Meanwhile outgoing champion Michael Galati brought his similar Audi Sport North America supported RS 6 home a season-equalling best second place, 1.324-secs behind his Champion Racing team-mate at the checkered flag in the 45-minute race. Pobst...
Meanwhile outgoing champion Michael Galati brought his similar Audi Sport North America supported RS 6 home a season-equalling best second place, 1.324-secs behind his Champion Racing team-mate at the checkered flag in the 45-minute race.
Pobst had scored the Audi RS 6 Competition's first race win at Road Atlanta in the previous round and arrived at the temporary 1.6-mile, 10-turn Isla Grande Airport circuit knowing fourth place or better would earn him title honors.
An additional point from his third "pole" start in the 10-race series meant Randy needed only a fifth place finish to beat BMW rival Bill Auberlen to the Driver's "crown" as the cars lined-up on the 20-car grid in overcast but hot (81F) weather conditions.
But all these calculations proved academic when "Randy the Rocket" blasted in to the lead and duly swept serenely toward a second consecutive, text book victory to wrap-up the championship with Auberlen a distant fifth - 9.5-secs behind winner Pobst who also set the fastest race lap for a "clean sweep", prefect weekend.
Galati, third on the grid, also used his all-wheel-drive quattro traction at the standing start to spear in to second place before Turn 1 from the second row. Never more than three seconds behind his team-mate, Michael finished the year off in good form after suffering from early season poor fortune to finish eighth in the series.
The Champion Racing team, supported by local Puerto Rican Audi dealership, Gomez Hermanos Kennedy for this race, switched from the ultra-successful S4 sedan first introduced in 2000 - earning Galati two Speed GT Driver's titles (2001 & '01) and Audi a Manufacturers' championship title (2001) - to the much larger RS 6 sedan for this season.
Despite a mere 15-week racecar build last fall and hardly any pre-season testing, the all-wheel-drive, 4.2-liter V8 bi-turbo Audis have proven to be a worthy successor to the S4 Competition model. Between them, Randy and Michael achieved two wins; three seconds; six thirds, and 13 top-10 race finishes in total from 11 front row race starts -- and of course, two championship titles.
Michael Galati (44). Born: Alcaralifusi, Messina, Sicily. Lives: N. Olmsted, Ohio:
Speed World Challenge stats: 79 starts, 16 wins, 40 top-3s, 55 top-5s, 67 top-10s.
"I made a great start and the race settled down quickly - I knew what I had to do in terms of the championships for Randy and Audi. I was able to close on Randy a couple of times but there was no point in running too close behind and get the motor too hot. The full course yellow allowed things to cool down a little but everything was getting mighty hot again by the finish - including me! I had a tough start to the season but I knew my ability and also always believed in the team. The Champion Racing guys have done an amazing job to turn what is a big, road-going sedan in to a race and now championship winning race car in such a short space of time and against fierce, season-long competition."
Randy Pobst (46). Born: Dayton, Ohio. Lives: Gainesville, Georgia:
Speed World Challenge stats: 24 starts, 8 wins, 19 top-3s, 20 top-5s, 20 top-10s.
"I'd opened up an advantage after the opening five laps and could see that the BMWs were not able to challenge us so I backed off and became more conservative especially as I had Michael in between me and Bill [Auberlen]. The engine and brakes were getting hot but that's not surprising in this heat but I had no real problems whatsoever - a simply perfect weekend. Winning the Speed GT Driver's title with a great manufacturer in Audi and the fantastic Champion Racing team is the pinnacle of my career. We won the Driver's and Manufacturers' titles because of the incredible reliability and performance of the Audi RS 6 throughout an intensive, tough season but which was always conducted in a positive but friendly and happy manner by Audi Sport North America and Champion Racing. I am truly overjoyed.
Rod Bymaster, Audi Sport North America Motorsport Manager:
"Who would have guessed we'd add to our 2001 Manufacturers' title this year using a brand new, undeveloped car against proven race winning opposition. Audi's success has been about being consistent throughout the entire 10-race season despite us entering the unknown at the beginning of the year with the RS 6 sedan. Randy was immediately picking up points while Michael suffered from abysmal luck which thankfully changed. Despite a lack of testing before and during the season, Champion Racing has continued to develop and fine-tune the RS 6 Competition in to what has become a race and title winning package. Combined with Audi's American Le Mans Series success for a fourth consecutive year, makes it another excellent motorsport year for Audi in North America."