Wittmer Dominates for World Challenge Win at Long Beach; McQuarrie, Stout Class Winners LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2010) -- Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, led flag-to-flag to claim victory at the Toyo Tires World Challenge at Long Beach Presented...
Wittmer Dominates for World Challenge Win at Long Beach; McQuarrie, Stout Class Winners
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2010) -- Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, led flag-to-flag to claim victory at the Toyo Tires World Challenge at Long Beach Presented by Bondurant, the final race of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Tyler McQuarrie, of Walnut Creek, Calif., and Robert Stout, of Brownsburg, Ind., captured the GTS and Touring Car classes, respectively.
Wittmer's race weekend was nearly perfect in the No. 13 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Viper, earning the pole with a new track record, and cruising to an 8.475-second margin of victory.
With a clear vision of the first turn from his front row starting position, Wittmer rocketed away from the standing start and had opened up over a full second lead on the first lap. That gap continued to grow, and at lap 16 was at 7.271 seconds.
"The most important thing was to get off the line," Wittmer said. "I had Brandon [Davis] behind me and I know he has two years of experience with the standing start in his car. I only have three races now in the Viper. On top of that, we had the two all-wheel-drive Volvos sitting second and fourth. But, they didn't really get off the line."
Leading by 10.579 seconds by lap 20, Wittmer was able to cruise to the finish.
"I got away and looked in the mirror and saw Brandon behind me and I was just trying to pace myself and not look back," Wittmer continued. "Brandon put the pressure on early. He was catching us for sure at different points. But the Viper product proved to be the car to have today. The team really did a great job. I can tell you, for the next month, before the next race, I know that car is going to be in pieces, going through it trying to make it quicker."
Wittmer averaged a record 80.787 mph over the 29-lap, 57.072-mile race that ran without a full-course caution period. It was the 26-year-old's fifth career World Challenge victory, but his first in the GT class. He also turned the fastest lap of the race at 1:25.797 (82.576 mph), a new Long Beach race record.
Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., sliced his way through the GT field in his No. 4 Centric Parts/Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 from his sixth starting position to finish as the runner-up to Wittmer. Crescentini made up two positions by the first turn, and held that position until lap 8 when he was passed by Ron Fellows in the No. 2 Carlisle Companies/Cragar Chevrolet Corvette and dropped to fifth.
On lap 17, Crescentini began his charge. He passed Fellows for fourth, and then picked off Boris Said in the No. 3 Applied Comp Solutions/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang GT for third on lap 20. He slipped past Brandon Davis in the No. 1 Applied Comp Solutions Ford Mustang GT for second on lap 23, but wasn't able to significantly close the gap on Wittmer.
The charge through the top-five earned Crescentini the MTM Special Ops Best Move of the Race award.
"I was a bit apprehensive at the start," Crscentini said. "I couldn't see the start lights and needed to have my crew call the start. The car was the same at the end as it was at the very beginning. It was all about out-braking everyone today. In every corner on every lap, I was able to out-brake people. I can't out-power them so I had to out-brake them.
"I had the most fun today I've ever had in a race car. It was just so busy the entire time and such good racing."
The runner-up finish did boost Crescentini into the GT Championship lead with 292 points, one point ahead of Wittmer and just two ahead of Global Motorsports Group teammate James Sofronas.
Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., held onto third position in his first GT race of the season. Davis finished on the podium in Rounds One and Two in St. Petersburg in the GTS class.
Said, of Carlsbad, Calif., held on for fourth position after a multi-lap battle with Fellows ended when the Corvette blew an engine on lap 27. Fellows finished 18th in class, but earned the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race when he passed Said on lap 25 to momentarily gain the fourth position.
Defending race winner Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., completed the top-five in the No. 14 GMG Porsche 911 GT3.
Randy Pobst (Volvo S60) finished sixth after starting second on the grid, followed by Jeff Courtney (Dodge Viper) in seventh. Rob Morgan (Porsche 911 GT3), Andy Pilgrim (Volvo S60) and Tony Gaples (Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top-10.
Bill Ziegler earned the Sunoco Hard Charger award for improving seven positions to finish 11th in GT and overall in the No. 05 Swisher Racing Porsche 911 GT3. Jason Daskalos improved five positions on the opening lap in the No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper to earn the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start.
McQuarrie, making his World Challenge debut, cruised to a 49.535-second flag-to-flag victory in his No. 19 LPL/DRS/Switcars/LCS/Dayco/M&T Lotus Exige S.
Starting on pole, McQuarrie got a jump on the field on the first lap, aided in part by the poor luck of Peter Cunningham in the No. 43 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX. Following contact with another car, Cunningham's hood opened into the windshield of his Acura on lap one, forcing him into the pits that put him a lap down and ended any challenge the Series' all-time wins leader could have given McQuarrie.
"I had a great start and actually got by a couple of GT cars," McQuarrie said. "I didn't have a working radio in the race, so I didn't actually realize who was behind me. I looked up at the screen on the second lap and saw one of the Acuras head to the pits with the hood up. I dialed it back just a little bit when I felt I could."
McQuarrie also competed in last week's Formula Drift event at Long Beach.
"I have to really thank the LPL and DRS team. They only got this car about five weeks ago and really did a fantastic job with it. To be able to run it here at Long Beach--to run both weekends, is really awesome. I think April in Long Beach is a little bit like May in Indy. It's a special time and to win here is just awesome."
Cunningham, the GTS points leader, finished sixth.
The GTS win was the first time a Lotus had won a race of any kind at Long Beach since Mario Andretti won the 1977 Formula One event in a John Player Lotus.
Acura/RealTime Racing's Nick Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., finished a distant second to McQuarrie in the No. 34 Acura TSX for his third podium finish in as many races on the season. Michael Pettiford, of Louisville, Colo., finished third in the No. 41 Go4It Racing Schools/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette in finishing third.
Charles Espenlaub, driving as a replacement driver for Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey, finished fourth in the No. 03 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/ProParts MAZDA3. Dempsey practiced on Friday and Saturday, but was unable to make the race because of commitments to filming the television show.
Gary Tolar, of Corona, Calif., finished fifth in the No. 86 GMG/GT Racing LLC Porsche 996.
Cunningham remains the GTS Drivers' Championship leader with 358 points over Esayian (317) and Pettiford (275).
Stout's Touring Car win made him, at 18 years old, one month and 16 days, the youngest winner in World Challenge. The youngster started second in class in the No. 18 DG-Spec/Scion/TRD/Lucas Oil/Scion tC, but had grabbed the lead from polesitter Nick Wittmer by the first time past the line.
By lap seven, Stout's lead was stretched to over 10 seconds and he raced to a 19.666-second margin of victory.
"I felt like I got off to a decent start," Stout said. "I worked my way around Nick [Wittmer] a lap or so after the start. I heard he had some problems over the radio. I knew I had a pretty good gap over second place at that point and I tried to take it as easy as I could."
Even with the big lead, the end of the race had a couple of nervous moments for Stout.
"With about 10 laps to go, I started to have some problems with the left rear," he said. "I didn't even know if I was going to make it, so I really tried to take it easy through the right handers. But the car came through and we made it through with a first place finish.
"There are so many Toyota representatives here at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the support for Team Scion has been amazing. This is one of the biggest races in the world. I couldn't ask for anything more than to win at Long Beach."
Stout was followed across the stripe by Eric Meyer, of Indianapolis, Ind., in the No. 32 XOWii/Samaritan's Feet/Delvira Mazda RX-8. Meyer battled with Stout's teammate, Dan Gardner, in the No. 36 DG Spec/Scion/TRD/Lepper&Associates Scioon tC for the first half of the race, but inherited the second position for good on lap 15 when Gardner's day ended after a brush of the wall.
Montreal's Nick Wittmer, the younger brother of GT race-winner Kuno, recovered from an early flat tire after contact with another car to finish third.
Stout's win allows him to inherit the Touring Car Drivers' Championship lead with 350 points. Meyer (281), Todd Buras (264), and Gardner (263) trail Stout after three of 12 races.
The race from Long Beach will be broadcast May 1 at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) on Versus.
The World Challenge Championships return to action with a doubleheader at Mosport International Raceway, May 21-23.
-source: scca pro racing