BGB CHAMPIONSHIP PUSH LASTS UNTIL FINAL MOMENTS OF 2008 (Ormond Beach, FL, USA - October 9, 2008) An already close championship got even closer during the final minutes of a fiercely contested Bosch Engineering 6 hour Koni Challenge Series...
BGB CHAMPIONSHIP PUSH LASTS UNTIL FINAL MOMENTS OF 2008
(Ormond Beach, FL, USA - October 9, 2008) An already close championship got even closer during the final minutes of a fiercely contested Bosch Engineering 6 hour Koni Challenge Series finale at Virginia International Raceway this past Sunday, with the biggest impact on the championship coming when an incident on track forced teammates Jon Miller and Craig Stanton to retire their #83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997 in 15th place, 5 laps and ten minutes from the end of the 155 lap event. BGB drivers Mike Piera and Guy Cosmo played an integral role in their teammates' championship efforts in their #38 BGB Motorsports/Analogman.com Porsche 997, finishing 7th as one of only 3 Porsches in the top 10. The #83 BGB Porsche 997 finished 4th in the Koni Challenge Team Championship and tied the championship winning Hypersport Mustang for most wins during 2008; the team's win at Watkins Glen with their #38 Porsche makes them the winningest team in 2008. BGB drivers Craig Stanton and Jon Miller finished 4th and 5th in the Driver's Championship, as the two didn't join forces until the 2nd round of the 2008 season. While Porsche didn't win the Manufacturer's Championship, BGB's 3 wins contributed the most to their finishing in 2nd place, 1 point ahead of BMW.
Returning BGB alumni Guy Cosmo qualified 3rd for Sunday's race, on pace as if he had never gotten out of the Porsche. Cosmo and his #38 Porsche were quickly joined by teammate Craig Stanton, as the two ran nose to tail for over 2 hours to start the race. A fuel issue in Saturday's qualifying hampered Stanton's qualifying effort, but he quickly moved up from his 9th place starting position. The strategy was to have the two drivers start both cars, rest for the middle of the race and return for the final two hours of racing. Mike Piera and Jon Miller executed clean stints in the middle of the race, allowing Cosmo and Stanton to return fresh to their cars, as if they had never left them. Jon Miller led during a restart in the middle of his stint to keep the car in the top five, despite some aggressive attempts by other cars without much to lose. Piera and Miller returned their Porsches back to their teammates in sound condition and well executed race strategy and pit stops placed the two Porsches next to each other on track again for the final two hours, running nose to tail as they had during the race's beginning. The two ran strongly through the field in an attempt to gain as many points and positions over the other cars that mattered in the fight for the championship.
Already known for being one of the most closely contested professional road racing championships in 2008, the landscape was still changing entering the final ten minutes of the longest and last race of the season. The race's penultimate caution period occurred just before the end of the 5th hour, with every car in the field coming to pit road for their final stop for tires and fuel. The traffic jam on pit road looked more like a morning commute up the Los Angeles freeway, and a staggered pit stop separated the two teammates. When the racing resumed, the top four championship cars were within seconds of each other on track, but each team was not without their own drama, continuing the excitement. Concerns about brake wear, running out of gas and fuel pickup issues caused all of them to slow, all but the Porsche of Craig Stanton as he continued on, pacing the leaders and pulling away from those that mattered. A hard charging Guy Cosmo was also passing the same cars as he proceeded to pad the points situation for his teammates. Knowing that he had to finish at least 5 spots ahead of the championship leading Hypersport Ford Mustang, Stanton was under orders to drive as hard as possible. At that moment in time, BGB was in 2nd place in the team championship behind the Mustang; fuel concerns for the Mustang however, meant that if BGB pushed even harder, first place was still a possibility, albeit a remote one. Renovated and re-opened in 2000, the 3.27 mile Virginia road course has seen some hard racing and concerns about the deterioration of the dirt around the track's exit curbing were raised in the driver's meetings prior to the race. Those concerns became a major reality for Craig Stanton and the entire BGB team as he rounded turn 10 for his final time of the race. The sharp curbing was enough to crack open the Porsche's engine case, causing the engine to lose all of its water and oil and ending the day for the team. Team Principal John Tecce added:
"With a few days to reflect, my feelings are a bit lighter now than they were following the race, but it's really is a hard thing to digest. I don't know if I'll ever get over it fully. With how things were changing at the end among the four cars, it would have been an unbelievable story, had we pulled it off. We had to go for it though. While 2nd place in the championship would have been amazing, and while it's nothing to scoff at by any means, we came to win the championship. Craig needed to go as hard as he could for as long as he could. We went with an alternative setup for the low grip situation, and it wasn't the easiest car to drive. No one else would have been able to hang on that long or could have done the times he was doing in the car, lap after lap. I thank our guys for our awesome pit stops, especially the last one. Craig came down pit road in 6th and left in 1st. You can't ask for more. We had all of the right race strategy, got some lucky help with a few caution periods, and our boys prepared two cars that ran perfectly for 6 hours. Our four drivers did everything seamlessly so that we could have two strong cars fighting at the end and that's what our game plan was. I'm happy to be part of such a strong effort and I'm proud of everyone involved."