Mid-Ohio: GT race report

Gigliotti Wraps Up Perfect SPEED GT Weekend With Win at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio (May 20, 2006) -- At Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, went flag-to-flag in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers Chevrolet...

Gigliotti Wraps Up Perfect SPEED GT Weekend With Win at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (May 20, 2006) -- At Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, went flag-to-flag in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers Chevrolet Corvette C6 to win the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT race Presented by Trenton Forging Quality Formed Solutions by 0.324-sec. over rookie Lawson Aschenbach, of Gaithersburg, Md. Michael Galati, of Olmsted, Ohio, finished third.

Starting from the pole for the 25th time in his SPEED World Challenge career, Gigliotti made a fast, clean break from the field at the start of the 29-lap race and was never seriously challenged.

Before the race, Gigliotti said it would take a full-course caution to win the fourth round race. It didn't appear that was the case as he turned consistent, fast laps to keep the rest of the SPEED GT field at bay.

Needed or not, however, he got his wish on lap 23 when a multi-car incident at Turn 12 of the 13-turn, 2.258-mile course sent the No. 6 Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette C6 driven by Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn., and Mike McCann, of N. Canton, Ohio (No. 82 McCann Plastics/K&N Filters Dodge Viper), into the gravel.

The incident also claimed Johnny O'Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga. (No. 16 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V) and the No. 76 Indeco Inc Porsche 911 Turbo driven by John Bourassa, of Jupiter Island, Fla. Reese, McCann and O'Connell were battling for fourth at the time of the incident.

Overall, Gigliotti said things couldn't have gone much better.

"Any of these guys will tell you, when you get the lead the idea is to win the race at the slowest possible speed so you don't break anything," Gigliotti said. "My car had a vibration from lap number one and I still don't know what it is. I was really worried that I broke something on the standing start.

"Before the race, I thought I'd need a caution to win. Once the race was going the way it was, I didn't want the caution at the end. The car was good and in cruise mode. I could adjust for the vibration I had. But, for all I know, if we went green the whole way, something would have broken. Something is wrong, so probably, the caution was a godsend."

Right after taking the checkered flag, Gigliotti slowed on the back straight during the cool-down lap, not from a problem, but in order to honor a friend.

"A few weeks ago, a really dear friend of mine passed away. I carried a small vial of his ashes taped to my roll cage. That's why I slowed down on the straightaway at the end of the race so that I could sprinkle his ashes. He always wanted to run a race. Now he ran one, he won one and he's at Mid-Ohio forever."

Aschenbach, of Gaithersburg, Md., in his No. 66 AXA Financial Porsche 911 GT3, never appeared to have enough to catch Gigliotti, even after passing then-second Galati while running the race's fast lap of 1:28.773 (91.568 mph) on lap 20 -- a new SPEED GT record. The runner-up finish, however, coupled with McCann's early departure, pushed the rookie into the Drivers' Championship lead with 104 points, just two ahead of Gigliotti.

"I really thought before this weekend that we could come in and have a very good chance to win this race," Aschenbach said. "But, it was just incredible what [Gigliotti] did in qualifying and what he did in the race. We'll take second place and we're leading the points now.

"It's our championship to lose right now. As long as we keep our head on our shoulders and keep continuing to have good cars, we'll be fine. We'll take second and head out to the next race.

"If we didn't have the caution, I think I could have caught up to Lou but I don't think I could have passed him. I was in a good rhythm before the caution and afterward, the car just didn't seem the same."

Mid-Ohio was the first 2006 appearance for Galati in a No. 24 At Speed Motorsports Volvo S60R. Galati said had turned only 10 laps on the weekend prior to Saturday's race.

"I got a phone call Monday night, asking if I was available to run the race, and here I am!" Galati said. "I had a good start and I was able to get into second. After that, I tried to chase down Lou [Gigliotti]. I tried to hustle him a little bit, but it didn't work too well.

"The brake pedal started to get a little long and I was pumping the brake pedal all the time. It was pretty tough. And then Lawson [Aschenbach] put pressure on me. He was right there."

Not challenging Aschenbach after the pass on lap 21, which won Aschenbach the B&M Oil Coolers "Coolest Move of the Race," was a decision made easier, he said, when a finish was the main goal.

"I figured that I had enough gap with the guys behind that if he went by, I'd still get a good finish," Galati said. "Our main goal was to finish. We haven't finished a race in a while. My hat's off to the guys. They worked all night. It's a great feeling to be here today."

Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., turned in a solid performance, moving all the way up to fourth in his No. 5 c3controls/Autohaus Dodge Viper after starting 13th. Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., avoided the messy Turn 13 and finished fifth in his No. 1 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V.

Bob Woodhouse, of Blair, Neb., won the Sunoco Hard Charger award after advancing 19 position to finish 10th.

Aschenbach also earned the Piloti Rookie of the Race award as the top finishing rookie.

Behind Aschenbach's 104 points and Gigliotti's 102, Andy Pilgrim is in third in the point standings with 89, trailed by McCann (80) and Woodhouse (77).

Cadillac continues to lead the SPEED GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine, leading Dodge 25-21. Porsche is third with 21 points, and Chevrolet has 19.

The SPEED GT race, part of the SPEED World Challenge Presented by Trenton Forging Quality Formed Solutions weekend, will be broadcast Saturday, May 27, at 9 p.m. (EDT).

-scca pro racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim , Tommy Archer , Leighton Reese , Lawson Aschenbach , John Bourassa , Michael Galati , Lou Gigliotti , Bob Woodhouse