Team Cobalt Earns Grand-Am Cup Points Leads Cobalt Teams Place Five Cars in VIR Race's Top 10 ALTON, Va., April 22, 2006 -- Eric Curran put the Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged into the Grand-Am Cup series Street Tuner...
Team Cobalt Earns Grand-Am Cup Points Leads
Cobalt Teams Place Five Cars in VIR Race's Top 10
ALTON, Va., April 22, 2006 -- Eric Curran put the Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged into the Grand-Am Cup series Street Tuner class lead with three laps remaining and held on to win the VIRginia International Raceway event, putting Chevrolet atop the Manufacturers' Championship chart.
Curran and his co-driver, 18-year old Canadian sensation Jamie Holtom, also top the Drivers' Championship points after two of 10 races in the season. To get there, they defeated 33 cars from eight other manufacturers in the popular Street Tuner class. Three Cobalts finished in the top five, and all five Cobalt entries finished in the top 10, besting the 2005 series champion Mazda, the 2004 champion Acura, and the 2006 Daytona-winning Honda.
"We're just starting our second season racing the Cobalt SS Supercharged, and to lead the Manufacturer and Driver points is not only a thrill, but a testament to the ongoing development of their cars done by the three independent teams racing them," said GM Performance Division's Ken Wasmer, whose engineering team provides technical support for all Cobalt entrants.
"Since the season started at Daytona two months ago, our teams have continued to develop the suspensions in their Cobalts, especially in the area of shock absorber valving," Wasmer said. "The race today validated some of this work, but it was much more evident during the practice sessions. That was the only time all weekend we had a fully-dry track to work on. The rest of the weekend, frankly, was pretty ugly weather-wise, and undoubtedly affected the race's outcome for a lot of teams."
The win was Curran's fifth in the class, and ironically, his fourth win at VIR. It was the third career Grand-Am Cup win for Jamie Holtom, who also saw his father, Jim, finish fifth in the second Georgian Bay Motorsports entry, which he shared with Daniel Colembie.
Finishing fourth was the series rookie duo of V. J. Mirzayan and Jack Mardikian, driving one of the Team Cobalt California entries. That team's second Cobalt, driven by Tom Lepper and series newcomer John Trefethen, finished ninth. It was the first time Trefethen, Mirzayan and Mardikian raced at VIR. The fifth Cobalt, from Phil Malgren's Collision Craft team, driven by Ed Magner and Dave Thilenius, was eighth.
Mother Nature, for the second straight year, affected the outcome of the VIR race, showering the track in a potpourri of overcast skies and Spring-like temperatures, heavy and light rains.
"At least we had sunshine for Friday's practice," Wasmer noted. "Jamie and Eric's car was the competitive in both sessions, and with lap times that told us the development their team had done was working. It was the same for all five of our cars. But in cooler, rainy race conditions, you simply make tactical decisions and live with them."
"Qualifying was rained out so the starting grid was based on the Daytona results," Wasmer added. "We thought the race would contain much more dry running, but that wasn't to be. It rained, stopped, rained, stopped again, then finally stopped for good near the end.
"Because of accidents, the Safety Car came out before the first lap was done, and we basically had one lap of green flag racing over the next one-hour, fifty minutes. We went 'green' for four laps, then another incident, and finally we went green for good with six laps to go. Eric took the lead for the last time with three laps remaining. He faced some tough BMWs, Hondas and Acuras, but was able to get some clear track with no Grand Sports cars ahead, stretched it out and made all of us winners."
Cars from four manufacturers -- Chevrolet Cobalt, Mazda RX-8, BMW 330i and Honda Accord -- have won the four most recent races spanning the 2005 and 2006 seasons, as the Street Tuner class becomes one of the most competitive showcases for manufacturers of small, performance-oriented cars.
The VIR race will air on Speed TV, Saturday, April 29 at 1 p.m. ET.