MONTEREY, Calif. (September 9, 2001) -- Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., took his record 23rd SCCA Pro Racing Speedvision World Challenge GT Championship win today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships...
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 9, 2001) -- Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., took his record 23rd SCCA Pro Racing Speedvision World Challenge GT Championship win today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships Presented by Mazda, nearly halving Michael Galati's Championship point lead with two races remaining. Johannes van Overbeek, of Danville, Calif., and Jimmy Adams, of Suffolk, Va., completed the top three.
Though he started from the Superchips Pole in the No. 42 RealTime Racing Acura NSX, Cunningham found himself behind fourth starting Galati as the field roared up the hill from the standing start. Cunningham hounded Galati for the first three laps, before finally making a move to the lead. From there, Cunningham pulled away through the course of the 26-lap, 58.188-mile contest to a 7.543-second win, averaging 79.220 mph.
"I thought I had a pretty good start, maybe even a little better than [second starting] Johannes [van Overbeek], but then I saw that silver car go right by," said Cunningham. "Michael [Galati's] car is not only quick on the start with the Quattro, but it's also very wide. There could have been contact and I could have been less than nice, but I wasn't.
"I had a run on him in turn nine, and I was able to hold the power through 10, and got by."
Galati's No. 9 Champion Audi S4 Competition fell victim to van Overbeek's No. 81 Flextronics/Intel Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in turn 11. Three laps later, he spun in turn nine, falling back to 11th, and then 12th a lap later. He would finish 10th.
"The win is definitely a good thing for us going into Road Atlanta," said Cunningham. "I thought Michael would be able to possibly wrap up the Championship, but he had an off and ended up having a bad day. Hopefully, Atlanta will be a track that will work in the NSX's favor."
Once around Galati, van Overbeek held on to second place, but couldn't make an impact on Cunningham's lead. Van Overbeek has been the hottest driver over the last four races, however, with one win and three seconds heading into the doubleheader finale the weekend of October 5-7.
"Our team has been working well and coming together over the last few races," said van Overbeek. "Every race, it's becoming clearer and clearer to us that the DNF at Texas is going to hurt."
Van Overbeek sits third in points, with 187, behind Galati's 222 and Cunningham's 208.
Driving the No. 77 Motor Coach Industries Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Adams started sixth, but moved into fourth at the start. Once into the top three after Galati's spin, he had to contend with the Corvette of Phil McClure in the late stages of the race, but held on for his second-career podium.
"I was pushing pretty hard, and felt that I might be using up my tires, but still maintaining an advantage over fourth," said Adams. "Then, I got held up by a Pontiac, and McClure's Corvette really closed on me.
"It had to be some kind of General Motors conspiracy," he joked.
McClure, of Floris, Iowa, also had a great start from eighth to finish fourth and record his third top-five finish of the year. Rookie Bob Miller, of Oakton, Va., ran a solid race from ninth on the grid to finish a career-best fifth.
Mike Fitzgerald, who fell to sixth at the start, and then 11th after a nudge from Boris Said (who was placed on a two-race probation for the move), came home sixth, followed by Justin Marks, Jeff McMillin, James Sofronas and Galati.
McMillin, who started 13th in the No. 1 JJ's Snacks/John Hancock BMW M3 E46, earned the Borla Performance Award for his drive. Van Overbeek negotiated the Rogaine Hair Raising Pass of the Day on Galati, while Mark Kibort was selected as the Travel Quest We Make A Difference Award Recipient.