Pobst and Martin survive to take GT and GTS wins at Belle Isle

In the second race of the Pirelli World Challenge event in Detroit on the Belle Isle street circuit, Randy Pobst took the GT class win while Dean Martin took home the GTS victory in his home race.

DETROIT (June 2, 2013) – Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., and Dean Martin, of nearby Westland, Mich., took home wins in the second race of the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac V-Series Challenge at Belle Isle, part of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, in the GT and GTS classes, respectively.

Pobst, who started from the second position, got the jump on the start, winning the race to Turn One in his No. 6 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60. Pobst then held on to his lead through two restarts to take the checkered flag under caution in the 22-lap race that averaged 61.745 mph around the 13-turn, 2.35-mile street course.

The three caution periods that slowed the race totaled 12 laps. The first of those was brought out on lap 10, and lasted five laps, when Tony Gaples made contact with the wall in Turn Six in the GTS class No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro.

The second yellow was displayed after a Turn One collision that happened on the lap-15 restart, forcing the field to circulate behind the safety car for an additional six laps. The collision involved five cars, including that of local driver Dane Moxlow in the No. 7 Trenton Forging/Eaton Steel Ford Mustang Boss 302S.

The third, and final, full-course caution followed contact in Turn Three, just after the lap-21 restart. That incident left Andy Pilgrim, in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R, facing the wrong way as he was challenging James Sofronas for third under braking.

All things considered Pobst was pleased with the win, but wanted to finish under green.

“The Volvo is great at the take-off,” Pobst said. “We get track position, which is really valuable, but the fact is that some of these other cars are quicker in the race.

“Johnny [O’Connell] reeled me in, and then I saw James [Sofronas] appear reeling both of us in. Although, I think, James was really reeling me while I was holding Johnny up. And that's how the drama was playing out.

“It's a shame that we had the yellows because the fans were going to see a heck of a race, because I was trying to figure out how to keep those guys behind me.”

Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., ended the day with a better result than his Cadillac Racing teammate, finishing second in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R. Following the safety car, Johnny O’Connell finished 1.109 seconds behind Pobst, resulting in a positive weekend, from a championship perspective.

“My game plan was to stay on Randy and get him to over-drive his car and make my move,” O’Connell said. “I was going to wait another 10 minutes and see what I could get. Then we had all of those cautions. It was a shame. I didn’t get the opportunity to put the Cadillac in the winner's circle again today. I think we had the stronger car. I was able to get a good start and motor up into second. It was a good day. We gained some manufacturer points on Audi. As we look forward, we have to keep that big picture in mind. I am proud of everyone on the team.”

GT Drivers’ Championship leader James Sofronas, of Villa Park, Calif., crossed the line third in the No. 14 GMG/Mobil 1 Audi R8. Starting from the pole, Sofronas fell back at the start, but by lap eight, after passing Tomy Drissi for third, closed the gap O’Connell and Pobst had created in the opening laps, turning up the pressure on the Cadillac driver before the first yellow. Following the second restart, Sofronas and Pilgrim battled hard for each precious position.

“On the restart, our car was a little bit weaker with colder tires,” Sofronas said. “I was trying my best to get them scrubbed in. The green flag dropped, and as I came through two, got a little sideways and Andy [Pilgrim] had a head of steam and actually hit me from behind, and probably helped me get farther down the straightaway. But he had a run, and I protected on the inside. We went way deeper than we would normally, knowing that we were at the tail end of it. We were rubbing door handles and mirrors and I was at the threshold [of braking performance] with him.

“Next thing I know he's turned around behind me. It's unfortunate. Andy is the cleanest racer out there.”

Duncan Ende, of Los Angeles, brought his No. 24 STANDD.org/Merchant Services Audi R8 home in fourth, tying his best finish of the year from Long Beach.

Tim Pappas, of Boston, scored his third career Pirelli World Challenge GT top-five, finishing fifth in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS.

In a wild GTS race, local favorite Martin scored his first Pirelli World Challenge victory in his second-career series start. Driving the No. 50 Picture Cars East/Grand Sanitation Ford Mustang Boss 302S, Martin had been lurking in fifth since lap eight. In the confusion of spinning cars that occurred in Turn Three following the lap-21 restart, Martin found a hole, taking the lead before the yellow came out again, also earning the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race..

Podium: Dean Martin, Ford Mustang Boss 302S
Podium: Dean Martin, Ford Mustang Boss 302S

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

“I don't know if there was more than three inches extra between Andy's [Pilgrim] car and the wall,” Martin said. “Alec [Udell] and I managed to get between them, and then just started charging on when I saw the green flag. It looked like Aschenbach got hurt in the accident, or just checked up. I just stuffed it in there and got by him, and then came around and saw the white flag. I was a little relieved because I saw Mark [Wilkins] coming.

Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, also found a way through the carnage to finish second in the No. 38 Kia Motors America Kia Optima.

“Dean [Martin] and I had a great battle for most of the race when we were under green, wheel-to-wheel bumping a little but all clean,” Wilkins said. “Alec [Udell] drove a great race as well.

“Just goes to show, you have to finish these races, stay out of trouble and push hard when you get the opportunity. Dean and I had a little better opportunity to do that during that incident from where we were.”

Alec Udell, a 17-year-old high school student of The Woodlands, Texas, followed Martin through the Turn Three wreck to finish third in the No. 17 Motorsports Development Ford Mustang Boss 203R. The finish equaled his only other career top-three finish, a third in Round Nine at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2012.

“I thought the caution was going to be a very good thing for us,” Udell said. “It was going to bunch the leaders up a bit, but we just didn't get the opportunity to take advantage. I got lucky in the end and saw a way through all of the cars and held onto my third place. We’re very happy about that.”

Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., bounced back from a disappointing exit from Saturday’s race when he broke a wheel, and finished fourth in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX.

The driver of the No. 73 Motul/StopTech/Foametix Porsche Cayman, Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., finished fifth in Sunday’s race. The finish marked the first time that Baldwin has finished off the podium in 2013.

Roger Rodas, of El Salvador, earned the Sunoco Hard Charger of the race, passing 16 cars in his No. 52 Always Evolving Performance Ford Boss 302S.

Rodas’ teammate Erik Davis, of Burbank, Calif., won the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award, moving up six positions in the opening lap, driving the No. 75 Always Evolving Autotopia Ford Mustang Boss 302S.

Lawson Aschenbach, of Jupiter, Fla., made the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race, getting into the GTS lead off the start in his No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro.

At the halfway point of the season, Sofronas holds onto his GT drivers’ point lead, with 848 points. With a win and second-place finish in Detroit, O’Connell took a bite out of the point lead, but is still 125 back. Pobst, sitting in third, is not out of the chase yet, with 675 points.

Baldwin still leads the GTS Drivers’ Championship battle totaling 769, with Wilkins only 86 markers behind after a Detroit win and second place. Cunningham is in third with 570 points.

Audi leads the GT Manufacturers’ Championship, with 52 points, while Chevrolet leads GTS, with 48.

The Cadillac V-Series Challenge at Belle Isle will air on the NBC Sports Network June 16 at 5 p.m. (EDT).

The next stop for the Pirelli World Challenge will be over the Independence Day weekend for the Cadillac Lime Rock Grand Prix July 4-6.

SCCA - World Challenge

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