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Laguna Seca: Ian Baas race report

Baas Salvages 11th In SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Season Finale at Laguna Seca MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 21 - Ian Baas led part of the first lap of Sunday's SPEED World Challenge Touring Car season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but a...

Baas Salvages 11th In SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Season Finale at Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 21 - Ian Baas led part of the first lap of Sunday's SPEED World Challenge Touring Car season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but a mechanical problem spoiled his run. The popular driver from Noblesville, Ind. ended up 11th with the STaSIS Motorsport Audi A4 No. 18.

Baas was third for the standing start. Everyone from Team Janica Racing, silvertrek.com, STaSIS, Clear Capital, Livermore Audi and the Think First National Injury Foundation cheered when he blasted into the lead at the drop of the green, going right up the middle between polesitter Randy Pobst and the other driver who shared the front row, Peter Cunningham.

Baas led the field through Turn 1, but inside the cockpit he was already dealing with a mechanical problem which caused him to fall back to sixth by the end of lap one.

He held on to sixth through lap four before dropping to eighth with five laps complete. At that point he and Michael Galati made contact, with Baas' Audi suffering left-side bodywork damage and a flat left-rear tire. He spun due to the flat tire, ending up facing the wrong way in the middle of the track with the rest of the field approaching. Dino Crescentini got caught up in the action and spun too, creating a double pirouette with Baas before both continued.

Baas made it back to the pits, where the STaSIS crew replaced the flat tire without the car losing a lap. He started all over again from 18th position at the restart on lap eight.

Baas passed Carl Hober for 17th on lap nine, and he got 16th by passing Matt Richmond on lap 10. He moved up to 15th when the 13th place car driven by Charlie Putman got off course in Turn 8 on lap 13.

Baas ran in 15th until lap 19 when he passed E. Glenn Bocchino for 14th place. He moved into 13th after two more trips around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course when he passed Christian Miller.

Pobst, who had led since lap one, ended up in a gravel trap after contact with Pierre Kleinubing on lap 23, which gave Baas 12th position on the white-flag lap, lap 24. Kleinubing took the checkered flag in first place but he'd been black-flagged due to the contact with Pobst, so Cunningham ended up winning and Baas finished 11th.

"It was some sort of mechanical problem," Baas said afterwards. "There was no drive coming out of the corners. The transmission would engage and disengage at will. It happened right at the start, and from that point on I was just trying to hold on. I could catch the cars in front of me in some of the corners, but then I'd only be at about 30 percent throttle before it would start doing crazy stuff again. I couldn't attack at all. The right-hand corners were good, but there's only about two of them here.

"The win slipped through our hands today due to that," he noted. "It should have been a good race for us.

"The team did a great job to get the flat tire changed before we lost a lap," Baas noted. "That happened due to contact with Gilati in Turn 2."

The race will be shown on SPEED at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, Oct. 28.

Baas ended up 12th in the series' driver point standings for the year. His best race was the one at Toronto in July, where he started and finished second. He had four top-10 finishes in the 10-race season.

-credit: restart communications

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Series PWC
Drivers Randy Pobst , Pierre Kleinubing , Michael Galati , Peter Cunningham , Ian Baas , Glenn Bocchino , Dino Crescentini , Charlie Putman , Carl Hober , Chris Miller