Miller and Traver Give BGB Porsche a Win in GS VIR Finale Hainer Takes GS Driver Crown; Turner Wins Team Title; Porsche Top Maker ALTON, Virginia (October 7, 2006) -- Mikel Miller and Tim Traver co-drove their No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche...
Miller and Traver Give BGB Porsche a Win in GS VIR Finale
Hainer Takes GS Driver Crown; Turner Wins Team Title; Porsche Top Maker
ALTON, Virginia (October 7, 2006) -- Mikel Miller and Tim Traver co-drove their No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 996 to victory in a wet and wild Wheel Enhancement GS Enduro presented by EMC Mechanical to close out the 2006 Grand-Am Cup Series GS season as Anders Hainer, Turner Motorsport and Porsche sealed championships after six hours of racing Saturday at VIRginia International Raceway.
The victory was the first in Grand-Am Cup for both Miller, Traver and the Florida-based BGB team that drove a smart and strategic race in cold and ultimately rainy conditions. The winners stayed in lead-pack contention throughout the six-hour race on the 3.27 mile VIR circuit but never looked back when Miller took the lead for the one and only time all day less than 45 minutes from the finish. Miller was trailing the race leading Automatic Racing BMW M3s of No. 90 Nick Longhi and No. 09 David Russell but slipped by for the lead when both BMWs pitted. Miller kept the Porsche up front for the rest of the race and crossed the finish line a comfortable 25.922 seconds ahead of Jeff Segal who co-drove with Longhi in the No. 09 BMW for Automatic's best finish of the season.
"This was a very challenging race, the longest race I have ever driven in and the first time I raced at night," Miller said. "Plus it rained at the end when we were racing in the dark and I saw cars go off everywhere. I radioed to the crew and said 'guys, it might be time to put rain tires on.' That worked out great and I can't thank BGB enough for giving us a great car and the perfect strategy."
Traver overcame his own challenges when he took over after Miller started the winning Porsche.
"I had a flat tire early on so I had to come in and get it changed but we stayed on the lead lap," Traver said. "The BGB team did a great job, the strategy for rain tires was great and Mikel did a great job in the rain. This win is kind of a monkey off our back. We have been there all season but things kept happening. Today's race was difficult and challenging like our whole year but to win in the final race, it was just amazing."
Bill Auberlen, who co-drove with Joey Hand and Chris Gleason, finished third in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 while their teammates Anders Hainer and Boris Said crossed the finish line in sixth place in the similar No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW. The sixth-place showing was good enough for Hainer to clinch the 2007 Grand-Am Cup Series Driver Championship and give the No. 97 Turner machine the GS Team Championship. Hainer and Said co-drove to victory in the No. 97 BMW for the team's sole victory of the season one race ago in Salt Lake City and the race car finished no lower than sixth place in the year's final seven races. Joey Hand (Trois-Rivieres) and Nic Jonsson (Mid-Ohio) also drove the championship winning ride in spotlight appearances during the 2007 season.
Hainer's championship is his first in Grand-Am Cup and he sealed the title after coming into the VIR finale with a one-point lead over his nearest rivals Patrick Long and Brent Martini who retired with mechanical problems late in Saturday's race and never mounted a serious title threat. Hainer's stiffest challenge came from the No. 49 Marcus Motorsports Porsche duo of Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly and guest driver Darren Law. Lally crossed the line ahead of Said in fifth place, but it wasn't enough for the championship. Hainer ended the year with 253 points, 17 points ahead of second place finishers Lally and Pumpelly. The points were identical in the team championship with the No. 97 BMW edging the No. 49 Porsche by the same 17 point margin.
"To be able to win a championship is just amazing and it feels fantastic," Hainer said. "I have such a good team behind me and such great co-drivers. I have won a few different things on a club level, but for a complete professional championship in a racing series, this is my first one. We overcame a lot of trouble today and I can't say enough about the Turner team."
The day was far from smooth for the No. 97 team as early electrical gremlins and an unintentional tap and spin by teammate Auberlen were both disasters averted.
"I was mad, red angry, because I thought that a Porsche hit me, but I just found out (in victory lane) it was Bill (Auberlen)," Said said, who was running second at the time with less than two hours remaining in the race. "At that point in the race I thought we had a chance to win because the car was fast. We had an electrical problem at the start that set us back but they were able to fix it. Then I just knew I couldn't be selfish and I needed to get Anders a championship. I was real conservative and conditions were pretty tricky to say the least. Conditions were pretty hard."
Russell and teammates David Riddle and Kris Wilson finished fourth in the No. 09 for their second best finish of the season after placing third at Mid-Ohio.
Porsche prevented a complete BMW sweep of the GS category by taking the Manufacturers Championship for the first time since 2004. Today's victory helped Porsche seal the crown after coming into the race just five points ahead of BMW.
Grand-Am Cup action continues tomorrow at VIR with the Bill Black Chevrolet Street Tuner Six-Hour Enduro that will end the ST season. The race starts at 1 p.m. ET.