Auberlen goes flag-to-flag to win Sebring Speed Touring Car. SEBRING, Fla. (March 14, 2003) -- Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., captured his second-career SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship victory in dominating fashion...
Auberlen goes flag-to-flag to win Sebring Speed Touring Car.
SEBRING, Fla. (March 14, 2003) -- Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., captured his second-career SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship victory in dominating fashion at Sebring International Raceway, leading flag-to-flag in his Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i. Pierre Kleinubing, of Brazil, and Roger Foo, of Hayward, Calif., completed the top three.
After smashing the qualifying lap record, Auberlen started from the pole position and led the entire 17-lap, 62.9-mile event, winning by 1.372 seconds with an average speed of 88.701 mph.
"It wasn't easy," said Auberlen, who will also compete in this season's SCCA Speed GT Championship with the factory BMW Team PTG effort. "This started months ago in testing, when we focused on developing the suspension further. This is the result of that work, as the car gained three seconds. Turner Motorsport really puts together a great car."
Auberlen led Foo's H&R Springs/Advanced Clutch/BBS Mazda Protege from the standing start, and slowly built up a three second cushion. Halfway through the event, Foo began to cut into the lead, dropping it to nearly one second.
"We have an aggressive setup," said Auberlen. "I started to run the front tires off of the car, and was experiencing lockup. Roger [Foo] would gain on me and then he would fall back."
Foo finally experienced fuel starvation in the final laps, allowing Kleinubing, driving the new RealTime Racing Acura RSX Type S, to capitalize and finish second.
"The start of the week was pretty rough, but the team found an electrical problem that was preventing the VTEC system from working," said Kleinubing, who won the previous two visits to Sebring in SCCA Speed Touring Car in the venerable Acura Integra R. "We've still got a little bit of development to do, but the car is definitely capable of winning this year. The RSX is definitely the way to go."
Foo held on to third with his new SpeedSport team, making his first podium appearance since his first career win in 2001.
"The team did a great job putting this new car together in just six weeks, and I was actually a part of that crew," said Foo. "With five laps to go, my crew wanted me to pick it up, but the car started balking. I did everything to keep it on the track for the end."
Mike Fitzgerald, of Phoenix, Ariz., finished fourth in his Lexus IS300, making four different manufacturers in the top four. With its win, BMW takes the lead in the Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine.
Paul Bonaccorsi, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., finished fifth. Foo's teammate Robert Baxter started 40th and passed 13 cars on the opening lap to earn the B&M Holeshot Award and Auberlen's teammate Frank Selldorff advanced 13 spots from his starting position by the end to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger Award. Robert Stretch, who had qualified fourth was forced to start from pit lane (last of 40 cars) when his car failed to start on the grid, battled back to finish 12th.
The SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car season opener will air on Speed Channel, March 29 at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern).
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