Autobahn: Series GT race report

Pobst Takes Wild World Challenge GT Win at Autobahn JOLIET, Ill. (July 26, 2009) -- Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., won the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Grand Prix at Autobahn Presented by Blackdog Speed Shop Sunday, taking his...

Pobst Takes Wild World Challenge GT Win at Autobahn

JOLIET, Ill. (July 26, 2009) -- Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., won the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Grand Prix at Autobahn Presented by Blackdog Speed Shop Sunday, taking his first win of the season in an eventful race at the first-time venue, part of the Harrah's Autobahn Grand Prix Presented by Mazda weekend. Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Brian Kubinski, of nearby Shorewood, Ill., completed the top three.

Pobst started his No. 1 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 second on the grid, but was third, behind the polesitting No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 of James Sofronas and the No. 97 Tax Masters/Brass Monkey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 of third-starting Tony Rivera, as he exited Turn One. The entire race changed in one short straight to Turn Two for Pobst though, as he left Turn Two with the lead.

"Our little engine with a big turbo is a big question on the start," Pobst said. "With all-wheel drive on a standing start, we have a tremendous amount of traction, but we have a really small engine and it's not on the boost yet, so we just rev it up as hard as we can and bang the clutch home. If the wheels spin, we take off and we're in great shape. If they get too much traction, we bog, and I think that's what Andy [Pilgrim] and I both did. We bogged. By the time I finally got going, Tony Rivera had gotten by me and James [Sofronas] was gone.

"I got a good shot off that first corner. I figured 'now or never' on Tony, because I knew he'd be difficult to pass. I flat dive-bombed into the inside of Turn Two and that worked. Meanwhile, up ahead, James Sofronas got in a little hot and had a wiggle. I cut down inside of him, skimmed his mirrors and we were first! It was an amazing turn of events and a very important factor in the outcome of this race."

From there, Pobst stretched out to a 2.9-second lead over Rivera by lap five when a full-course caution came out to extract the No. 34 Kleinschmidt/Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette of Tony Gaples from the Turn Two tires after he experienced a stuck throttle. The lap-nine double-file restart would dramatically change the running order.

Pobst had the inside line going into the tight Turn One, with Rivera alongside in the first row. Dino Crescentini's No. 4 Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 and Davis' No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang Cobra made up the second row. As the cars made the middle of the corner, Rivera was backwards and the field fanned out, with Kubinski moving from seventh to second in his No. 12 Trim-Tex Drywall Products Chevrolet Corvette and Davis slotting in third after a trip to the grass.

In all, Rivera, Sofronas, Crescentini, Eric Curran (Chevrolet Corvette), Gunter Schaldach (Dodge Viper) and Tim McKenzie (Porsche 911 GT3) were involved in the incident, with the last three not able to continue with varying degrees of damage.

After the melee of the double-file restart, series officials elected to have a single-file restart on lap 12, and Pobst was able to get away cleanly and cruise to a 1.793-second win, averaging 67.295 mph over the 50-minute time-limited, 16-lap, 56.96-mile race. It was the two-time defending series' Champion's first win of the season.

"It has been such a monumental task for K-PAX/3R Racing to build a World Challenge GT car out of a Volvo S60 that can win races," Pobst said. "It's a development year. Our car is still new, but 3R Racing has done so much development, that it's really accelerated, but the car has actually handled very well from the beginning. Here at Autobahn, there are a lot of corners, and I knew that if there was any track where we had a change to win, it would be here. I am thrilled to be on the top of the podium for K-PAX Racing, for my friends at Janica Racing, who are from Chicago, and my agent Mike Stahlschmidt, who is also from Chicago."I'm glad we survived. We got whacked hard on the restart, but the car was still beautiful -- you could hardly tell. I was lucky I was still on the brakes when I got hit. Since I was still braking, he didn't spin me. I was lucky those Volvos are built strong."

Pobst also turned the D0x00e9baufr0x00e9 Fastest Lap of the Race with a 2:29.046 (85.986 mph) on lap four.

Davis was able to move past Kubinski into second on lap 12, and was pleasantly surprised with his result on a track he knew would not be good for his front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.

"If you would have told me I was going to be on the podium before the race started, I would have never believed it," Davis said. "Before the race started, I saw us getting a sixth-place finish, getting good points and moving on to the next round. To come out of it with second-place points is amazing and really does feel like a win. Randy [Pobst] did a great job of running the race though. Hats off to him, he was the man today."

Davis had a front-row seat for the first restart fracas.

"I don't know how else to say it other than Dino [Crescentini] helped us out a lot in the points today," Davis said. "He got into the back of Randy and then got Tony [Rivera] sideways and pushed us off onto the grass. I was upset about it, because I thought we were so far behind, but then I looked down track and all I saw was a Volvo and Brian [Kubinski]. I thought 'is that Andy? No, that Randy in the lead, so I guess we're third.' It was a great turn of fate for us and could really end up helping us out a lot down the line in the Championship."

Kubinski stood on the podium for the first time in his World Challenge career that has had both highs and lows. The 2007 Rookie of the Year started the 2008 season off with great promise, but a transporter fire destroyed all of CRP Motorsports equipment and severely damaged the racecar. The team has fought an uphill battle since, and for Kubinski, like Davis, he viewed the finish as a victory.

"This is an awesome feeling," Kubinski, whose previous best finish was fifth, said. "Standing on the podium's been a dream of mine since we started racing World Challenge in 2006. It's an honor to be racing with the No. 1 K-PAX Volvo, Brandon [Davis] and Eric Curran there at the beginning.

"I didn't do a very good job [on the double-file restart] at Sebring, but Nic Short, my crew chief, talked me through it. Today was good ole' short track, Friday night late model action; stay to the inside and park the car. I saw Randy get through nice and smooth, but then Sofronas checked up and everyone got together. Next thing I know, it's wide open. I just tried to follow Randy and stay ahead of Brandon."

Kubinski earned the AutoWeek Move of the Race for moving up from seventh to second on the restart.

Andy Pilgrim started his No. 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 fourth, but bogged on the start and fell back to ninth. On lap four, he spun back to 16th but picked his way through spinning cars and traffic to fight back up to finish fourth.

Rivera pitted his battered Porsche for minor repairs under caution and went from 13th to sixth on the lap-12 restart, finally working back up to fifth at the checkered flag.

Sofronas also sliced through the field in the final five laps, working back up from 14th to finish sixth. Following the race, officials determined a measurement on Sofronas' car required additional review this week. Results will stand provisional until that point.

Rob Morgan, who had worked his Porsche 911 GT3 up to fourth at one point, finished seventh, followed by Jeff Courtney's Dodge Viper.

Rookie Nick Mancuso made his first SPEED World Challenge start from pit lane in the No. 007 Lake Forest Sports Cars Aston Martin DB9, but advanced to ninth place and was named the Sunoco Hard Charger for picking up eight spots from his grid position.

Bill Ziegler, who was fifth at one point, nursed his damaged Porsche 911 GT3 home 10th.

Davis extended his World Challenge GT Drivers' Championship lead, with 598 to Sofronas' 555. Pilgrim remains third, with 539, followed by Rivera (537) and now Pobst, with 483. Ford closed on Porsche in the Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER Magazine. Porsche now leads by seven (38-31). Volvo moved in to third, with 27, followed by Chevrolet (21) and Dodge (15).

Sunday's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Grand Prix at Autobahn Presented by Blackdog Speed Shop will air Tuesday, Aug. 18, at 2 p.m. (EDT). The series next travels to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Round Seven, Aug. 7-9.

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-credit: scca pro racing

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Randy Pobst , Eric Curran , Rob Morgan , Tony Rivera , Brian Kubinski , James Sofronas , Tony Gaples , Tim McKenzie , Dino Crescentini , Jeff Courtney , Gunter Schaldach , Nick Mancuso , Bill Ziegler
Teams Blackdog Speed Shop , Global Motorsports Group