Auberlen charges through field to win SCCA Speed GT race at Lime Rock Park LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 24, 2003) -- Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., started last in the SCCA Pro Racing Speed GT field and charged to victory today at Lime Rock...
Auberlen charges through field to win SCCA Speed GT race at Lime Rock Park
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 24, 2003) -- Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., started last in the SCCA Pro Racing Speed GT field and charged to victory today at Lime Rock Park, in Lakeville, Conn., as part of the Mohegan Sun Presents The Lime Rock Park Weekend. Auberlen's teammate Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif., and Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., completed the top three.
Starting shotgun on the 25 car field, Auberlen's No. 7 BMW Team PTG BMW M3 dodged opening lap chaos that allowed him to move quickly through the field, running in 12th position by the end of lap one. From there, he picked off one car after another, breaking into the top five on lap 12 and finally taking the lead from Pobst's Audi RS 6 on lap 21. From there, he would cruise for the remainder of the 42-lap race, averaging 84.291 mph and winning by 15.014 seconds.
"We were scratching our heads in qualifying," said Auberlen, who led Friday practice but qualified last in a wet session Saturday. "If it would have rained, we would have parked the car.
"The car was in a rhythm [after taking the lead] and I knew that as long as I didn't mess anything up that I'd be all right."
Auberlen is the only driver to ever start last and win an SCCA Speed World Challenge race, and he has now done it twice. In 2001, he passed 43 cars en route to an SCCA Speed Touring Car victory, also at Lime Rock Park.
Driving the No. 6 BMW Team PTG, Said started fourth and spent the majority of the race battling in the top five. Starting lap 31, Said moved inside Pobst and dove hard into turn one for second place. With Auberlen already leading by a substantial margin, Said was never able to make a dent in the lead, finishing second.
"It was great to finish one-two," said Said. "I want to give my congratulations to Billy (Auberlen). Randy [Pobst] and I were driving nose-to-tail and when I got a chance, I had to get by."
Starting from the pole position, Pobst's quattro-equipped Audi got a great jump at the standing start and led into turn one. Leading for the first 20 laps, Pobst was unable to hold off the BMW charge of Auberlen and Said and found himself in third position, with Sebring and Mosport winner Phil McClure, of Floris, Iowa, nipping at his heels by lap 28. The two would put on a fierce battle for the remaining laps, with Pobst able to maintain the position when the checkered flag fell.
"Qualifying went our way," said Pobst, who, along with his Audi teammate Michael Galati, swept the front row. "But, unfortunately, the track dried for the race. The BMWs are fast in the rain and in dry conditions, but the Audis handle very well in wet (conditions) and we are just hoping for rain on Monday [for the second of two races this weekend]."
McClure and Justin Marks, of Woodside, Calif., completed the top five. The race was slowed for one caution, when John Young, of Woodside, Calif., and Carol Hollfelder, of Covina, Calif., made contact and sent Young hard into the tire barrier. Both drivers emerged from the incident unscathed.
With the fourth-place finish, McClure was able to maintain his lead in the Championship with 88 points. Pobst and Auberlen follow with 83 and 78, respectively.
In the SCCA Speed GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine, Chevrolet still leads with 21 points, followed by Audi and BMW, tied at 15, Porsche with eight and Saleen with seven.
The SCCA Speed GT Championship returns to Lime Rock Park on Monday for Round Four of the 10-race Championship. Qualifying is scheduled to roll off at 9:00 a.m. with the race following at 11:15 a.m.
For more information on the SCCA Speed World Challenge, please visit www.world-challenge.com.
-scca pro racing-