SPEED GT and SPEED Touring Car Round 10 Event/Circuit: Labour Day Weekend Grand Prix of Mosport Mosport International Raceway, 2.459-mile (3.95 km), 10 turn road course Qualifying: SPEED Touring Car: ...
SPEED GT and SPEED Touring Car Round 10
Event/Circuit: Labour Day Weekend Grand Prix of Mosport
Mosport International Raceway, 2.459-mile (3.95 km), 10 turn road course
SPEED Touring Car: Saturday, Sept. 3, 11 a.m. (EDT)
SPEED GT: Saturday, Sept. 3, 11:30 a.m. (EDT)
SPEED GT: Saturday, Sept. 3, 4 p.m. (EDT)
SPEED Touring Car: Sunday, Sept. 4, 11:15 a.m. (EDT)
Television: SPEED Touring Car: Sat., Sept. 10 at 12 noon (EDT) on SPEED Channel
SPEED GT: Sat., Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED Channel
AMERICA'S PREMIER PRODUCTION-BASED RACING SERIES
The last several years have provided the momentum for the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Championships, and are now widely recognized as the most diverse and competitive production-based racing series in North America. With more than 15 auto manufacturers represented and a bevy of world-class drivers, the SPEED World Challenge continues to serve the interests of manufacturers, drivers and, most importantly, automotive enthusiasts and race fans.
REWARDS ARE NO REWARD
When is a success reward unappreciated? When it's in the form of a lead trophy in SPEED World Challenge's REWARDS program. While it has a wordy acronym (Rewarding of Equalizing Weight Assigned to Reduce Driver Sensitivity), the premise is simple. Should you do well and finish up front, it's going to be more difficult the following week because you're carrying lead in the passenger seat. First place adds 75lbs, with it reducing in 15-pound increments to zero at sixth place. It starts coming off in 10-pound increments at seventh down to -60 at 12th or worse.
WHO'S IT GOING TO BE IN GT?
Wolf Henzler ended a record-setting streak for the SPEED GT Championship in Denver when he captured his second win of the season. The win ended a seven-race streak of events without a repeat winner. Only Henzler and Tommy Archer have scored multiple wins this season. Drivers who could push the number of different winners in a season include series point leader Andy Pilgrim, a former World Challenge winner at Mosport, Leighton Reese, also a past winner at Mosport and the runner-up in 2004, defending racewinner Ron Fellows, who makes his 2005 debut, and Porsche factory drivers Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long.
WHAT TO WATCH IN SPEED GT
While still searching for his first win of the season, Andy Pilgrim maintains the point lead in his #8 Cadillac CTS-V. The model of consistency, Pilgrim continues to bang out top-10 performances despite large amounts of REWARDS weight. The Championship is tightening up though, and Pilgrim has company at the top.
Five points behind Pilgrim are two drivers, defending series Champion Tommy Archer (c3controls/3R-Racing Dodge Viper) and Robin Liddell (Pfaff Motors/AXA Financial Porsche 911 Cup). Both drivers have experienced both victory as well as defeat this season, but find themselves firmly in the hunt for the Drivers' Championship with just two races remaining.
Eight points behind Archer and Liddell is the current heavyweight in the class from a REWARDS standpoint, Wolf Henzler. The Applied Materials/Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Porsche driver comes off a podium finish at Portland and a flag-to-flag win in Denver, meaning lots of points, but now lots of REWARDS weight. Henzler has never been to Mosport, and will have an additional 200lbs of weight to steepen his learning curve.
While those four drivers are likely the only ones with realistic chances at the Drivers Championship, there are still race wins and a Manufacturers Championship (Presented by RACER Magazine) at stake.
Team Cadillac has bolstered its lineup of Pilgrim and "Mad" Max Papis with Mosport specialist and 2004 racewinner Ron Fellows. Fellows went flag-to-flag from the pole in the second half of the 2004 SPEED GT Mosport doubleheader, and would have been a factor in the first race, but missed the roll off onto the grid, meaning he started from pit lane.
With Cadillac enhancing its effort, Porsche is not sitting still in its quest for the 2005 Manufacturers title, which it currently leads by seven over Cadillac (52-45). Jon Groom, team principle of Jon Groom Racing has stepped aside of his Pfaff Motors/AXA Financial Porsche in favor of factory Le Mans/ALMS driver Mike Rockenfeller and fellow Porsche factory driver Patrick Long will pilot the No. 07 Farnbacher Loles team car to Henzler.
The spoilers in all of this could be the Chevrolet Corvettes of two-time 2005 pole man and Infineon Raceway winner Lou Gigliotti (LG Pro Long Tube Header Corvette C6) and Leighton Reese (Banner Engineering Corvette C6). Both have won at Mosport in the past, and ran well in 2004, with Reese leading Gigliotti to the podium in race two behind Fellows.
Sonny Whelen can clinch The Winning Team Racing Apparel Rookie of the Year award this weekend in his Whelen Engineering Corvette C5.
WHAT TO WATCH IN SPEED TOURING CAR
Like SPEED GT, SPEED Touring Car has become incredibly tight at the top of the Championship, with four drivers within 11 points of one another going into the penultimate round.
Peter Cunningham has led the way the entire season after taking the Sebring season opener in his A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX. At one point the runaway point leader, Cunningham's REWARDS weight mounted after starting the season off with five-straight podium finishes. The last four rounds have proven to be a struggle, finishing sixth, ninth, eighth and 10th, respectively.
Cunningham's recent struggles have opened the door for Randy Pobst, who has gone from being 45 points behind after race five to just five behind entering race 10. Pobst was the man to beat at Lime Rock, Infineon Raceway and Portland, taking two of his season-high four Air Force Reserve Pole Positions, a pair of seconds and his second win of the season in the last month. At Denver, he found his way to the front early, but fell outside of the top 10 due to a spin, and had to fight back to finish seventh. Not only has Pobst closed on Cunningham for the Drivers' Championship, but he's also brought Mazda back into the Manufacturers' hunt, now just four points behind Acura.
If it weren't for bad luck, Pierre Kleinubing could be leading the whole thing. The three-time Champion started the season off with a disappointing 24th at Sebring after having mechanical difficulties, but was the hottest driver for a period afterward, ripping off three-straight wins at Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio and Cleveland. However, early-race contact with teammate Cunningham at Portland meant bent suspension. He was, however, able to stick it out for a 16th-place finish. He too had a large amount of REWARDS weight on board for much of the season, but his eighth-place finish at Denver helped close the gap to Cunningham, now 11 behind.
While teammates Cunningham and Kleinubing have struggled with the REWARDS weight, RealTime's lead RSX driver Eric Curran has kept Acura in the Manufacturers race with three podiums and his maiden win in the last four races. After a third at Lime Rock, a second at Portland and his first-career win at Denver, Curran has tied Kleinubing for third, making it three RealTime drivers within the top four and fighting for the Championship.
Like SPEED GT, there are four drivers going for the Drivers' Championship, but there are plenty of others who plan to play spoiler or help their Manufacturers' efforts.
Jeff Altenburg, Charles Espenlaub and Dino Crescentini are three Mazda 6 pilots who hope to go to victory lane this weekend. Espenlaub had an amazing run from 28th to second in the 2004 race, and is the current race lap track record holder.
"Mad Dog" Matt Richmond leads a trio of BimmerWorld Racing drivers in their BMW 325i automobiles. Richmond is currently seventh in points and scored his first-career podium finish at Portland. Richmond's teammates James Clay and Seth Thomas have both been strong lately as well.
Brandon Davis (A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX) has seven-straight top-10 finishes going, and his consistency and strong runs not only have him sixth in points, but he has already clinched the 2005 Winning Team Racing Apparel Rookie of the Year honor.
While Acura, Mazda and BMW have been the cars on the top of the podium thus far in SPEED Touring Car, Chip Herr could change that this weekend, as his Air Force Reserve Ford Focus has been fast lately, including scoring his and Ford's first-ever Air Force Reserve Pole Position in Denver.
MANUFACTURER CHAMPIONSHIPS DOWN TO THE WIRE
While it appears that the Drivers' Championships will go down to the final race weekend in October at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Manufacturers' Championships Presented by RACER Magazine could both be decided this weekend. Porsche holds a seven point advantage over Cadillac in SPEED GT, meaning if they leave Mosport with nine or more points separation, they clinch. Acura holds a four-point advantage over Mazda (65 to 61), so it is a little tighter. However, they too can clinch by leaving Canada with a nine or more point advantage.
SPEED WORLD CHALLENGE AUDIENCE
No racing series today captures the youth market like SCCA SPEED World Challenge does and attracts new race fans to the track because of the relevance of its cars. These are the cars that people drive, or wish they were driving, and it has attracted a new demographic race fan to which no other series has catered.
Ron Fellows may be known as the "Mayor of Mosport," but from a SPEED World Challenge standpoint, Pierre Kleinubing is the king. Kleinubing seeks his World Challenge-record fifth win at the venue. Kleinubing scored SPEED Touring Car wins in 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2003 and also has four Mosport poles, coming in consecutive events in 1997, 1999-2001. Peter Cunningham is second in the wins list at Mosport, with three and he also has three poles, coming in three different cars (SPEED GT BMW M3, Acura NSX SC and SPEED Touring Car Nissan Sentra SE-R). Eight other drivers entered have won SPEED World Challenge races at Mosport, including: Tommy Archer, Ron Fellows, Michael Galati, Lou Gigliotti, Andy Pilgrim, Randy Pobst and Leighton Reese. 10 drivers entered have also won at Mosport in other series, including Jeff Altenburg, Archer, John Bourassa, Cunningham, Eric Curran, Fellows, Robin Liddell, Peter Lockhart, Pilgrim and Pobst. Those drivers have achieved nearly 40 wins in other series.
Several Canadians are entered for Mosport this weekend including, in SPEED Touring Car: Peter Lockhart (now residing in Florida) and Travis Walker (Mississauga); and in SPEED GT: Ron Fellows (Mississauga).
-scca pro racing-