Leighton Reese and the Banner Engineering Corvette C-6 suffer another DNF after contact in SPEED World Challenge GT race at Infineon Raceway Sonoma, California: (July 16, 2005) For Leighton Reese and the Banner Racing Team Round 7 of the SCCA...
Leighton Reese and the Banner Engineering Corvette C-6 suffer another DNF after contact in SPEED World Challenge GT race at Infineon Raceway
Sonoma, California: (July 16, 2005) For Leighton Reese and the Banner Racing Team Round 7 of the SCCA Pro Racing's SPEED World Challenge GT Series would be remembered as the best of times and the worst of times as although he would start his Banner Engineering Chevy Corvette C6 from the front row here on the rolling hills and dales of Infineon Raceway the race would end with disappointing results as car to car contact in a tight battle for 2nd position resulted in two flat tires and a broken differential.
Reese of Minnetonka Minnesota was running a close 3rd to Wolf Henzler's Porsche 911 who was in turn buried into the trunk of race leader Lou Gigliotti's Corvette as this lead trio checked out from the rest of the field in the opening 8 laps.
After an unsuccessful pass attempt by Henzler on Gigliotti left Henzler's Porsche vulnerable Reese got along side of Henzler in the Carousel and when Reese tried to squeeze past in turn 7 Henzler got two wheels off and bounced off Reese's Banner Corvette. The damage to the cars was slight but it flattened tires on both Reese's Corvette and Henzler's Porsche.
The contact ended what might have been a great race between Reese, Henzler and Gigliotti as both Leighton and Wolf had to pit for tires with actual air pressure leaving Lou to drive off to an easy, but well earned victory.
"It was pretty much a racing accident, we both wanted the same part of the track," Leighton Reese said after the race. "Mitch (Wright) told me it looked like I took his (Wolf Henzler) line away. Darned right I was trying to take his line away. He wanted to stay in 2nd and I didn't want to stay in 3rd!"
"I didn't talk to Wolf (Henzler) after the race but I'm Ok with what happened," Leighton said of his mid-race contact with Wolf Henzler's Applied Materials Porsche.
"We had a car capable of winning and like Joe said, we didn't come here to finish 3rd so I had to take a run at him," Leighton continued. "It was a shame. Joe has the car really chassising really well!"
Leighton dropped to 20th and Henzler to 15th after their pit stops to replace their flat tires while this left Lou Gigliotti all alone in first place to stroke his Corvette home for the win as this trio had pretty much checked out on the rest of the field in the early going.
"We had a good car all weekend and at least we hit the setup," said crew chief Joe Kantarik. "It just wasn't meant to be!"
"We could have idled around and finished on the podium but we wanted to win the race," Reese said.
On lap 20 the differential broke, quite possibly due to the contact earlier with Henzler, ending the day for the Banner Engineering Corvette as one could say it is better to have something fail while well back in the pack as opposed to having something break while leading.
"We had a good car today but when Henzler got into Leighton that pretty much ended the race for us," said Joe Kantarik. "Then we blew the diff just finish off the deal."
Did Gigliotti, Reese and Henzler have the field covered at Infineon? Pretty much as Henzler and Leighton set the fastest two laps of the race at 1:42.322 and 1:42.789 respectively with Gigliotti running a best lap of 43.2. Everyone else was in the 1:44's or higher.