Rookie Kirberg takes first-career win in raucous Washington Speed Touring Car, WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 21, 2002) -- Rookie Marc Kirberg, of Corte Madera, Calif., took his first-career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car win Sunday...
Rookie Kirberg takes first-career win in raucous Washington Speed Touring Car,
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 21, 2002) -- Rookie Marc Kirberg, of Corte Madera, Calif., took his first-career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car win Sunday in a raucous event at the Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C. Will Turner, of Newburyport, Mass., and Mike Fitzgerald, of Phoenix, Ariz., completed the top three.
Kirberg started from the pole in the No. 37 SSF Imported Auto Parts BMW 325is and got the holeshot at the standing start over the No. 81 Team FBR/Trans Sport Lexus IS 300 of second-starting Fitzgerald, who dropped to fourth by turn one. Fitzgerald's teammate, rookie Tim Pappas, moved into second at the start, followed by the No. 92 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i of Turner.
By lap two, Turner was past Pappas into second, and pressured Kirberg, but could never make a solid bid for the lead for the remainder of the 33-lap, 54.813-mile contest. Kirberg's first win came by a margin of 2.970 seconds, averaging 55.553 mph in a race slowed by three cautions for 13 laps.
"This feels just incredible," said Kirberg of his first-ever win. "The competition is so tough here and there are so many excellent drivers. When I looked at the schedule, I knew that D.C. would be one of the races I could excel at, since nobody had ever been here before, something I've been dealing with all season as a rookie.
"I like the [RFK Memorial Stadium] track a lot. I didn't know what to expect coming here, but I'm very impressed with the facility."
Turner's run was satisfying, and the second moved him into third in the Championship hunt.
"We're really happy," said Turner. "At the beginning of the weekend, I had three goals; to make it through the beginning, the middle and the end of the race. When I arrived here and looked at the track, I didn't think I was going to make it. It is a very tough circuit on the drivers and cars."
Fitzgerald's third was the first podium finish for Lexus in World Challenge competition.
"I'm definitely thrilled," said Fitzgerald. "I've had the pleasure of driving for many of the top teams in sports car racing, and this Team FBR group is just incredible. We've had our hands full developing a new car, but the hard work has started to pay off.
"I had a horrible understeer during the race that I knew would start to go away as fuel burned off, but with the cautions, I wasn't burning any fuel. I was driving around in second gear with the car revving high during the yellows just to burn fuel."
Fitzgerald's teammate Pappas did not fare as well, spinning on lap 14 back to 36th before eventually clawing his way back up to 18th at the end.
Behind the lead battle, the action was tough, with contact putting many cars out of contention for top finishes. While no drivers were injured in any of the incidents, several teams will have to work overtime to rebuild before the next round at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, Quebec two weeks from now.
Turner's teammate, rookie Frank Selldorff, of Boston, Mass., finished fourth, followed by Chuck Hemmingson, of W. Des Moines, Iowa.
Peter Cunningham, of W. Bend, Wis., was sixth and made up considerable ground on teammate Pierre Kleinubing in the Championship battle. Kleinubing lost two laps in the pits as the crew replaced an ignition distributor, and scored no points. Cunningham now trails Kleinubing for the Championship lead by seven points (140 to 133) after entering the weekend 28 points behind. Turner is third, with 127, followed by Kirberg, with 119 and Taz Harvey, who recovered from an early incident to finish ninth, with 111.
Walter Markes Jr. won the B&M Holeshot Award for making up the most positions on the first lap (18), moving from 37th to 19th.
Today's race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel Saturday, August 4 at 4:00 p.m. (EDT).
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