Gleason and Auberlen Win at Lime Rock Park LAKEVILLE, Conn., May 28 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif., spent Memorial Day doing what they like best: winning. The pair drove the Turner Motorsport BMW...
Gleason and Auberlen Win at Lime Rock Park
LAKEVILLE, Conn., May 28 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif., spent Memorial Day doing what they like best: winning.
The pair drove the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 No. 96 to victory Monday in a KONI Challenge GS race at Lime Rock Park here, taking the top step on the podium over two sets of Porsche 997 drivers.
It was Gleason and Auberlen's second consecutive victory at this 1.53-mile, seven-turn road course nestled in the Berkshire Mountains. It was their third podium finish in the first five races so far this year.
Gleason advanced seven positions to take the car up to eighth place during his stint before turning the BMW over to Auberlen.
After a spirited battle with Spencer Pumpelly, Auberlen led the last 52 laps of the 138-lap race. He had a 3.760-serconds advantage over Pumpelly at the checkered to give the Turner Motorsport team its first victory of 2007.
Gleason qualified 15th in the 36-car field with a 59.997-second lap at 91.805 miles per hour. He dropped back a couple of spots initially to let the field settle down, and then became embroiled in a heated battle with Louis-Philippe Dumoulin in a Porsche 997 and Tom Nastasi in a Mustang GT.
He passed Dumoulin on lap five for 15th and got 14th a lap later. Lap six was the fastest lap he ran during his stint, posting a 59.985-seconds lap for an average speed of 91.823 miles per hour.
Gleason ran consistent laps of a bit over one minute around the challenging road course throughout his stint, despite running without a cool suit. Although it was in the eighties, Gleason forgo a cool suit to gain valuables seconds during the driver change by not having to unplug its connections.
Gleason was still in 14th place when the first yellow waved on lap nine about 10 minutes into the race when Fraser Wellon's Porsche 996 stopped in Turn 6 and Mark Ackley went off in the esses. Four cars got around him on the restart on lap 15 to drop him to 18th place, but he repassed two of them promptly to regain 16th by lap 18. He stayed in that spot for several laps, trying to pass Ross Thompson's Porsche 997 while holding off Tommy Costantine's Nissan 350Z. He was gaining on Thompson when he got 15th on lap 24 due to attrition, and rose to 12th two laps later while still running between Thompson and Constantine.
Gleason stayed in 12th for the next four laps but then advanced into the top 10 on lap 31. By lap 36 he was up to eighth, but he moved back to ninth when Thompson got back by on lap 37. He was in tenth place when the yellow waved again on lap 43 with about 1:42 remaining when Tim George Jr. ran into problems, and he was eighth when he actually pitted himself on lap 46 under George's yellow with about 1:40 left.
Auberlen took over at that point. The entry dropped to 20th after the pit stop but Auberlen was 17th when the green waved again on lap 52.
He moved into tenth on lap 61 with 1:19 remaining, and the driver who would eventually finish second, Spencer Pumpelly, was right in front of him. Auberlen moved into sixth on lap 65, still chasing Pumpelly, and the pair cracked the top five on the next circuit when one of the Porsches ahead of them dropped back.
Auberlen set his fastest lap of the race on lap 67, taking just 58.930 seconds to travel over the twisty road course at 90.043 mph while in fifth place and trying to catch Pumpelly. They both passed Bret Seafuse's Mustang GT on lap 70, putting Auberlen into fourth place.
After pit stops under a yellow on lap 74 Pumpelly was in the lead, Auberlen was second, and Andy Lally was third for the restart on lap 78 with 58 minutes remaining.
Auberlen was more than 3 seconds behind Pumpelly on lap 80, but he cut that down each lap and passed him on lap 86 when Pumpelly slid wide coming onto the frontstraightaway to take the lead for the first time that day.
Pumpelly wasn't done racing, however. He kept the pressure on Auberlen, and by lap 99 there was only 0.458 of a second between the top two cars with 38 minutes remaining.
Pumpelly cut that to 0.222 of a second on lap 100, but Auberlen was up to the pressure. With a half-hour remaining Auberlen's lead was a little over a second, which he stretched to 2.496 seconds on lap 124 with about 12 minutes remaining.
Pumpelly made one last charge with about 3 minutes left, but Auberlen had a 3.760-seconds lead over him when the checkered waved on lap 138 when the race's 2.5-hour time limit was reached. Lally finished third.
Gleason's post-race quote follows:
"At the start I was being a little cautious because I didn't want to get caught up in anything. It was great. We had about 15 minutes in when a full-course yellow came out, and I stayed out.
"The restart was good. I picked up a few cars. Bill was talking to me on the radio; he's my mentor. My times were always good, but a couple of those Mustangs were hard to pass. You couldn't out-break them, and there are only a couple of places you can pass at Lime Rock.
"I think I got up to seventh or eighth; we wanted to stay in the top 10.
"It was about 80 degrees. Before the race they asked me if I wanted a cool suit. I thought no, because it's just another thing to slow you down in your driver change. As I was getting close to the hour-mark I was thinking that cool suit would have been nice. There is nowhere to rest at Lime Rock; it's a very challenging course.
"It's so hard to win a race. The car has to be right; the pit stops have to be terrific, and you need luck. When it all comes together, it's a wonderful feeling.
"Bill is a very special guy. He knows how to win. He has a burning commitment to win. It's a special trait. There are a lot of terrific drivers out there but Bill is special because he knows how to win. He has the talent and the knowledge to execute. He's good company, he's smart, and racing with him is a wonderful experience for me. You can't do any better than winning!
"Now we have three podium finishes in five races. The next race will be the halfway point. Hopefully we can start the second half of the season well and continue to move up in the points."
-credit: restart communications