PWC

Sebring: Champion Racing preview

Galati & Pobst looking strong for Sebring opener. Champion Racing's latest Audi set for world motorsport debut in SPEED event. Reigning SPEED World Challenge GT champion Michael Galati and new Champion Racing team-mate Randy Pobst give their...

Galati & Pobst looking strong for Sebring opener.
Champion Racing's latest Audi set for world motorsport debut in SPEED event.

Reigning SPEED World Challenge GT champion Michael Galati and new Champion Racing team-mate Randy Pobst give their brand new Audi RS 6 "Competition" sedans their world motorsport debut at Sebring on Friday (14 March).

The Florida-based team have completely built up the new all-wheel-drive Audis on behalf of Audi Sport North America during a hectic 15-week program having received two "raw" bodyshells from AUDI AG in Germany last October.

"I am already very happy with the RS 6 - I think the Audi is immediately capable of top-three placings but we'll have a better idea of our competitiveness after the first practice at Sebring," said Galati (43) who has swept an Audi S4 "Competition" to the GT title for the past two years.

Pobst (45) commented: "The strengths of the RS 6 'Competition' will be its quattro all-wheel-drive traction and its twin-turbo power. The organising SCCA mandates that we weigh more than our rivals to compensate for our four-wheel-drive system but hopefully we can overcome that additional handicap."

After successfully "shaking down" the 495-bhp, 4.2-liter bi-turbo engined Audis in a three-day, 200-mile test at Moroso (FL) last month, Galati and Pobst head optimistically for the opening round of this year's SPEED series.

Pobst commented: "The test was an unqualified success. Having completed these racers ground-up in just a few months, they worked very well right off the trailer. The RS 6's permanent four-wheel-drive quattro system is quite a change from the Porsche I normally drive. It carries the majority of its weight in the front, and the Porsche had it in the back. The quattro traction is just fantastic."

Galati, from North Olmsted, Ohio, finished second in the corresponding Sebring race in 2001 but won last year's event. He added: "The initial test at Moroso made me very happy - the handling is very good while the car responded when we made changes to the shocks and springs. I also had another run at Moroso yesterday (06 Mar).

"I like Sebring and have a good record there. The track is a mix of fast corners and technical ones. The challenge is to find a good balance in the car because the track has so many bumps.

Pobst, who has competed in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1999, 2000 and '01, began his illustrious motor racing career at Sebring in 1985 which makes the 3.77-mile venue a something of a home-coming for the Gainsville, Georgia based driver who lived in Melbourne, Florida, for 30 years until 12 months ago.

"Sebring is where I ran my first race," continued Randy. "It was a pro-event and I finished second by a hair - a great memory and a great start to my career. Having lived over in Melbourne for most of my life, Sebring is like a 'home' track for me.

"Sebring is an old airforce base and is therefore flat. The layout has evolved over the years from a rambling runway-and-access-roads amalgam to a track that now features many random different corners. It is enjoyable and challenging - I love it!"

Practice sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, with qualifying on Thursday prior to the 50-minute race on Friday.

-cr/audi-

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Series PWC
Drivers Randy Pobst , Michael Galati