APR Motorsport at Lime Rock; Pole Position to Podium! Lakeville, CT: The APR Motorsport team again had a very strong showing at the Lime Rock round of the 2009 KONI Sports Car Challenge. The team made rapid progress dialing in the ...
APR Motorsport at Lime Rock; Pole Position to Podium!
Lakeville, CT: The APR Motorsport team again had a very strong showing at the Lime Rock round of the 2009 KONI Sports Car Challenge. The team made rapid progress dialing in the #171 and #181 VW GTI's to suit the newly repaved circuit throughout the limited practice sessions. The end result of the hard work was putting the #171 GTI on pole for the start of the race, the team's first pole position of 2009, and qualifying #181 solidly in the top ten.
Starting the race at the front of the grid was Josh Hurley in the #171 APR/Gunther VW GTI. About pole position (his first in KONI competition) Josh Hurley said, "We had a transmission fail in the final practice, just before qualifying. The APR Motorsport team was absolutely amazing; not only for getting the car put back together before qualifying, but that we were third in line for the start of the session! We worked very hard on setup and this was the best set-up race car I have ever driven." In 9th position after qualifying, Mike Sweeney in the #181 GTI put in his fastest time of the weekend and said, "I managed to put together a good lap but traffic held us up. By the time I found a clearing, the track temp had risen too much. I tried to get the best out of the car but we are starting near the front of the grid."
Right from the start, Hurley was locked in an intense three-way battle for the lead. After a few lead swaps, the #171 took the lead on lap 41 and stayed there until the pitstop on lap 65 for a driver change, new tires, and a full fuel load. Before the pitstop, Hurley put in a series of "qualifying" laps to stretch his lead to nearly 3 seconds over the second place car. About his stint, Josh said "The car was great. We had a specific race strategy and just stuck to it. Glen (Bocchino) and I had an intense battle early on but thankfully it settled down after a while!" With Ian Baas in the #171 for the second half of the race, the team was looking to be a favorite for a victory. Baas was effective in managing the race from the lead and drew out a 3 second gap on second place before a caution closed up the field. Baas led a race-high 59 laps. After the restart, Baas was under pressure from several cars eventually giving up the lead. While lining up a pass to retake the lead, another full-course caution meant the race was going to finish under yellow. "This is absolutely heartbreaking to finish in second place. The timing of the full-course caution at the end was devastating and given another green flag lap, I certainly could have retaken the lead. We ended up on the podium with good points while our championship rivals had poor performances so we closed up a bit. We will be in the hunt at Watkins Glen, maybe it will be our first win!"
Meanwhile in the #181 GTI, Sweeney made a good start but after an altercation with lapped traffic, lost a couple of spots. "Our strategy was to let the race come to us and I was on cruise control in 6th place. I really have no idea if the other driver even saw me behind him in the several turns I was attempting to overtake." Just before the planned pitstop for #181, a faulty fuel pump connector stopped the car on course. By the time the problem was rectified, Sweeney had been lapped several times and turned the car over to Dion von Moltke. Von Moltke then began a string of fast laps, quite often being the fastest car on the track for the majority of his stint. While making steady progress, the same electrical issue resurfaced and forced another stop for repair. Von Moltke said, "We had a car capable of winning today and our lap times prove it. We have had some bad luck in the past two events but the team is working hard to make sure we are in a position to win the upcoming races."
The team will return to action at the famous Watkins Glen International Raceway on June 5, 2009.