Skavnes and Hemmingson Brings Subaru Its First KONI Challenge Series Win in ST Race at Lime Rock Park LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 27, 2007) -- With his ICY/Phoenix Racing No. 111 Subaru Legacy crew members predicting a victory, Kristian ...
Skavnes and Hemmingson Brings Subaru Its First KONI Challenge Series Win in ST Race at Lime Rock Park
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 27, 2007) -- With his ICY/Phoenix Racing No. 111 Subaru Legacy crew members predicting a victory, Kristian Skavnes scored just that in Saturday's Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Street Tuner (ST) race at Lime Rock Park. Skavnes dove to the inside of Ken Dobson in Turn 1 with less than 20 minutes remaining in the two-and-a-half hour, 132-lap race and never looked back en route to the first career series victory for himself and co-driver Chuck Hemmingson.
Taking over for Hemmingson--who had the car in fifth place when he turned it over on Lap 41 of the 132-lap race--Skavnes emerged from pit lane in the top 10. He was in the lead 18 laps later before pitting on Lap 75, and regained the lead again on Lap 113. From there, he stretched his lead to 6.076 seconds over Dobson by the checkered flag.
"Ultimately, Paul Hacker got me to the front here," said Skavnes, who ultimately led three times for 25 laps. "He was my original instructor here at Lime Rock when I first got my license. He taught me the fast line around here, and since then, I've always done well here. I consider this my home track. It's been a year. We've been working really hard on these cars and it finally came together for us."
Within 15 laps, Skavnes had moved the car's way back into the top five. Then, he took third from Carlos Garcia on Lap 59 and was second the next lap past Toby Grahovec the following lap. With only Andrew Aquilante ahead, Skavnes shortened the two-second gap quickly and dogged him until Lap 69, when he charged to the front for the first of the three times.
But just as quickly, the lead was gone, when Aquilante--who led a race-high 36 laps in the No. 24 V-Pack Motorsport BMW 330i--retook the lead at the entrance of Turn 1. The see-saw battle continued the succeeding lap, when Skavnes led Aquilante and Grahovec's No. 86 Classic BMW-Plano BMW Z4 in a three-car train, which was pulling away.
The team's strategy, however, forced them to bring the car back in on Lap 75, when Skavnes fell out of the top five once again. However, several other teams hadn't made their second pit stop even by Lap 100, allowing Skavnes to get back into the top five, although he made most of his passes on the track.
When others pitted, Skavnes gained position and he had closed an already shortened gap on Lap 107 when the final caution period of three came out, as Derrick Reade hit the barrier in the No. 13 SDS Performance Racing Dodge SRT4. Skavnes--already third--then watched as No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i driver Trevor Hopwood pitted, and when the green flag dropped, he dove to the inside of Dobson to take the lead and the win.
"It was really nice to have it come together here," Skavnes said. "My wife is up here. My dad, he's ill, and he's raced here a lot. He still owns the Showroom Stock record here in ASSA, which doesn't exist anymore. For me, it was a real special win."
Hemmingson kept the car near the front during his stint. He was third after the first lap and stayed in the top five for most of his stint. While Aquilante stood on the gas early and led Adam Burrows--Hopwood's co-driver--and No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Scada Pack Chevrolet Cobalt driver Jamie Holtom, Hemmingson fell back, keeping a distance of nearly 10 seconds when he got out of the car running fifth.
"It's really big for Subaru," Hemmingson said. "We're a team that just got started a year ago and we ran three races last year. This is our third this year and we really worked hard and tested. The car is awesome. It's all-wheel drive, and it handles beautifully. It keeps its balance for the whole run. It was bound to come someday, but we got it pretty quickly in our KONI Challenge career, doing it on our sixth try, I think. We're just tickled to death. We owe it to the great car and the crew that puts it together. We've got everything we need."
No. 144 Davis Motorsports Acura RSX-S co-drivers Dobson and Bob Endicott also ran near the front of the field all day, with Dobson leading five laps. Endicott jumped into fifth on the second lap and pitted on Lap 40, handing the car over to Dobson, who made his way into the top five by Lap 81. Dobson was more than 19 seconds behind Hopwood when the yellow flew on Lap 107, but when Hopwood pitted and had to serve a 15-second penalty for an earlier during a pit lane violation, Dobson claimed the lead.
"Getting on the podium for the Davis Motorsports team was the only goal we had here this weekend," Dobson said. "We had taken a beating in the second and third races of the season and we skipped the fourth just to regroup and bring the best weapon we could out here. The guys worked tirelessly to get it here and it was perfect. Without those guys working in the shop, we wouldn't be here right now. This place is so small, it's a bullring basically, and there's a lot of door-handle to door-handle driving here. I mean, on my car, neither door opens up and the wheel's about ready to fall off the thing. It just has some major battle scars from here, and that's the kind of racing it is."
"We had a pretty good strategy, which was to save the car as much as we could," Endicott added. "We pitted early, taking a chance that there would be more yellows and there were, but we were still really running on fumes at the end of that race. Ken did a great job. I kept telling him, 'Go fast, but don't use any fuel.' He didn't like hearing that. I've only raced at this track maybe three other times and I've never had good luck here. It's the first time I've really done well. It's really a driver's track. You'll see the faster cars pulling away on other tracks, (but) not here. This track is a driver's track, so to do well here makes me feel good about how I drive."
With one of the more quiet runs on the day, Bill Fenton Motorsports No. 27 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S co-drivers Todd Lamb and David Thilenius grabbed the final podium spot on the day with a third-place performance.
Thilenius ran in the top 10 during his stint before, like many others, handing the wheel over to his co-driver on Lap 41. Lamb took over and was also a solid top-10 performer before late pit stops vaulted him into the top five on Lap 109. Lamb also accepted third when No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Acura TSX driver Roger Foo pulled off the course on the main straightaway on Lap 113, and stayed put from that point forward, taking the checkered flag 6.635 seconds behind Skavnes and only a half second behind Dobson.
"It feels great," Lamb said. "It's our first podium together and it's great to be here at Lime Rock for the first time and end up on the podium. It's an awesome facility. The KONI Challenge Series is a great series to be in with great drivers and great competition. We had a lot of fun and I've got to thank my co-driver."
"The car had a lot of understeer earlier in the race, and I was just struggling and trying to keep it in good position," Thilenius contributed. "We had some car-to-car contact and I had a big save in the last corner and that got exciting for the crew, but we managed to keep it on the track and keep it pointed. I turned it over to Todd and the crew did a great stop. He drove fantastic. To come from 17th to the podium is fantastic. I'm just stoked to run with Todd."
Grahovec and Pierre Kleinubing ended the day fourth in the No. 86 BMW. Grahovec led seven laps and was one of the last leaders to pit. He accepted the point on Lap 76 when Aquilante pitted, and led until he pitted on Lap 83 for his scheduled stop, handing the car over to Kleinubing. The Brazilian was nearly lapped before the yellow came out, allowing him to catch the leaders by the race's end.
No. 126 Fountain Motorsports BMW 330i co-drivers Sam Schultz and Seth Thomas ran as high as third in their car near the end before making the car's second pit stop. Thomas brought the car back out in seventh and picked up two positions before the checkered flag flew to complete the top five.
Hopwood and Burrows--who led the first 34 laps during his stint after starting from the pole position--fell to seventh during the final pit stop and penalty and were credited with 10th at the checkered flag. However, the duo reclaimed the ST points lead from No. 76 Kensai Racing/Compass360.com Acura TSX teammates Billy Johnson and Karl Thomson, who were relegated to a 21st-place result due to early-race damage.
Burrows and Hopwood now lead Thomson and Johnson by four points (132-128) heading into the next race, June 16-17, at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.