Leighton Reese finishes a strong fifth in SPEED World Challenge GT race at Infineon Raceway July 18, 2004 -- Sonoma California Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, MN, survived a race long battle to finish a strong 5th position in his familiar black...
Leighton Reese finishes a strong fifth in SPEED World Challenge GT race at Infineon Raceway
July 18, 2004 -- Sonoma California
Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, MN, survived a race long battle to finish a strong 5th position in his familiar black and yellow Banner Engineering Corvette in today's Round 4 of the SPEED World Challenge GT Series at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma California.
As racers often are Leighton Reese was happy to meet his goal of a top five finish but was disappointed because he felt that it could have been better had he been able to get past Michael Galati's Audi RS6 sooner.
"The car was great all weekend but it picked up a wicked push during the race," Leighton said after the race. "The car was plowing so bad that it would have made a Massey-Ferguson dealer proud."
The race won by Porsche Super Cup star driver Wolf Henzler, who has won 7 of 8 races in that series, got off to a rocky start as the field almost came to a complete stop in turn 2 as cars were three and four wide jockeying for position.
Leighton avoided any serious contact and came out of the traffic jam in 5th position saying, "I came to a dead stop right at the apex of turn 2. The cars were three wide. They were everywhere. I think someone tapped me from behind but I'm not sure who."
Reese spent the opening half of the race sandwiched between the factory supported Champion Audis of Galati and 2003 GT Champion Randy Pobst with the two factory Cadillac CTS-Vs of Andy Pilgrim and Max Angelelli and Lou Gigliotti's Corvette right behind Pobst.
"I was the bologna in an Audi sandwich for about 10 laps," Leighton would say after the race.
Every time Leighton would get along side of Galati he would loose speed and fall back into jeopardy of being passed my 2 or 3 cars. When Reese finally did get into 4th position he started gaining on Tommy Archer in the 3R Racing Dodge Viper who was all alone in 3rd position but when he caught Archer Leighton had used up his tires and had no chance of passing Archer's Viper.
"I wasted a lot of energy trying to get by Galati," Leighton later said to Tommy Archer. If I had gotten past Galati early in the race I would have been putting a hurt on you big time."
"I knew that," said Archer with a smile. "I was watching what you guys were going to do with the Audi. When you got past the Audi that was when my race started."
"When you guys got past the Audi I knew it would be harder for me so I went as slow as I could go to stay ahead of him (Galati)," Archer said with a smile about his tire conservation strategy. "I knew that I couldn't run with Phil (McClure) and the Porsche (Henzler)."
Leighton lost 4th position to Andy Pilgrim and his factory Cadillac CTS-V in the closing laps after Reese almost went off track on the gravel covered turn 2.
"I got to turn 2 and it was solid gravel and I slipped and slid and Pilgrim got all the way next to me," said Reese of the closing laps. "He had to work pretty hard to get around me but Andy got me under braking into turn 11."
Both Reese and Pilgrim went side by side through turn 11 but the Cadillac powered away down going onto the pit straight.
The 5th place finish was a good one for Leighton Reese and his Banner Engineering Corvette and the teams feels that this is a great building point for next weekend's race at Portland. Especially after the disappointing race they had had at Mid-Ohio in June.
Round 5 of the SPEED World Challenge Series will take place on Sunday July 25th at Portland International Raceway in Portland Oregon.