BRASELTON, Ga. (October 7, 2001) -- Peter Cunningham, of W. Bend, Wis., did all he could do at Road Atlanta, leading all the laps of the SCCA Pro Racing Speedvision World Challenge GT Championship finale, but it was not enough to take the Drivers'...
BRASELTON, Ga. (October 7, 2001) -- Peter Cunningham, of W. Bend, Wis., did all he could do at Road Atlanta, leading all the laps of the SCCA Pro Racing Speedvision World Challenge GT Championship finale, but it was not enough to take the Drivers' Championship, as Michael Galati, of N. Olmstead, Ohio, stayed on his bumper to clinch the 10-race series. Galati's teammate Derek Bell, of England, was third, as the duo captured the Manufacturers' Championship for Audi.
Cunningham started the 27-lap, 68.58-mile contest from the pole in the No. 42 RealTime Racing Acura NSX SC, but it was Galati who got the jump at the start. Knowing he needed to score as many points as he could, and take any away from Galati that he could, Cunningham made a bold move for the lead, taking the advantage in turn 10A.
"I needed to make sure Michael [Galati] didn't get a point for leading a lap," said Cunningham, who recorded his record-continuing 24th World Challenge win. "I had the draft and just went in as deep on the brakes as I could. We got the job done today, but it wasn't good enough to win the Championship. We had a great year, with seven poles and five wins, and it's a real tribute to RealTime Racing."
Galati kept his No. 9 Champion Audi Audi S4 Competition right behind Cunningham for the remainder of the race, and clinched his first Speedvision World Challenge GT Drivers' Championship, to go with his three Speedvision World Challenge Touring Car titles. Galati is the first driver to ever win four World Challenge Championships.
"Oh man. This is just fantastic," said an emotional Galati. "This Champion team did a fantastic job of working late on these cars. We really wanted to show that these Audis are a great performance car, as well as a great luxury four-door sedan. I just want to thank everybody. There are so many people who made this all possible."
Galati's finish also put Audi on top in the Manufacturers' Championship, by one point, 61 to 60, over Acura. Porsche, who led the standings coming into the final round, was third, with 57.
Bell, who recorded his first Speedvision World Challenge podium finish in three years as an in-car series commentator for Speedvision on Friday, equaled the feat today in the No. 8 Legend of Motorsport/Champion Audi S4 Competition.
"I like being up here, I forgot what it's like," said Bell.
Defending series Champion Jeff McMillin, of Erie, Pa., ended an oftentimes difficult season on a high note, with a fourth place finish. Justin Jackson, of nearby Alpharetta, Ga., was fifth.
Phil McClure and Jimmy Adams had a spirited race-long battle for seventh, resulting in them each winning an award, with McClure making the Rogaine "Hair Raising Pass of the Race" and Adams taking the Borla Performance Award.
In the end, Galati finished 12 points ahead of Cunningham (283 to 271), with Johannes van Overbeek (222), Mike Fitzgerald (215) and McMillin (203) completing the top-five.