Detroit, Michigan: Leighton Reese and the Banner Engineering Corvette completed their return to the Trans-Am Series by finishing 8th at the 18th running of the Detroit Grand Prix. Leighton and the team took a conservative approach to the weekend,...
Detroit, Michigan: Leighton Reese and the Banner Engineering Corvette completed their return to the Trans-Am Series by finishing 8th at the 18th running of the Detroit Grand Prix. Leighton and the team took a conservative approach to the weekend, since driving your opening race in a totally rebuilt car on a circuit lined with concrete barriers and tire walls can be a painful and expensive endeavor.
In a race dominated by pole sitter Paul Gentilozzi and his Jaguar, Reese, through much of the race, was in a tight, six car, grouping contesting for 2nd through 7th spots. Late in the race, while running a comfortable 6th, an ill-advised pass attempt by Lou Giglotti in turn six resulted in significant contact and spun Reese back to 9th position. GJ Mennen, rookie driver Derek Bell and Gigliotti all slipping past the Banner Corvette which was now pointed in the wrong direction.
Reese finished 9th on the track, but was moved to 8th, one spot ahead of Gigliotti, since the race officials didn't feel Gigliotti's pass attempt was a very good idea. "I was driving where I was comfortable with the car," said Reese. "I don't think we had a podium car today, but we contested for the top five most of the day."
"It was too bad," Reese commented about the incident. "I think Lou would have gotten past me eventually, but getting spun out cost me a few hard earned positions."
As to his personal fitness Leighton responded, "Physically I felt good. I worked out a lot to rehabilitate myself so I was ready. I didn't make too many errors and overall I was happy with the car."
"Joe (crew chief Kantarik) and the crew would have killed me if I wrecked the car," Leighton continued. "After all the time and effort they put in to get the car repaired after that big crash at Mosport. Now we can put in some much needed development work before the next race in Cleveland."
Reese took the green flag for the Motor City 100 presented by Johnson Controls in 6th position. Reese qualified 7th but 4th qualifier Randy Ruhlman crashed during qualifying and was moved to the back of the grid because the tires had to be replaced. Reese then spent the first half of the race with a group of cars contesting for 3rd through 7th spot. The group, including points leader John Miller, Tomy Drissi and Mike Lewis (all in Rocketsports built Jaguars), and the Boris Said Panoz. Gentilozzi seemed to have the field pretty much covered and only 2000 champion Brian Simo could contest for the lead.
In the middle of the race Simo slid back and he his Mangusta lead the group Miller, Drissi, Lewis and Leighton Reese, which was building a comfortable cushion on the rest of the field. This group ran closely together until Reese's "black and yellow" Corvette was spun back to ninth by Gigliotti.
The race ended with Gentilozzi holding off Simo for the win as Miller, Drissi, and Mike Lewis rounded out the top five. The race was broadcast in a condensed and tape delayed basis by CBS on Sunday. The coverage was good and the condensed format allowed the entire show to be broadcast in one hour. There was no coverage of the contact that dropped Leighton Reese and the Banner Corvette out of 6th position however.
The greatest issue of the weekend was whether this was the last running of the Trans-AM Series at the Belle Isle venue and Detroit. That issue will be resolved over the coming months, but one thing for sure is that the Trans-Am Series will be at the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland for their next race on Saturday, June 30th.
The Leighton Reese and the Banner Engineering racing team will spend the next off week doing some much needed development work on the car.