Espenlaub Tops SPEED TC Practice at Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 3, 2009) -- Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., led SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car practice for the second day in-a-row at Watkins Glen International in...
Espenlaub Tops SPEED TC Practice at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 3, 2009) -- Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., led SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car practice for the second day in-a-row at Watkins Glen International in preparation for Saturday's Toyo Tires Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Lala Motorsports, part of the Camping World Grand Prix weekend. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Quebec, were second and third fastest, respectfully.
Driving the No. 73 MAZDASPEED/Stoptech/ProParts MAZDA6, Espenlaub exchanged the top spot with Cunningham several times before securing the top spot with a 2:07.672 (95.870 mph). Looking for the fourth-straight Mazda win at The Glen this weekend, Espenlaub attributed the car's success at the 11-turn, 3.4-mile track to the course's high-speed corners.
"Watkins is a higher speed track," Espenlaub said. "There's not a lot of slow corners that lead onto the straightaways and that compliments the zoom-zoom horsepower of the Mazdas. We're better in the corners, but we don't come out of them as well as the cars with the bigger motors. We can carry momentum into and through the corner and that really benefits us at a track like Watkins Glen."
At the top of the practice times yesterday as well, Espenlaub is enjoying the new combined practice format, which gave the World Challenge Touring and GT cars a one hour and 10 minute practice session ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session.
"[Combined practice] gives you a lot of time to come in and make changes. With the good drivers we have in GT, we don't have the issues that we used to have, so it's really nice.
"My car is absolutely fantastic," Espenlaub beamed. "Tri-Point did a great job. We came in and made a couple changes and then some more changes and it kept making the car better. We're just going to wax the car at this point [heading into afternoon qualifying]. (Teammates) Jason [Saini] and Eric's [Foss] cars are working well, so hopefully we'll score a lot of points this weekend."
Defending polesitter Cunningham ended the session with a best time of 2:07.826 (95.755 mph) in his No. 1 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX. He was followed on the timesheets by teammate Wittmer in the No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX. The Canadian entered a 2:08.095 (95.554 mph).
Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, was fourth fastest in the No. 74 MAZDAPSEED/Stoptech/ProParts MAZDA6. The 2008 World Challenge Touring Car Rookie of the Year turned a 2:08.152 (95.111 mph).
Completing the top five, James Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., picked up more than two seconds from his practice times yesterday. Driving the No. 36 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW 328i, Clay entered a 2:08.229 (95.454 mph).
Clay's teammate Seth Thomas (BMW) followed in sixth.
Pierre Kleinubing (Acura TSX), Nick Esayian (BMW 328i), Eric Foss (MAZDA6) and Andrew Aquilante (Subaru WRX) completed the top 10.
The sole red flag period of the session was brought out for the Touring Car 2 entry of John Heinricy, from Royal, Mich., in the No. 32 Phoenix Performance Subaru Legacy. Heinricy's Legacy needed to be removed from Turn 11 after contact with the tire wall. The extensive damage to has forced the team to withdraw the car from the weekend.
"I made my turn into the turn at full speed," Heinricy said. "I was planning to come in the next lap for a tire pressure check. Suddenly, the left front end washed out completely and I was into the tires."
Qualifying for Round Five of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship will take place this afternoon at 4 p.m. (EDT). Live timing and notes will be available at www.world-challenge.com. The Toyo Tires Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Lala Motorsports is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, July 4.
-credit: scca pro racing