Watkins Glen II: SFoW Maserati race report

Sudden Storm K-O's SRoW Maserati Quest For Podium Finish at Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N. Y. (August 13, 2004) The SFoW Maserati Trofeo Light was poised for a podium finish of the Rolex Sports Car Series season, during the Sahlen's 200 race...

Sudden Storm K-O's SRoW Maserati Quest For Podium Finish at Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N. Y. (August 13, 2004) The SFoW Maserati Trofeo Light was poised for a podium finish of the Rolex Sports Car Series season, during the Sahlen's 200 race at Watkins Glen International.

Then the lead-gray Upstate New York skies suddenly opened in Biblical proportions 45 minutes into the two-hour race. SFoW Maserati driver Steve Earle was one of eight drivers, a full 25% of the race's starting field, who crashed within seconds of each other in the same turn. Only one Porsche driver required a hospital checkup.

Earle, who had planned to share the Maserati with Emil Assentato, was noticeably disappointed over what happened, but was resolute in his optimism. "We had a solid third place run going when the skies opened-up," he said. "I saw a couple of cars slide off the turn into the Styrofoam barriers, figured the track would quickly go to full-course yellow conditions, and made an immediate decision to pit, change drivers, and possibly make up a full lap on the field."

It was at that point, as Earle slowed to make the 90-degree right turn into the pit lane entrance, that the Maserati "just took-off on me. I wouldn't have had any less traction had I been sliding on wet grass -- it was that bad. I hit the barriers, knocking off the rear wing and damaged a few other mechanical parts, then waited until all the crashing stopped," he said.

Assentato added the team, working through crew chief Glen Marquis, had uncovered a few additional horses under the hood. "We'd been hampered by no power on the top end of the revs," he said, "so Maserati re-worked the Electronic Control Unit and now we have a little more power so we can run with the Porsches. We've been improving almost every race, though."

Because the historic 2.45-mile road course was still quite wet following the second practice session on Thursday, Grand-Am officials canceled qualifying for the race, not wanting to risk any crashes. Thus, the starting grid for the three classes in the race was set on points, which put the SFoW Maserati sixth in the eight-car GT class, also comprised of six Porsches and one new Pontiac GTO.

Although the car was parked after considerable time was spent trying to repair the crash damage, the team was credited with a sixth place finish. The crowd watching the race was perhaps the largest of the season. Grand-Am was at Watkins Glen as a support race to the NASCAR Nextel Cup show. Since none of their cars turned a wheel on today because of the wet track, tens of thousands of action-hungry fans were glued to the fences to watch. The race was also televised on the SPEED Channel.

The team's next race will be Sept. 10-12 on Florida's Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Primary sponsorship for the SFoW Maserati team comes from Maserati of Washington. Additional support is provided by Simply Wireless, Inc., one of the nation's premiere wireless retailers; TubiStyle, the leading after-market supplier of exhaust systems for exotic cars; Putnam Leasing, one of the oldest specialty vehicle leasing companies in the United States; Tradition, a world leader in the brokerage of financial and non-financial products; and J.L. Earle, M.D., P.A. Orthopaedic Surgery.

Further information on the Maserati Coupe and Spyder, the Maserati Trofeo Light GT, and the SFoW may be found at www.MaseratiGT.com on the Internet.

-sfow-

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Series Grand-Am