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August, 19, 2008 – Opelika, AL APR Motorsport/Team Janica Racing #181 Volkswagen GTI raced to a seventh place finish at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres this past weekend, running at the front and contending for the podium the entire race.
The Pobst/White GTI ran as high as third place, while never dropping below position ten other than during a single pit stop during the shorter than normal 1 3/4 hour KONI Challenge ST race.
Great weather, combined with what is likely the largest and most spirited crowd for the KONI series to date, provided an electric racing atmosphere in what proved to be a very clean race (only one yellow being thrown throughout the entire session).
The weekend started well for both of the APR GTIʼs, with the #171 GTI qualifying in 8th position. Dion von Moltke, the18 year old South African star who teams with veteran Ian Baas, qualified the car in the 8th spot on the grid via a 1:15.155 flier on the last lap of qualifying. Unfortunately, on lap 12, a driveline failure caused the early retirement of car #171, while running in a very competitive 4th place in the field.
Dion on the weekend: “What an incredible track! My first street course and I can’t wait for the next one. Although I was disappointed at the mechanical failure, I was proud of our speed in qualifying and we were incredibly competitive all weekend. Ian really helped with set up and the APR team just keeps progressing. We are getting very close to winning a race and I look forward to getting back in the car in New Jersey.”
Ian Baas echoed Dionʼs points, saying: “We made huge gains on the setup this weekend. The #171 was a top contender for sure. I am anxious to get to New Jersey and apply we learned this weekend and hopefully get 171 back on top where it belongs! As always, Dion was ultra-competitive, qualifying an incredible 8th the first time on a street course.”
Mark White qualified the #181 GTI in 10th spot, a mere 7/100thʼs behind the sister #171 car of von Moltke/Baas, running a 1:15.222, in what proved to be a very competitive and close qualifying throughout the field. Like von Moltke, White pulled out his 10th place qualifier on a flying last lap that put he and teammate Pobst in a great position for a podium finish.
White, who drove the first 45 minutes of the race before handing the car over to Pobst for the final hour, advanced quickly through the field, passing seven cars in the first half hour of the race, putting the car in third place at the time of his handover to Randy Pobst. Pobst left the pits in 12th place due to the pit stop, but again moved the #181 GTI through the field quickly, making up three places in just ten minutes. Over the last forty minutes, Randy was able to make up two additional spots and secure the solid seventh place finish in front of the huge, raucous fans.
White said: “This is my first experience with a street circuit and I came away absolutely loving it! The start was an absolute brawl! I think the energy from the awesome crowd here in Trois-Rivieres must have turned everybody into a “tough-guy”! “Having the grandstands at turn one definitely inspires a driver to take no prisoners! Miraculously, Dion and I made it through cleanly and focused on getting to the front without using up the cars. Randy did a fantastic job, as usual. We both focused hard on conserving the brakes and he was able to wring every last ounce of performance out of the brakes.
White added: “The APR team put in a first class performance this weekend. It’s great to work side by side with these guy’s and get a solid finish. It will be fun to carry this momentum into Jersey!”
Pobst noted: “Three Rivers is an historical event on a narrow, walled, street circuit and is a great party with knowledgeable fans. Mark and I worked together to pace the use of our APR GTi brakes, and it rewarded us with a hard earned seventh. The team worked very hard and well, with a special mention for our car chief Wade and crew chief Jeff, making a terrific comeback after Iowa. The GTi will be better suited to the big tracks that will follow, so look out KONI Challenge!”
APR Motorsport next races at the brand-new New Jersey Motorsports Park on August 29-31, 2008.