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Laguna Seca: GT race report

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 7, 2003) -- Paul Mumford, of Yorba Linda, Calif., captured his first-career SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge GT win at the Fry' Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. SCCA Speed World ...

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 7, 2003) -- Paul Mumford, of Yorba Linda, Calif., captured his first-career SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge GT win at the Fry' Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. SCCA Speed World Challenge GT point leader Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, finished second and pole sitter Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., finished third.

Mumford piloted his No. 23 SP Tools/Magellan Financial Dodge Viper Competition Coupe to victory circle winning by a 0.745-second margin at an average speed of 78.303 mph for the 28-lap, 62.664-mile race. Mumford, who qualified third, passed race leader Pobst on lap three and he never looked back.

"I was gaining on them up in the corkscrew coming down the hill and I filled their mirrors at nine," Mumford said about trying to run down Pobst and then second-place Michael Galati for the lead. "Which set them up for [turn] 10 and I got a big run out of 10. I went next to him (Pobst) at 11. I don't think he even saw it coming. And, I got out in front."

Mumford's win was the first for a Dodge Viper in Speed GT competition since Bobby Archer's win at Mosport International Raceway in 2000. It was also the first for the new-generation Viper Competition Coupe.

Auberlen, driving the No. 7 BMW Team PTG BMW M3, started eighth. On lap-13, he was riding 12.060-seconds behind in third, when a full course yellow flag came out for No. 25 Tony Gaples, of Lake Forest, Ill., who hit the tire wall at turn six. On the lap-16 restart, Mumford and Pobst went side-by-side deep into turn one, neither one wanting to lift, Pobst ended up in the turn one gravel, allowing Auberlen to slide into second. Auberlen did his best to run down new race leader Mumford, but the V10 powered Dodge Viper was too much for the light and nimble BMW M3.

"I was hoping Paul [Mumford] would just make any kind of mistake," Auberlen said. "I watched him make only one mistake, and that was a missed shift. That was the only time I didn't get pulled away from. He was as solid as could be."

Pobst had to put his twin-turbo Champion Racing Audi RS 6 to the test, after dropping from second to 11th following the lap-16 restart.

"It [the race] went yellow and bunched the field," Pobst said describing the restart. "That was the real turning point. I gave it all I had to try to beat him [Mumford] down into one and get the Viper between me and Billy [Auberlen]. And, I failed. I couldn't get it stopped. I went out and through the dirt and fortunately I had quattro to get me through the gravel. I fell way back. And, actually, I had a really enjoyable and satisfying race from that point to come back from eighth or ninth to third."

Hans Stuck finished fourth driving the No. 8 BMW Team PTG BMW M3. He was the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award winner for advancing seven positions throughout the race. Stuck was also awarded the Remus Power Move of the Race for passes on Galati in turn 11 and BMW Team PTG teammate Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif., in turn five.

Said powered his No. 6 BMW M3 to a fifth-place finish.

Auberlen now has a 20-point lead in the Speed GT Drivers' Championship, with 208 points, followed by Pobst (188 points), Phil McClure (163), Mike Fitzgerald (157) and Hans Stuck (157).

BMW maintains the lead in the Speed GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine, with 50 points, followed by Audi (40 points), Porsche (29) and Chevrolet (27).

The SCCA Speed World Challenge GT and Touring Car Championships next head to Road Atlanta Oct. 15-18 for the Petit Le Mans in Braselton, Ga.

Today's race will initially air at 3:00 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, Sept. 20 on Speed Channel.

-scca pro racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Boris Said , Randy Pobst , Michael Galati , Bobby Archer , Tony Gaples , Paul Mumford