Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Point Leaders Face Challenging Trois-RiviÃ¨res Circuit Still Vying For First Wins DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2007) -- Grand-Am's KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) championship points...
Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Point Leaders Face Challenging Trois-Rivières Circuit Still Vying For First Wins
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2007) -- Grand-Am's KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) championship points leaders have all found ways to sit atop the standings without tasting victory during the 2007 season, but hope those initial wins come this weekend in the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in Quebec, the 10th of 12 rounds for both divisions.
Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal (GS) and Trevor Hopwood and Adam Burrows (ST) lead strong KONI fields to the second of two Canadian races for the series. With three races to go, the leaders know they must remain consistent in order to take the championship, but that a victory would go a long way in solidifying that title.
Thornton and Segal -- in one of four Automatic Racing BMW M3s -- have run strong all season. Eight of their nine starts have resulted in top 10 finishes, including a season-best second last month at Watkins Glen International. They stole the championship lead from Joe Foster after the Supercuts 200 at The Glen, and retain a 30-point lead (243-213) over Foster heading to Trois-Rivières. They are entered in the No. 09 Automatic Racing Fresh >From Florida/Imported Car Store/Engine Studios BMW M3.
Foster and Toronto driver Scott Maxwell hoisted the winner's trophy in June at Mosport International Raceway -- the only other Canadian circuit to host a KONI race this season -- but their No. 55 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT has yet to match that success again. Three straight finishes outside the top 10 have dropped Foster to third in the championship as the season draws to a close. Meanwhile, Maxwell sits sixth in points after sitting out the race at Iowa Speedway in April. The pair's teammates include Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey and Rick Skelton in the No. 54 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT.
Bret Seafuse and James Gue are tied for fourth after taking their No. 37 JBS Motorsports Trumansburg ShurSave to seventh at Barber, and are still mathematically alive to win the championship. The pair scored back-to-back fourth-place finishes at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Iowa Speedway, a season-best result for the duo. Neither driver raced at Trois-Rivières last season. Their JBS teammates are Mark Ackley and Todd Snyder in the No. 137 JBS Motorsports ACKCO Inc. Consulting Group BMW M3.
Craig Stanton sits seventh in points, and will team with Hugh Plumb to drive the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997 this weekend. The pair combined to post four straight top 10s, including a season-best fifth at Mosport. The other BGB Motorsports Porsche 997, the No. 83, will be piloted by Tim Traver and Mikel Miller.
Thornton and Segal aren't the only Automatic Racing drivers in the top 10. Standing tied for eighth are Tom Long and David Russell, who share the No. 99 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Engine Studios/Land Air BMW M3. The duo matched their season best fifth-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park, jumping into the top 10 for the first time this season. Other Automatic Racing entries include Jon Miller and Serge Glazunov Jr. in the No. 90 Automatic Racing Fresh From Florida/Land Air/Rouge Engineering BMW M3 and Tim George Jr. and Conrad Grunewald in the No. 91 Fresh From Florida/Gleukos Sports Drink/Rouge Engineering BMW3.
Tom Nastasi rounds out the top 10 in GS driver points after opening the season with three straight victories. Driving the No. 5 Blackforest Motorsports USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT, Nastasi was also on the podium in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve GT race earlier this month at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. David Empringham, another Canadian and former GS champion, will join him. The duo's team car, the No. 4 Blackforest Motorsports USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT, with be occupied by Canadian Travis Walker and Chicago driver Romeo Kapudja.
Automatic Racing, Blackforest Motorsports, JBS Motorsports, Hyper Sport and BGB Motorsports are not the only multiple-car teams entered this weekend. TRG, which fielded the winning No. 41 Carlsen Porsche/Mitchell Global Porsche 997 for Andy Lally and Ted Ballou at Barber Motorsports Park, has four cars entered. Lally and Ballou return to the No. 41 seeking their second straight win, while Duncan Ende and Grant Maiman (No. 39 TRG Carlsen Porsche/DigiTrust Group/Adam's Polishes Porsche 997) and John Bibbo and Scott Schroeder (No. 40 Carlsen Porsche/CDI/Carrera Designs Porsche 997) look for their first triumph. Team owner Kevin Buckler's No. 42 TRG Carlsen Porsche 997 is also entered.
Rehagen Racing, which won the seventh round on the 12-race schedule at Mid-Ohio with Dean Martin and Ken Wilden, also has four cars entered for Trois-Rivières. Martin, in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Roush Performance Products Ford Mustang GT, will co-drive with Jack Roush, while Wilden is entered in the No. 52 Rehagen Racing Piloti Ford Mustang GT with Mike Canney. Jim Click and Mike McGovern will share the No. 150 Rehagen Racing Jim Click Ford Mustang GT, while Ray Mason and Jamie Slone are entered in the No. 154 Rehagen Racing Jim Click Ford Mustang GT.
Defending ST champions Don Salama and Will Turner earned their first GS podium of 2007 at Barber. The pair has finished in the top five in each of the last two Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, including a runner-up finish two seasons ago. They'll drive the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, identical to the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 of Bill Auberlen and Chris Gleason, who combined to win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
While Limoges is one of the top French Canadians entered, she is not the only one local fans will connect with during the weekend. Among the favorites for this weekend will be Trois-Rivières natives and brothers Jean-Francois and Louis-Philippe Dumoulin. Both drivers will share the No. 82 BRG/Group 88 Motorsports tecno.metal Inc./Jordinehenderson Group Porsche 997 with Toronto native Michael Vong. Jean-Francois Dumoulin is a two-time KONI Challenge champion, and teamed with Dave Riddle in the No. 25 Fiorano/C-MAX Racing Denon Porsche 997 to win the Supercuts 200 at The Glen. This weekend, Riddle is paired with Kris Wilson.
Other Canadians entered are Fraser Wellon of Mississauga, Ontario, who will drive the No. 88 Ranger Sports Racing Hop-A-Jet Worldwide Jet Charter Porsche 996 with Barry Ellis, and Frank Rossi in the No. 89 Ranger Sports Racing Hop-A-Jet Worldwide Jet Charter Porsche 997, shared with Ellis and Marcelo Abello.
Spencer Pumpelly, who finished third at Trois-Rivières last season, won at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca earlier this year, and will pair with John Mayes this weekend in the No. 49 Marcus Motorsports MAH 720 Property Management/Auriemma Consulting Group Porsche 997. Shawn Price and Nic Jonsson will team to drive the No. 79 Kinetic Motorsports Said Head Performance Savvion BMW M3 after missing the recent round at Barber.
The ST points battle has been nothing short of a seesaw battle, with two teams of co-drivers hoping victories will translate in a championship opportunity. No. 76 Kensai Racing Compass360.com/Hawk Brakes/Skunk2 Acura RSX-R co-drivers Billy Johnson and team owner Karl Thomson own a series-high four victories, but sit second in points after finishing seventh at Barber. They trail Burrows and Hopwood by six points (230-224).
Burrows and Hopwood have finished second three times, including the season's only other Canadian race -- at Mosport International Raceway -- where Hopwood lost the lead to Johnson on the final lap. The duo regained the lead at Barber, and look to put their No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i into victory lane for the first time at Trois-Rivières.
SpeedSource team owner Sylvain Tremblay, a Montreal native, will field the No. 69 SpeedSource Mondial Forwarding Mazda RX-8 for co-drivers David Haskell and Jose Armengol. Haskell and Tremblay teamed to win the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in 2005, the same season Haskell edged Tremblay to the ST title by two points. Haskell and Armengol finished a season-high second at Mid-Ohio in June. Armengol is fifth in ST points, only 18 behind Burrows and Hopwood.
Iowa Speedway winner Guy Cosmo is sixth in points, only 32 out of the lead, and has eight straight top-10 finishes. He will drive the No. 127 Fountain Motorsports Ironclad/Hawk Brakes BMW 330i with Matt Plumb, who also co-drove to second last season at Trois-Rivières. Sam Schultz, who is 10th in the championship standings, will drive the No. 126 Fountain Motorsports Trackmasters/Hawk Brakes BMW 330i with Seth Thomas. Schultz has four top 10s this season.
Sandwiched in between Cosmo and Schultz are three drivers also looking to move up in the championship. Seventh-place Nick Wittmer of Hudson will join eighth-place Glenn Bocchino in the No. 31 i-MOTO Racing Acura/Cobalt Friction/Alpinestar Acura TSX. The duo has secured top 10s in each of the last four races. Bocchino is also scheduled to drive the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Acura/Cobalt Friction/Alpinestar Acura TSX with Nick's brother Kumo, also of Hudson, who in addition is listed in the No. 53 Predator Auto Sport Auto Tech Chevrolet Cobalt with Embrun, Ontario native Tyler Givogue.
Ninth-place driver Christian Miller, who owns a season-best third at Laguna Seca, will drive the No. 56 BSI Racing MOMO/Joe Gibbs Mazda MX-5 with Todd Buras. Teammates Justin Hall and Magnus Karlsson will drive the No. 58 BSI Racing MOMO/Joe Gibbs/JustRacing.com Mazda MX-5.
Several other French Canadians will also be on hand to try for the ST victory in their home province. Trois-Rivières native Cyril Hamelin will join with fellow Quebec driver Jocelyn Hebert of Becancour in the No. 189 89 Racing Team Trois-Rivières Honda/Chem TVR Honda Civic Si. Quebec drivers Alain Lauziere (Vaudreuil-Dorion) and Simon Dion-Viens (St. Joseph) are each entered to drive the Nos. 197 and 198 RSR Motorsports Cruise Canada RV Rental/Castrol Mini Coopers with Americans Randy Smalley and Owen Trinkler.
Georgian Bay Motorsports will return to action with Eric Curran and Carp, Ontario native Jamie Holtom in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports SCADAPack Chevrolet Cobalt. GS Motorsports, which has Steve Kent, Gunter Schmidt and Andrew Danyliw in the No. 138 GS Motorsports C&P Cross-Border Law Chevrolet Cobalt, is also based out of Ontario.
Two other Kensai Racing Acuras will also compete. London, Ontario native Matt Pritiko and David Tuaty are scheduled to drive the No. 74 Kensai Racing Compass360.com/Skunk2/Hawk Brakes Acura RSX-S, while Daniel Colembie and Beau Buisson are in the No. 75 Kensai Racing Compass360.com/Skunk3/Hawk Brakes Acura TSX.
Other multiple-car teams include Bill Fenton Motorsports and Davis Motorsports. David Thilenius -- the defending co-winner in ST at Trois-Rivières -- and Todd Lamb (No. 27), and Bill Fenton and Bob Beede (No. 29) will be in Bill Fenton Motorsports Southern Auto Auction Acura RSX-Ss, while Plumb, Abello and Anthony Serra (No. 142) and Bob Endicott and Ken Dobson (No. 144) will drive similar Davis Acura TSXs in the Davis Motorsports stable.
Toby Grahovec and Pierre Kleinubing, who drove the No. 86 Classic BMW-Plano BMW Z4 to consecutive top-five finishes, and Shane Lewis and John Schmitt in the No. 22 HART Red Line Oil/Honda of America Honda Accord, were also strong in the KONI ST's division last race in Canada. Lewis and Schmitt finished third at Mosport. Rounding out the list are Dennis Baglier and Marty Luffy, who will drive the No. 57 Baglieracing Beaverun Driving Academy/Mazdaspeed Mazda 6.
Official practice begins Friday for both divisions, with ST qualifying at 9:15 a.m. local time Saturday and GS qualifying scheduled for 9:45 a.m. The two-hour ST race will start at 1:30 p.m. local time Saturday, while the GS race will start at 3 p.m. local time Sunday.
Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières Fast Facts
What: Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) divisions
Who: KONI Challenge competitors from across the United States, Canada and Latin America
Where: The Streets of Trois-Rivières -- Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada
When: Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. (ST); Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007 at 3 p.m. (GS)