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Watkins Glen: K-PAX/3R Racing race report

Pobst and Pilgrim finish 4th and 5th in Round 5 of SPEED GT at Watkins Glen Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim began Toyo Tires Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Lala Motorsports, Round 5 of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT ...

Pobst and Pilgrim finish 4th and 5th in Round 5 of SPEED GT at Watkins Glen

Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim began Toyo Tires Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Lala Motorsports, Round 5 of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championships, with a lot of questions and uncertainty but finished 4th and 5th as their K-PAX Volvo S60s performed well.

The K-PAX/3R Racing team and Pobst and Pilgrim both felt that finishing 4th and 5th in today's race was a victory of sorts after all of the concerns surrounding transmission difficulties made even finishing the race a big question mark.

Pobst's #1 K-PAX Volvo suffered a transmission problem during Thursday's practice and Pilgrim's #8 Volvo had transmission problems during qualifying on Friday afternoon. After burning the midnight oils to replace the transmission in the #1 Volvo the team had to repeat the chore on the #8 car. What made the situation worse was that the team had to cobble together a working transmission out of the two broken ones to get a working unit into Pilgrim's car.

At one point there was some doubt that Andy Pilgrim would be able to start the race let alone finish it.

"I feel like I won," said Andy Pilgrim who made three passes late in the race to finish his #8 K-PAX Volvo S60 in 5th position. "It feels like a win because we couldn't do a proper start because we were worried about first gear. This was just another amazing job by the K-PAX 3R Racing guys. We started the race with the crew saying, 'this is all we could do' and we came away with a 5th.

"It was just fantastic! The transmission worked well for the entire race. I was being a little gentle with it and making sure I was all the way out of the gas before I shifted but I didn't have any problems at all."

"Will Moody, my car-chief, is one of the best suspension engineers there is and he is a darned good transmission engineer as well because he has had to become one," said Pobst with a smile. "He spent about 20 hours building the transmissions for these two cars and he did it right. My Volvo shifted beautifully the entire race."

Randy Pobst, of Gainesville Georgia, started his #1 K-PAX/3R Racing Volvo S60 6th and early on was able to pass Davis' Mustang for 5th.

"I had a great time driving the K-PAX Volvo today," said Randy Pobst. "The handling is just getting better and better. I really enjoyed the competition. At the start I got by Brandon Davis and then he went by me down the straight like I was tied to a tree. "

The race settled in and despite a visibility problem Pobst rallied back and applied constant pressure on Davis for the 4th position as Daskalos' Viper faded back due to handling issues.

"Up to that point it was really enjoyable but we did pick up a water leak which lubricated my windshield and I couldn't see a darned thing for the second half of the race," said Pobst. "I was using the "Force" to drive. My K-PAX Volvo got better and better and towards the end of the race I was turning my best lap times and so enjoyable to drive I am really looking forward to the next race."

Randy finally got past Davis on the closing lap to capture a well earned 4th place finish.

Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton Florida, started the #8 K-PAX Volvo 7th but was in 11th as the field streamed into turn 1. There was so much concern about the transmission and first gear Andy chose to make a less than aggressive start to save the equipment.

Andy moved back up and soon began a race long battle with Tony Rivera for 7th. Rivera and Pilgrim caught the fading Daskalos halfway through the race. Andy was able to pass not only Rivera and Daskalos on the final laps but Davis as well to finish 5th as Davis suffered a broken throttle only a few turns from the checkered flag.

"I think Tony [Rivera] and I had different problems, he had an over steer and a problem with the back end of his car and I had a problem with the front end of my car," said Pilgrim of his race long duel with Rivera and his Porsche. "It was a see-saw battle the whole time. It was a good race but I couldn't get out of the corners very well and I would lose just enough on the straight-a-ways that I couldn't make a move at the end of the straights.

"Early on he was strong out of the corners but when his tires started to go away I got in a position where I could get close to the back end of his car. He was bad coming out of the last turn and I finally got by him going down into turn one. It wasn't like he made a big mistake his back end was going out on him and it got worse.

"My car was pushing but it stayed consistent throughout the race. Jason [Daskalos] bobbled coming out of the toe of the boot and tried the inside of him but he went right. I moved left and got alongside of him on the outside going into the next corner and then I was on the inside through the left hander so I got by him there."

The 5th place finish for Pilgrim kept him in 3rd position in the Drivers' Championship with 448 points while Pobst's 4th place finish moves the defending GT champ up to 6th with 351. Davis leads the championship with 464 with Tony Rivera in 4th with 443. Volvo is 4th in the Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine with 18 points. Porsche leads the chase with 35.

"Even after being adjusted earlier in the season I think these Volvos have the capability of winning again and 3R Racing has done such a great job for K-PAX so far this season making these cars run and work so well. This is a development year for us and we have both cars finish well and we ran at the leaders pace today so I think we are going to get another win this year, we are going to get a win!"

Next up for the K-PAX 3R Racing Volvo S60s of Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim is Round 6 at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet Illinois on July 24-26 2009.

The Toyo Tires Grand Prix at Watkins Glen Presented by Lala Motorsports will be broadcast on Tuesday, July 22 at 2 p.m. (EDT).

-credit: k-pax/3rr

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Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Randy Pobst , Tony Rivera , Brandon Davis