SCC: VIR II: Billy Johnson race notes

Johnson finishes top 10 in points for his first GS season. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 10, 2008) - In his first season of Grand-Am Koni Challenge Gran Sport (GS), Billy Johnson drove for two different teams, in three different cars, with five ...

Johnson finishes top 10 in points for his first GS season.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 10, 2008) - In his first season of Grand-Am Koni Challenge Gran Sport (GS), Billy Johnson drove for two different teams, in three different cars, with five different co-drivers. Even with these inconsistencies throughout the season, Johnson finished in to top 10 six times, with four podiums and finished 7th in the Driver Championship. Only Bill Auberlen and Matt Alhadeff co-driving the Turner Motersports M3 had as many podiums, they finished 8th and 10th respectively. Andy Lally, who finished 11th was the only other driver in the top 15 to start for multiple different teams and cars from all three of the contending manufacturers.

Johnson started the season driving for his primary team Motorsport Technology Group in the No. 19 Porsche 997 co-driving with Darren Law. In the latter half of the race, Johnson passed race-winner Craig Stanton for fourth place shortly before his engine expired where he and Law finished 30th.

Next up Johnson driving for Motorsport Technology Group was behind the wheel of a brand new platform, the No. 18 Morris Animal Foundation BMW Z4 M-Coupe. Partnered up with Tom Milner Jr., the duo battled teething issues with the new platform and had to make a late race pit-stop for fuel resulting in a 14th place finish. In only its second race ever, Johnson took the M-Coupe to its first podium at Mosport.

Barber Motorsports Park, Johnson drove with Andrew Davis in the Z4 M-Coupe. After running in the top 5 the entire race, brake issues forced the No. 18 to hold on to a 6th place finish.

The next two races Johnson was partnered with Ray Mason in the No. 52 Rehagen Racing Columbus Truck & Equipment Ford Mustang FR500C. After a respectable top ten finish in Iowa, Johnson made a hard charge to the front to take his second podium of the season on the streets of Trois Rivieres.

The next two races were some of the most exciting of the year, both of which happened to be televised by SPEED. Back again driving for Motorsport Technology Group in the Z4 M-Coupe, Johnson was partnered with L.P. Dumoulin. The intense last laps showcased Johnson battling with the No.83 BGB Porsche of Craig Stanton fighting for the win, with Johnson acquiring his third podium of the season finishing 2nd.

Back in the seat of the No. 52 Mustang with Ray Mason, Johnson finished the hat trick with his third-straight podium and tying Bill Auberlen for the most podiums (4) of the GS class for the year.

The season-finale 6-hour race at VIR turned out to be an unfortunate turn of bad luck with a brake failure causing Andrew Davis to flip multiple times in the No. 18 BMW Z4 M-Coupe ending their race.

"After a series leading 4 wins with co-driver Karl Tompson in ST last year, 4 podiums in my first year of GS driving with so many different co-drivers, teams, and cars was a great experience" said Johnson, "If we didn't have the beginning and season ending mechanical issues, I would have been in a position to win the championship in my first year. Finishing 7th in the championship for my first GS season was a good result, and I'm looking forward to bettering this performance next year.

I would like to thank Steve Marcus for giving me the opportunity to drive for MTG this year and would like to especially thank Larry Hahn for engenerring my car all season. In its first year of competition, the little Z4 M-Coupe made the podium in 1/3rd of its races. Only the Turner M3 of Auberlen and Alhadeff had a better podium percentage. With continued development I think it can be an awesome package for next year. I would also like to thank Ray Mason for giving me the opportunity to drive the No. 52 Ford Mustang FR500C with him, and Dean Martin and Rehagen Racing for such a great job of car preparation."

Johnson looks forward to continuing in GS for 2009 as well as to move up in to Rolex.

-credit: bj

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Ray Mason , Andy Lally , Darren Law , Andrew Davis , Craig Stanton , Dean Martin , Billy Johnson
Teams Rehagen Racing