Pobst and Galati survive a wild Atlanta race to finish K-PAX/3R Racing Porsches 3rd and 4th Braselton, Georgia (Friday October 5, 2007): Randy Pobst and Michael Galati survived the wet and wild Round 9 of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT ...
Pobst and Galati survive a wild Atlanta race to finish K-PAX/3R Racing Porsches 3rd and 4th
Braselton, Georgia (Friday October 5, 2007): Randy Pobst and Michael Galati survived the wet and wild Round 9 of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT Championship Series here at Road Atlanta to sail their K-PAX/3R Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars to a 3rd and 4th place finish as a starting grid melee and heavy rains decimated half of the field as just finishing the race became an accomplishment.
Both Pobst and Galati led the race at one point or other but when the race restarted for the final 10 laps after a red flag situation the Cadillacs of Ron Fellows and Lawson Aschenbach were able to pass the #22 K-PAX Porsche of Randy Pobst with Aschenbach winning the race.
"When we got going on the restart I went as fast as I dared but there were a lot of really slick spots out there so I was a little conservative in those places keeping in mind that I really wanted to finish the race for the championship points," said Pobst of the final 10 laps.
"The Cadillacs (of Fellows and Aschenbach) were a little quicker through those places and that is where they caught me."
Michael Galati, who had won the rainy Touring Car race earlier in the day, took the restart in 8th position and when he finally cleared traffic he was the fastest car on the track and closing hard on the leaders but Galati and his #23 K-PAX Porsche ran out of laps and Michael had to settle for 4th.
"When the race finally restarted it took me forever to get past two of those Vipers and I lost touch with the leaders," Galati said of his final 10 laps. "I started catching them up but I ran out of laps."
The K-PAX/3R Racing Porsches of Randy Pobst and Michael Galati got away from the starting grid in fine fashion which couldn't be said for the middle of the pack as a stalled car at the start caused a multiple car pileup that littered the pit straight with cars and car parts strewn in every conceivable direction.
When Randy Pobst brought the field back to the start finish line the course went full yellow as Pobst and Galati were in 1st and 3rd with Andy Pilgrim's Cadillac the meat in a K-PAX Porsches sandwich at the start.
The pace car led the race cars through the pits as the safety crews worked to clean up the carnage on the pit straight for the next 7 laps and when the field finally went green again on lap 9 the race went from the ridiculous to the sublime as the rain clouds which had soaked the Georgia countryside earlier in the day came back for a reprise.
Michael Galati slid past Pilgrim on the restart and as the rain intensified Galati passed his team mate Pobst for the lead on lap 10. And then it rained even harder.
"I got past Andy (Pilgrim) on the restart and when it started to rain I got past Randy (Pobst) and started to open up a little bit of a gap," Galati said of his lead in the race.
"But then it started to downpour and when I got to the top of the hill (into turn three) the car hydroplaned and I couldn't do anything. Fortunately I didn't go too far off (the track) and was able to gather it back up and get back on the track without losing too much ground."
"I took a very conservative approach because the championship was always in my mind," Randy Pobst said of his approach as it began raining. "I was very careful in the really slick spots and that is where the Cadillacs were able to get by me. I think the extra weight of their cars actually helps then in conditions like this."
After Galati went off the track he had had enough and visited the pits to have rain tires put on his #23 Porsche and have the defroster fixed. Michael returned to the track in 9th position and still on the lead lap.
"I just couldn't see anything," Galati said. "I couldn't see a thing out the windshield so I told them (his crew) that I had to come in. I had to look out the side window because I was having a hard time seeing the pit entrance through the windshield."
"When it started really raining hard the worst part was that it took me a while to find my defroster," said Pobst echoing Galati's concerns about lack of visibility. "The windshield got really bad and I had to look out the side window to see where I was going."
During the deluge a large pileup ensued in turn 3 involving both Whelen Corvettes (Eric Curran, whose #30 Corvette was extensively damaged, and Sonny Whelen), as well as the Vipers of Mike McCann and Scotty B. White and the Porsche of Tim McKenzie.
"When the water on the track gets to a certain level the dry tires simply hydroplane and that is what happened today," Pobst said of the declining conditions. "There were cars crashing into each other and I was really sorry to see so many good guys crash their cars with another race so close. It was terrible. I think that there are going to be a lot of good cars missing the next race."
"When I got back out it was a joke because there were cars hydroplaning and crashing everywhere," Galati said of his return to the action. "We were following the pace car around and there were cars on dry tires out there that couldn't keep up with the pace car.
"It got really bad because we had to drive around the wreckers on the track picking up all of the wrecked cars. The race should have been red flagged much sooner."
But finally the race was red flagged bringing all of the cars into the pits. This move was both good news and bad news for the K-PAX Porsches.
"The really bad part for me was that when they red flagged the race they let the cars which hadn't stopped to change to rain tires before change their tires and make changes to the cars and still we had to take the restart behind them," said Galati. "It was a bad situation for guys like me and Ron Fellows who had already stopped to change tires."
"The red flag allowed us to change to rain tires so that was a good thing for me," countered Pobst.
As the K-PAX/3R racing crew packed up their wet equipment and got ready to head west for the final round of the season at Laguna Seca they did so with mixed emotions as they felt that they had the cars to win the race in either wet or dry conditions but did not but on the positive side felt almost blessed to have survived a race that had claimed over the half of the field to crash damage.
"I was very confident in my car after qualifying and I felt that we had the fastest car on the track on a dry track and I really expected to race in the dry today," said Pobst. "On the positive side I am really happy to have finished third and to have maintained my lead in the championship. So in that regard it was a good race for us."
"It was a really frustrating race for me because we were the fastest car in the wet but we were never actually able to race for very many laps in the rain because we spent most of the race behind the pace car," said Michael Galati. "But the K-PAX/3R guys gave me a great car today but again it didn't work out for us. One of these days it is going to go our way!"
"It was a very crazy race," agreed Randy Pobst. "But either way I want to be sure to thank Jim Haughey, Bob Raub and Holly Connell and my crew chief Will Moody for all they do for me and this team. Those are the people that make this all happen!"
After Round 9 today Randy Pobst, on the strength of his pole position and 3rd place finish, maintains the lead in the Driver's Championship with 264 points to 260 for race winner Aschenbach and 247 for Andy Pilgrim who finished 7th. Michael Galati remains solidly in 4th with 237.
The win by Cadillac moves them 10 points ahead of Porsche (62 to 52) which moved ahead of Chevrolet which has 50. Porsche could mathematically still win the championship but Cadillac would have to get shut out in the final race at Laguna Seca which is unlikely.