Lime Rock: Touring Car race report

Herr Victorious in SPEED Touring Car at Lime Rock Park LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 28, 2007) -- Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., collected his first win of the 2007 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship season in Round Three at Lime...

Herr Victorious in SPEED Touring Car at Lime Rock Park

LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 28, 2007) -- Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., collected his first win of the 2007 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship season in Round Three at Lime Rock Park, part of the SPEED Touring Car Classic. James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., and Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md. completed the podium.

As the start lights went out, Herr got a great launch in his No. 17 STaSIS/Clear Capital Audi A4 and beat polesitter Pierre Kleinubing into Turn One to take the lead. Kleinubing slotted his No. 1 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Acura TSX in behind Herr, filling his mirrors for four laps, before a mistake by Herr on lap five allowed Kleinubing by and back into the lead.

"I came into Turn Six and there was a car in the wall," Herr said. "I saw the marks and thought the accident happened at the turn-in. I turned in a little bit early and hit grass and dirt and got into a four-wheel slide and had to jump on the brakes. He just went right inside of me on the downhill. I almost put it in the wall. I had to back out of it and he didn't. He knows what to do, that's why he's good."

Shortly after Kleinubing regained the lead, a full course yellow came out when the No. 11 3R-Racing Dodge SRT-4 of Robb Holland and the No. 96 Tindol Motorsports/Pesco Inc. Mazda 6 of Charlie Putman came together in West Bend. Both drivers walked away uninjured.

On the lap 10 restart, it was Kleinubing with the great launch, going unchallenged in Turn One and slowly pulling out a lead over Herr, which reached 2.514 seconds by lap 16. Herr would not let Kleinubing get much farther however and trumped Kleinubing's fast race lap with one of his own as he closed the gap to the leader. On lap 26 however, Herr shot by a slowing Kleinubing on the front stretch. As Herr inherited a 3.207-second lead over Sofronas, Kleinubing headed to the pits.

"I said 'thank you' on the front straight," Herr commented

After a look under the hood, Kleinubing rejoined the field and finished 19th, the crew having cured the defending SCCA SPEED Touring Ca Champion's running problem.

From there it was smooth sailing for Herr, who took his fourth career-win by 3.211 seconds over Sofronas in the 44-lap, 67.32-mile race. Herr also set the fastest lap of the race, a 58.646 (93.919 mph) on the 1.53-mile road course.

"It feels great," Herr said. "I love Lime Rock. Every time I've come here, I've done well. This is a momentum course that takes a lot of guts and you have to know your car. STaSIS has really worked with me to get the car right and with a new teammate, we've been able to share data between the three of us.

"Pierre had a strong car and he actually started pulling away from me. I didn't know if I should try to burn the car up and track him down or risk having [Sofronas] catch me. I was going to be happy with a podium, but then Pierre had his problem and came back to me."

After picking off current point leader Altenburg immediately on the start, Sofronas played a calm and consistent race in his No. 29 Global Motorsports Group BMW 325Ci to equal his career-best finish of second, which last occurred at Road America in 2005. The finish also earned Sofronas his second straight Toyo Cup award.

"I really wanted to try to get a win for [Tecmark team owner] Walter [Swick], but second is obviously the next best thing," Sofronas said. "On the start, I got a heck of a launch and Chip closed the door and I had to lift or else I would have plowed him. He made a nice move.

"My car was loose in the beginning and it was a little hairy the first five laps, but Walter set the car up to be good over a long run. I was able to cut a couple of quick laps to try to chase Chip down, but it wasn't enough to get up to him. All the while, I had Jeff behind me, so I tried to click off my laps, hoping Chip would make a mistake, but he didn't."

It was an even finish for Altenburg, starting third and finishing third, but the current point leader had a close call with the No. 38 BimmerWorld BMW 325i of Seth Thomas on the restart. Thomas had the jump on Altenburg going into Turn One and tried the outside line on the No. 72 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda 6. The pair made slight contact before Thomas went off course in the Esses with a flat tire.

"On the restart, Seth Thomas got a great run on me and we went side-by-side through Turn One," Altenburg said. "The second part of Big Bend tightens up. He was on the outside, maybe half a car back and we made a little contact. I was worried my day was over, but it turned out it might have been the end of his."

The remainder of Altenburg's race was much calmer and the podium finish helped extend his lead in the Championship to 26 over teammate Randy Pobst, who finished 11th. With the win, Herr lies in third, 14 points behind Pobst.

"When Pierre fell back, that took a little bit of my aggression away. I don't know that I had anything for James--probably not."

Adam Pecorari, of Aspon, Pa., put two Audi's in the top five by wheeling his No. 19 STaSIS/Centrec Parts Audi A4 to a fourth place finish, a career-best for the SCCA SPEED Touring Car newcomer who also collected the Piloti Rookie of the Race Award.

After a long battle with the No. 97 Mazdaspeed/Tindol/Oakley/Sparco Mazda 6 of Charles Espenlaub, Peter Cunningham, of Grafton, Wis., captured fifth in his No. 42 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Acura TSX on the final lap when the Espenlaub ran wide exiting the Esses.

Espenlaub returned to the track in time to finish sixth, ahead of Kuno Wittmer (Acura RSX), Ian Baas (Audi A4), Michael Galati (Mazda 6), and Jason Martinelli (BMW 325Ci) who completed the top ten.

Stan Wilson, of Mount Joliet, Tenn., finished 13th in the No. 92 Sorted Performance Dodge SRT-4, collecting both the Sunoco Hard Charger and B&M Shifters Holeshot Award for advancing 10 positions in the race, five of which came on the start.

Mazda continues to lead the Manufacturer's Championship by 23 points over Acura and Audi, who are now tied for second. BMW is fourth, with nine points.

-credit: scca pro racing

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Pierre Kleinubing , Michael Galati , Peter Cunningham , Charles Espenlaub , Jeff Altenburg , Stan Wilson , Adam Pecorari , Chip Herr , James Sofronas , Ian Baas , Jason Martinelli , Seth Thomas , Charlie Putman , Robb Holland