happy with the outcome given that we had such a serious setback early on. It just shows the professionalism of my crew and the whole team. While we may be new to Grand-Am racing, this team has considerable experience in preparing and racing cars in true long distance endurance races. That 'never say die' attitude and experience really showed this week. I couldn't be prouder of my guys."
"Daytona was really just another test session for us", said Technical Director, Bill Sulouff. "It was the first time we were able to give the car a long hard run and I was truly impressed. This car has far less development than many in the series and it shows how good the new GTI is right out of the box. I'm now looking forward to some much needed testing and development time."
The new car's Daytona performance has shown that the GSM Motorsports Volkswagen GTI has real potential to be a class winner. There is still more work to be done to improve speed and racecraft, but the GSM/Bildon team is now optimistically looking forward to the remainder of the season.
GSM Motorsports' next KONI Challenge event will be at Homestead-Miami Speedway April 13-15.