Johnson and Ludwig score their second straight podium of the season. Millville, NJ (May 5, 2009) -- After a bittersweet victory at Homestead-Miami, co-drivers Billy Johnson and Peter Ludwig came back strong in New Jersey to finish yet again on...
Johnson and Ludwig score their second straight podium of the season.
Millville, NJ (May 5, 2009) -- After a bittersweet victory at Homestead-Miami, co-drivers Billy Johnson and Peter Ludwig came back strong in New Jersey to finish yet again on the podium.
With a lack of funding impairing the ability to rebuild the car, a last minute effort resulted in the sponsorship needed to make the third round of the 2009 Koni Challenge championship at New Jersey Motorsports Park. After missing the Thursday promoter test day and barely making the entry list, the No. 18 Motorsport Technology Group Porsche 997, now sponsored by Deitz & Watson Premium Meats and Cheeses had their work cut out for them.
With support from Bavaro Racing Engines, the team had the car back together and ready for the Friday practice sessions. With little time to break in the motor and set up the car before qualifying, the MTG team had the car dialed in for Ludwig who qualified a respectable 8th place despite an off-road excursion from a BMW ruining a chance at the front row.
An early race hit forced the No. 18 into the pits to replace a broken wheel. Ludwig re-entered the track with only a 10 second lead over the race leader and turned some quick laps to stay ahead and avoid going a lap down. The MTG crew called a great pit strategy and Johnson took over the controls in the middle of the pack.
While moving back through the field, Johnson had a hard-charging Bill Auberlen nipping at his heels in one of the most entertaining battles of the race. Unfortunately a late race hit put both the BMW and 997 out of contention and allowed the No. 97 BMW of Joey Hand to slip by. With damage to the alignment, Johnson couldn't track down Joey but held on to a 3rd place podium finish.
"I can't say enough about Motorsport Technology Group" said Johnson. "For being behind the 8-ball all weekend and having bad luck early in the race, they did an amazing job and had the strategy to get the car back up front. I would also like to thank our sponsor Dietz & Watson for making this weekend possible."
"I"m very proud of the entire team, they worked hard to get the car ready for Peter and Billy" said team owner Steve Marcus. "Both drivers fought the entire race as it seemed that we had a bulls-eye on us. Peter staying on the lead lap after suffering wheel damage and Billy running the last 20 minutes with 3 damaged wheels. This is one race I will never forget."
The race will be aired on SPEED May 9th at 12:00pm EST. Johnson will be back in the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge in two weeks at his home track on May 16. Both he and Ludwig won their respective classes the last time the series raced at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2007 and look to see the podium for a third straight time.