Curran Gets First Win of 2008 in Mosport SPEED GT Thriller CANADA (Aug. 23, 2008) -- After a heartbreaking start to the season, Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., claimed the second half of 2008 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT ...
Curran Gets First Win of 2008 in Mosport SPEED GT Thriller
CANADA (Aug. 23, 2008) -- After a heartbreaking start to the season, Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., claimed the second half of 2008 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship would be a fresh start for the Whelen Engineering team. Curran was true to his word, winning the Mosport SPEED GT Presented by Toyo Tires, part of the Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport. Championship leader Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., was second at Mosport International Raceway, followed by his teammate Michael Galati, of Olmsted, Ohio.
Starting from the pole, it looked like it might be another heartbreaker for Curran, who bogged on the standing start, allowing the No. 1 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 and the No. 5 Coastal Pet Products Inc. Dodge Viper of Jason Daskalos by as the SPEED GT field screamed into Turn One.
Meanwhile, back on the grid, the No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra of Brandon Davis sat motionless courtesy of a clutch failure. Course workers scrambled to remove the vehicle, which was pulled behind the wall just in time for the field to stream by.
Unphased by his start-line mistake, Curran was immediately pressuring Daskalos for second, pulling his No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette alongside Daskalos' Viper in the first corner on one occasion, but making the pass stick in Turn Eight on lap four. Curran reset the race lap record on that lap, turning a 1:24.194 (105.142 mph).
"The start was rough," Curran said. "We didn't get a good launch at all. The car was real slow off the line. I got it going and got behind Jason [Daskalos]. That car is strong and Jason's been driving real well. Coming into Turn Five, I was quite a bit quicker coming in on the brakes. I got a little too anxious and got into the back of Jason one time, he wiggled a little bit and it gave me an opportunity to get up alongside him."
His sights now firmly set on his first race win of 2008, Curran was already taking looks at Pobst one lap later. Twice Curran popped out on the backstraight in an attempt to pull alongside Pobst, but was unable to complete the move.
"Catching up to Randy is one thing," Curran said. "Racing with Randy and trying to get around Randy is another thing. We raced close. His car was faster in some places and mine was better in others. I didn't know what I could do with him. Trying to get around Randy is a difficult thing. He's such a clean driver and he doesn't make mistakes."
The first full-course caution of the 30-lap, 73.77 mile race came out on lap nine when Sean Allen's No. 24 GMG/BMC Group Porsche 911 GT3 got together with the No. 76 THR/Indeco/Hillview Vineyards Porsche 911 GT3 of John Bourassa in Turn Five. It was during this caution that Daskalos' Viper came to a stop on course, promoting Galati to third. Daskalos would get re-fired and continue, but eventually retire with mechanical woes.
On the lap-14 restart, Curran continued to stalk Pobst and resumed his attempts at a pass on the back straight, but slotting back each time before Turn Eight. Pobst nearly cracked under the pressure on lap 17 by running wide in Turn Five, but still somehow maintained his lead. On lap 21, Curran again pulled to Pobst's left on the back stretch, but stayed there to take the outside line through Turn Eight. The move gave Curran the inside line for Turn Nine and the race lead.
"Finally, I concentrated on getting a super run out of [Turn] Five B and got a good draft on him, got up next to him and I thought 'I'm going to see how sticky the outside of Turn Eight is.' It was a risky thing to do, but I knew the car was really good there and I stuck it on the outside, Randy gave me room and luckily the next corner was left. No contact, nice, clean racing."
Curran proceeded to pull away from Pobst until the second full-course caution came out for oil down in Turn Nine with only two laps remaining in the race. Though the checkered flag was waved in tandem with a yellow, there was little doubt Curran would have taken his seventh career win without it.
"The debris flag is not something you want to see with two laps to go," Curran said. "You never know how bad it's going to be when you see the debris flag. I saw the flag and sure enough, there was a big streak of oil. I went wide, I looked behind and Randy went way wide and I was like, 'oh no.'
"I have to thank Whelen Engineering, Marsh Racing and Sonny Whelen for putting this program together and putting me in the car for the second year. We had a tough start to the year, but it feels good to be back up on the podium and racing for wins again."
Crossing the finish line in second, Pobst scored his fourth podium finish of the season and protected his Drivers' Championship lead, as well as Porsche's lead in the SPEED GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER Magazine.
"On the start, I got a good, clean start and Eric [Curran] got away slowly," Pobst said. "We were able to get a little lead there and it was going great for a while. Eric got by Jason [Daskalos] and he ran me down in like one lap. I knew I was in for a battle. I'm really surprised that he didn't get me sooner. I did everything I could to hold him back. My Porsche was better in a couple of corners, and it helped.
"By the end of the race, it was Michael I was fighting. Michael's a racer and we don't have team orders, but he was good to me. He had a couple of good runs on me on the back straight and he pulled along side to let me know that he probably wasn't going to attack but I wasn't 100 percent sure!"
Pobst was especially concerned when he saw the nose of his Porsche pointed at the oil slick in Turn Nine on the closing laps.
"I don't know if my brain is just not very quick or the white Corvette was blocking my view but all of a sudden, I see this black patch and the tire wall looks wrong and I'm heading right for it. I just did what I do when it's slippery, I just hold everything steady and wait for the thing to start hooking up again. Fortunately, we survived."
"I had a shot at him and I knew Tommy was behind me," Galati said of Pobst's slide through Turn Nine. "Randy was trying to gather it back and I didn't know if he was going to shoot across the track so I let out of it. I didn't want to take my own teammate out."
Though he settled for third in the No. 23 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3, Galati did take home the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award for advancing a full three positions on the opening lap. It was the third top-three finish for Galati this year.
"I gotta give it to my guys," Galati added. "Will Moody and the K-PAX guys gave me a great car today. We didn't have a good qualifying. But in four-tenths, there were like seven or eight cars. I had an incredible start. I got to Turn One and was in fourth place and we took off.
"On the restart, I started closing up on Randy. Tommy [Archer] was pressuring me. I did not want to try to fight with Randy, as my teammate, and Tommy was too close for comfort.
"[Curran and Pobst] drove a great race. I had a great view. It was good."
While Pobst and Galati made their way to the winners' circle, Curran opted for some celebratory donuts in Turn Three. Having gone a full year without a win, Curran's donuts were in need of some work; the race winner tagged the wall and stalled.
"I guess I have the racing part of it down, it's the after race that I need to work on," smiled Curran. "I was trying to give the fans a bit of a show, and I did. I shut the traction control off, got the car out in the marbles, spun it around and touched the wall on the inside. The fans were going crazy, they loved it. We wanted to put on a show. Not the way I would have wanted to do it, but they loved it."
Curran walked up the track from the stricken race-winning car and hitch a ride to victory lane.
Winner of the previous two rounds, Tommy Archer of Duluth, Minn., finished fourth in the No. 13 Foametix Dodge Viper. Archer also finds himself fourth in the points behind Pobst (705), Andy Pilgrim (603) and Galati (541). Davis' DNF dropped him to fifth in the Driver's Championship with 517 points.
The No. 16 and No. 8 Remington Cadillac CTS-Vs of Michael McCann, from Canton, Ohio, and Pilgrim, from Boca Raton, Fla., finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
The Dodge Viper of Jeff Courtney finished seventh, just ahead of the No. 34 Kleinschmidt Inc./Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette of Tony Gaples, from Libertyville, Ill. Gaples was awarded the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing nine positions during the race.
Mike Davis (Ford Mustang Cobra) and Dino Crescentini (Porsche 911 GT3) completed the top 10.
Porsche continues to lead the Manufacturers' Championship by seven points over Dodge (43 to 36). Cadillac follows with 32 points, then Ford (28) and Chevrolet (21).
The Mosport SPEED GT Presented by Toyo Tires, Round Seven of the SCCA SPEED GT Championship, will air on SPEED, Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 1 p.m. (EDT).
Round Eight of the Championship travels back to the States for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Aug. 29 -- 31. For more information visit www.world-challenge.com.
-credit: scca pro racing