Kenney Enjoys Front-Running Jetta TDI Cup Debut Sterling, Virginia (April 28, 2008) -- Virginia's Liam Kenney was denied a potential saloon car racing debut victory on Sunday, 27th April, as he was taken out of the lead of the inaugural ...
Kenney Enjoys Front-Running Jetta TDI Cup Debut
Sterling, Virginia (April 28, 2008) -- Virginia's Liam Kenney was denied a potential saloon car racing debut victory on Sunday, 27th April, as he was taken out of the lead of the inaugural Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series race just two laps shy of the checkered at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Despite being classified 26th at the end of the 11-lap race, Kenney had highlighted his potential racing his way from ninth on the grid to the lead before contact from behind ended his day prematurely.
Kenney, along with 28 fellow Jetta TDI Cup Series competitors, kicked off the weekend's proceedings with a pair of 30-minute practice sessions on Friday. The 16-year-old Sterling resident, piloting the #35 ViON/Chik-Fil-A/Speed Secrets Jetta TDI then headed into Saturday's 20-minute qualifying session looking to secure a strong grid slot from which to tackle the sweeping 3.27-mile permanent road course at VIR.
Despite qualifying on used rubber and with the added distraction of a braking issue, Liam's best effort was still good for a top-ten start. Setting the ninth fastest lap of the session, a 2m15.484s (86.888mph), Kenney secured a fifth row starting slot with the maiden Jetta TDI Cup Series pole position going to Josh Hurley courtesy of a lap time of 2m14.301s (87.653mph).
As the field charged off the line on Sunday afternoon, heralding the start of the first ever Jetta TDI Cup race, Liam concentrated on avoiding trouble and passing when the opportunity presented itself. A couple of early passes allowed the teenager to climb the order before a full course caution slowed proceedings. With the first corner offering one of the best places for overtaking Liam took full advantage of his speed there once racing resumed and soon found himself up into third place. Taking second overall on the back straightaway Kenney quickly focused on narrowing the gap to the leader.
Liam seized on a brief mistake by the car in front to pull alongside and then edge ahead to assume the lead of the race. Unfortunately Kenney's time at the front proved to be short-lived as he was collected violently from behind by a rival under braking. A spectacular crash followed with the rear of Liam's car heavily damaged in the process, his race ending dramatically just two laps short of the checkered flag. Georgia's Mark Pombo went on to celebrate the first ever Jetta TDI Cup Series win.
"I can honestly say that this weekend's probably been the most fun I've had in a race car," Kenney stated. "I was very satisfied with how things were going in the race until the accident. Everything had been working perfectly and we were certainly looking good for the win if not a podium finish. I'm the youngest guy out there in the field and this was my first saloon car race so I can't complain about my performance. The Jetta's a great car to race; the key to being quick is to capitalize on the superb torque offered by its diesel engine. Volkswagen has really created a great looking series!"
Round 2 of the 2008 Jetta TDI Cup Series will be held north of the border with the schedule's sole Canadian outing hosted at the Mosport International Raceway outside of Toronto, Ontario, Friday 16th -- Sunday 18th May.