Speedvision World Challenge News 2000-03-24

One week away from the opening round of the 2000 Speedvision World Challenge Championships season-opener, the entry list for the event has eclipsed 80 cars -- 41 in the Speedvision GT and 40 in Speedvision Touring Car. The cars will run separate...

One week away from the opening round of the 2000 Speedvision World Challenge Championships season-opener, the entry list for the event has eclipsed 80 cars -- 41 in the Speedvision GT and 40 in Speedvision Touring Car. The cars will run separate races, although practice sessions will be combined, creating a crowded situation for the drivers on the 2.25-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway road course.

"We're thrilled to be a part of these American Le Mans Series and Trans-Am weekends -- it's a tribute to the hard work Don Panoz and Ralph Sanchez have done in consolidating great road racing on to one weekend," said Alan Wilson, Speedvision World Challenge Development Manager. "This is the first year of this kind of consolidation, and we're confident the event schedules will be tweaked in the best interest of the race fans and the competition they come to see."

Lead stories on the weekend include: the debut of new cars from Porsche (911 GT3 Cup), Audi (S4 Competition), Ferrari (355 Challenge), Saleen (Mustang SR) and Toyota (Celica GTS); 1999 Speedvision Touring Car Champion Michael Galati making the move to Speedvision GT; standing starts and their Speedvision World Challenge debut; two-time Champion Peter Cunningham's return to the drivers' seat, competing against his five-car Integra team in a BMW; the return of top road racers Boris Said and Elliott Forbes-Robinson to the World Challenge, and the debut of "rookie" Butch Leitzinger.

To follow the 2000 Speedvision World Challenge Championship season-opener, visit

SALEEN'S NEW CAR: While its Speedvision Touring Car Focus will not make its debut until later in the season, Saleen has been busy completing its newest Mustang-based Saleen SR for the Speedvision GT Championship.

Featuring a fuel injected, 5.8-liter V8 engine for the first time, the Saleen SR utilizes a factory Ford Mustang chassis, but provides its own bodywork, suspension and drivetrain components.

"We are very excited about the potential of the SR and the creation of our new customer program," said Marni Johnson, Saleen Motorsports Division. "Interest has been very high already and we are busy scheduling SR chassis for production."

Saleen also announced its 2000 Contingency program for the SR, offering $17,500 to competitors campaigning the new car. Three teams have already committed to running the new car, including 1995 IMSA GTS-2 Champion Jorge Trejos (AASCO Performance), Paul Brown (HP Motorsport) and Tommy Safar (Hidden Creek Racing/Tsunami Racing).

AUDI INTRODUCES SPEEDVISION GT S4 COMPETITION: Audi of America, Inc. today announced that it's motorsport division, Audi Sport North America, will be supplying turnkey S4 Competition sedans to customers competing in the Speedvision World Challenge GT Championship.

The S4 Competition will have four-wheel drive and four-doors. The cars are being built by touring car specialists Richard Lloyd of Audi Sport UK. The S4 Competition will come complete with roll cage, racing seat, Alcon brakes, specially designed suspension and a host of components translated from the British Touring car. The S4's will be powered by a European Audi RS4 twin-turbo, 5-valve, V-6 racing engine built to Speedvision GT specs.

"We have adapted our touring car experience to the Speedvision GT rules," said Richard Lloyd, Audi Sport UK. "We are keeping the rear wing, ride height is higher, the driver's pedal box is also adapted from the old touring car, the aero package is slightly changed - but the spirit of the car is the same. The car ran for the first time at Silverstone on March 17th, we think it has the potential to do the business in the Speedvision GT series."

Reigning Speedvision Touring Car Champion Michael Galati and Speedvision in-car commentator Derek Bell are slated to debut the cars at Lowe's Motor Speedway with Champion Racing.

"The Speedvision GT series will be a nice complement to our Sebring 12-hour winning American Le Mans Series effort," said Rod Bymaster, Audi Sport North America Manager. "The S4 Competition will also allow us an opportunity to translate some Audi technology head-to-head with our manufacturing competitors. We hope to have a handful of S4's on the track by mid-season."

ARCHER CONFIDENT AFTER TESTING: Defending Speedvision GT Champion Bobby Archer is confident in his Viper Speed team heading into Lowe's Motor Speedway, citing several off-season changes as being major help to his 2000 Dodge Viper GTS effort.

"Moving the shop from Michigan to Texas was a huge help, as were some rules changes, including bigger brakes and tires for the Viper," said Archer, who won two races en route to a one-point win over Peter Kitchak in 1999. "We want to win every race this year -- that's our goal."

Archer said the team has two more cars that will be ready for Round Two at Mosport in May, joining the No. 32 Archer entry and the No. 77 of rookie Jimmy Adams.

HAGESTAD RETURNS TO DRIVER'S SEAT IN VW EUROPE-BUILT JETTA: Bob Hagestad, a standout in Trans-Am and IMSA GT competition in the late 1970s and 1980s, will return to the driver's seat at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Hagestad Racing Volkswagen Jetta, built by Volkswagen Motorsports in Europe.

While Hagestad, who won one Trans-Am race in his career, will make his return, it is son Drew, 30, who will do the majority of the racing in 2000, taking over the reigns after LMS for the remainder of the season.

"I'm looking to build on my father's winning history and carry on the racing tradition in my family," said Drew Hagestad, who works as an automotive test engineer. "Main goal for 2000 is to consistently compete at the front of the field, looking to capture the Rookie of the Year title for the team and help bring Volkswagen to the top of US motorsports."

The car will be powered by a 16 valve four-cylinder engine in lieu of the VR6 motor to achieve a weight break. Engineers claim the car is capable of producing in excess of 200 horsepower, meaning it could be a serious contender in the Speedvision Touring Car Championship.

ALDERMAN MOVES TO TOURING WITH ERT BMW: BFGoodrich Tires Series Trans-Am veteran Paul Alderman will contest the entire 2000 Speedvision Touring Car Championship in the No. 50 European Racing Technologies BMW 328is.

"We were competing one of the 'concept' cars in Trans-Am, which didn't really allow us to run up front, like we felt we should," said Alderman, who also competed in SCCA Club Racing events in 1999, driving a Caterham Super Seven. "With European Racing Technologies and Alfred DuPont's team, we know it's a car proven to be able to run up front."

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Elliott Forbes-Robinson , Michael Galati , Derek Bell , Drew Hagestad , Paul Alderman , Don Panoz , Peter Kitchak , Richard Lloyd , Paul Brown , Peter Champion
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport