Champion Racing's Randy Pobst cruelly lost the Speed GT World Challenge series lead when he was forced to pit two laps from the checker at the Infineon Raceway [Sears Point], Sonoma, CA, today. Pobst had led the series for two months having ...
Champion Racing's Randy Pobst cruelly lost the Speed GT World Challenge series lead when he was forced to pit two laps from the checker at the Infineon Raceway [Sears Point], Sonoma, CA, today.
Pobst had led the series for two months having recorded podium positions in all previous five races. But a punctured right, front tire necessitated a pit-stop on lap 23 - less than six miles from the finish in the 63.25-mile event.
The characteristics of the tight, twisting and undulating 2.53-mile Californian track did not favor the Audi RS 6 Competition. The large and heavy, four-door Audi sedan was unable to fully exploit its powerful twin-turbo V8 motor around the 12-turn course.
Pobst and team-mate Michael Galati lined-up their Audi Sport North America supported RS 6 cars on the 24-car grid in fifth and ninth positions - the first time an Audi had not started from the front row this season.
As normal, both drivers used the Audi's stunning all-wheel-drive quattro qualities to the full at the green light and blasted in to second and fourth places respectively.
The race then followed the anticipated script with Pobst, additionally fighting a handling problem, and Galati gradually slipping back as their much lighter rivals drove home their weight advantage. Pobst and reigning champion Galati lay sixth and seventh with two laps to run before disaster struck for Randy - his misfortune earning Michael sixth place and his best result of the season - with Pobst recording 15th, one lap down.
The next round of the Speed GT World Challenge is staged at Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis., next Sunday (3 Aug).
Michael Galati (43). Born: Alcaralifusi, Messina, Sicily. Lives: N. Olmsted, Ohio:
Speed World Challenge stats: 75 starts, 16 wins, 37 top-3s, 52 top-5s, 64 top-10s.
"I made a great start and was up to fourth but Turn 1 - I just went through the middle -- but by the end of the lap I had lost three places. I then just paced myself and stay out of trouble. I was happy to stay behind Randy [Pobst] and help his championship bid but it didn't quite work out for him today. The full course yellow helped me in terms of my tires. Sixth place is my best result this year and hopefully this will launch my season."
Randy Pobst (46). Born: Dayton, Ohio. Lives: Gainesville, Georgia:
Speed World Challenge stats: 20 starts, 6 wins, 16 top-3s, 17 top-5s, 17 top-10s.
"After the start, everything went downhill from then on - but it was great while it lasted for half a lap. From early in the race, I had a handling issue and it gradually became worse. In fact I thought I'd got a puncture just before the full course yellow and I got Michael [Galati] to come alongside and take a good look during the caution period. Then the tire blew which was a big, big shame in terms of the title race. I've led the series since Lime Rock and I aim to get it back at Road America next Sunday. The Audi should be well-suited to that track."