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Sebring: GT race report

McClure takes Sebring Speed GT win for Corvette. SEBRING, Fla. (March 14, 2003) -- Phil McClure, of Floris, Iowa, captured his first-career SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge GT win, and put Corvette on the top step of the podium at Sebring...

McClure takes Sebring Speed GT win for Corvette.

SEBRING, Fla. (March 14, 2003) -- Phil McClure, of Floris, Iowa, captured his first-career SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge GT win, and put Corvette on the top step of the podium at Sebring International Raceway, part of the Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Weekend. Mike Fitzgerald, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., completed the top three.

Driving the No. 73 Aggregate Industries/3R Racing Chevrolet Corvette ZO6, McClure started from the 1G Racing Pole Position, but it was front-row mate Pobst and fifth-starting Michael Galati who used the all-wheel-drive of their Champion Audi RS 6 automobiles to take the advantage, and the point, at the standing start. Third-starting John Young also went through, and took the advantage from Pobst on lap two.

Young's lead in his Contract Metal Products Saleen SR was short lived, as his motor expired going into turn one on lap three, allowing McClure, then third, to motor around the outside into the lead.

"When I went by both of them, I called into my crew to see if there was a caution," said McClure of the pass for the lead. "When I saw [John] Young slow, that's what I thought, but I was already committed and just went by, figuring we could sort it out if there was a yellow."

From there, McClure was able to motor away, to a 7.037-second win, averaging 97.785 mph in the 66.6-mile contest.

"It feels wonderful to win my first race," said McClure. "We've been doing this for three and a half years, and never lost hope with the Corvette. The move to the Toyo Proxes RA-1 race compound tire really has made a difference for the bigger cars, like the Corvette, the Saleen and the Viper."

Fitzgerald, driving the No. 22 1st Interstate Inn/3R Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup from the same team as McClure's Corvette, started fourth and had a solid run to second.

"We've been having some ABS problems with our car this weekend, and I actually flat-spotted a tire trying to chase Phil [McClure]," said Fitzgerald. "I tried to push for a few laps, but couldn't dent Phil's lead, so I backed off a little and held on for second."

Driving the brand-new Audi RS 6, Pobst was pleased with his third-place finish, despite getting turned around by the BMW of Bill Auberlen on lap five.

"I tried to hold the lead as long as possible, but when Young slowed, I thought there was a caution, so I lifted," said Pobst. "Phil just flew by me.

"We didn't have high expectations during testing and practice, but finishing on the podium in the first race of this car is excellent."

Austrian Hans Stuck, driving the BMW Team PTG, had a masterful drive after starting last from the pit lane, after a pre-race mechanical difficulty, to finish fourth. Teammate Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., finished fifth after recovering from a power steering failure that caused a mid-race spin.

Chevrolet takes the lead in the Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine for the first time since Round One of the 2000 season. Lance Stewart, of Miami, Fla., was awarded the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing from 32nd on the grid to finish 12th.

Today's SCCA Speed GT race will be broadcast March 29 at 5:00 p.m. on Speed Channel. The series next travels to Mosport International Raceway May 16-18.

-scca pro racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Randy Pobst , Lance Stewart , Michael Galati , Phil McClure