Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup makes its first visit to historic Road America Megenbier looks to maintain the Championship lead in Round 6 of the season The 2009 SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup series has turned the corner into the last half...
Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup makes its first visit to historic Road America
Megenbier looks to maintain the Championship lead in Round 6 of the season
The 2009 SCCA Pro Racing Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup series has turned the corner into the last half of the season and is once again heading to a new circuit to showcase the only clean diesel racing series in America. On August 14-15, the series' 24 drivers face one of the toughest tests yet as they prepare for the challenging 14-turn, 4.048-mile track at Wisconsin's historic Road America road course.
Because Road America is a new track for the series, most of the drivers will be heading into Round 6 of the season with little to no experience on the longest circuit of the season. However, the current series points leader, Timmy Megenbier hopes that the experience that he gained at Road America in 2007 in karting and in Skip Barber will allow him to widen his 24-point lead over the rest of the competition.
"My earliest memory of Road America is from when I was seven years old," Megenbier said. "My dad and I went to the Indy car race every year, and I really grew to love the track once I began racing there. It's really long and fast, but unlike some other circuits that we compete on, there's not a lot of room for error since there's limited runoff room in some of the more challenging corners. Hopefully, my past experience there will play into my favor so that I'm able to stay at the top of the standings, but I know that I'm the target for everyone else heading into race weekend."
Megenbier has had an impressive season so far and leads the series in nearly every statistical category including race wins (2), laps led (33 / 46%), top-five finishes (5), front-row starts (3) and poles (1 / tied with four other drivers). While the Melrose Park, Illinois native currently maintains a strong hold on the Championship lead heading into the race weekend, he is not without challenge. Andy Lee of Maricopa, Arizona has been mounting a charge in the past few races, including his first Jetta TDI Cup win in two seasons at the series' last race at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. In addition, Lee has achieved a series-best average finishing position of fifth and has led laps in two races. He hopes that he can carry his current momentum into Road America.
"Getting my first win at our last race was a really big step for me because it totally changes your mindset heading into an event," Lee said. "There a big difference between believing you can win and knowing that you can win. Obviously, the Autobahn race was a huge boost of confidence for me, so hopefully that will help me at Road America. We only have five races left this season, so I need to make each one count from here on out in order to close the gap between Timmy and me even further. My main goal is to keep him in my mirrors."
While Megenbier and Lee have been the series standouts so far this year, the competition for the series Championship and its $100,000 prize remains tight with only 47 points separating the top four drivers. So far this season is the fact that there have been four different winners in five races and each event has had a different pole winner. One other driver hoping to put together a strong run is Renton, Washington's Joey Atterbury who currently trails Megenbier by 35 points. Atterbury's season includes one win (VIR -- Round 1), one pole position, 12 laps led and three top-five finishes. Like Lee, he also has finished in the top 10 in each race and never crossed the finish line lower than eighth.
"This season has been a bit of a roller coaster for me, but thankfully the bottoms haven't been too low," Atterbury said. "Winning our first race as a series rookie in a totally new car was a huge step for me, but I've had a few results in more recent races that I wasn't totally satisfied with. I'm really optimistic about my chances at Road America because I think the racing that we're going to see there is more in line with some of my past club racing experience in the Northwest where drafting plays a huge part of your ability to run up front. Given my extensive background with this style of racing, I think that a podium finish is a very realistic goal for me."
Megenbier competes in the Volkswagen Polo Cup in Germany
As the series points leader following the last race at Autobahn Country Club, Megenbier received the opportunity to race in Germany in the Jetta TDI Cup's sister series, the Polo Cup on August 1-2. He departed for Germany only days after the series' last race on a trek that would take him to Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg and VW's home track in Oschersleben where he competed in two Polo Cup races.
Heading into the weekend, Megenbier was at a bit of a disadvantage compared to the rest of the drivers because he had never driven their racecar (the Volkswagen Polo, which is not available in the U.S.), and he had never seen the track. Despite these challenges, he put on a strong showing that culminated with a seventh-place finish in the second race of the weekend. Unfortunately, a mix up with the starting procedure that differ from U.S. rules forced him to be disqualified from the first event.
"The chance to race in Germany was an opportunity of a lifetime for me, as it gave me a chance to see how my skills compare to drivers in Europe," Megenbier said. "The racing there is definitely different than what we have in the U.S., which I found out after being disqualified from the first event. Obviously, I was disappointed, but it only made me more determined to shine in the second race. My dream would have been to win, but I'm satisfied with seventh place since the drivers there had a lot of experience in the Polo Cup car, and they all had prior experience at the circuit. During the race weekend, I was also able to make some great contacts with the Volkswagen motorsports team in Germany, and it's my goal that I'll be able to compete overseas in some capacity next season. At this point, I'll just keep my fingers crossed and stay focused on my first goal of winning the Jetta TDI Cup Championship."
Richert races to build water filters in impoverished parts of the world
During the 2009 season, second year Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup driver David Richert has partnered with Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization. For every minute that Richert is on track racing during the season, $20 will be donated to building BioSand Water Filter units in parts of the world where the people don't have access to clean water. In addition to Richert's philanthropic racing effort, fans are also invited to participate in the cause by purchasing a Team David membership for $20. Half of this membership fee is being donated to the Samaritan's Purse effort. Each water filter costs $100 and produces enough clean water to provide for the daily needs (drinking, cooking, cleaning and hygiene) of up to eight people.
Through five races, Richert has raised $3,210, which will purchase 32 filters and provide water to 256 people in impoverished parts of the world. His goal is to raise $6,000 during the 10-race season to purchase 60 filters. More information on Richert's efforts is available at www.richertracing.com.
"My goal this season is to not only have success on the race track but to also make an impact in parts of the world where people are suffering from the lack of one of the basic human needs," Richert said. "With the support of various groups and individuals who are also behind this effort, I feel that my goal is attainable."
There's green racing, and there's the Jetta TDI Cup -- Truly green racing
In the past, racing and environmentally-friendly cars haven't gone hand in hand. However, Volkswagen changed the game in 2008 with the introduction of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, featuring the mostly-stock, clean diesel Jetta TDI. Performance testing proves that diesel-powered vehicles offer more low-end torque than traditional gasoline engines, providing quicker off-the-line acceleration that's well suited for the race track. In addition, the Jetta TDI engine's use of a "common rail" direct injection system improves fuel economy over gasoline engines and reduces sooty emissions by 95 percent, even under demanding race conditions.