June 15, 2008 – Bowmanville, Ontario APR Motorsport experienced it’s first top ten this weekend during what proved an event filled and fast KONI Challenge ST series race. The Randy Pobst and Mark White driven #181 APR Motorsport/Team Janica Racing VW GTi, which Mark White qualified 7th on the grid, finished 9th in class while achieving the second (Pobst) and third (White) fastest laps out of more than 60 drivers in class.
White started the race and ran cleanly and consistently, holding onto the 7th place qualifying spot until he was punted off the track in turn 1 at the 15 minute mark by the #57 Cobalt of Predator Motorsport. White, who was able to just keep the car off the wall, proceeded on, losing only one position. On a positive note, White turned the fastest time of the race to that point (1:34.908), just before the incident. Roughly 30 minutes later, under a double yellow, White pitted and turned the car over to the ever-fast Randy Pobst. Quality pit work and strategy saw the #181 GTi enter the pits in 8th, and leave in 3rd place.
During the restart, Pobst, who was now in 3rd place, was bumped on inside right rear corner of the bumper at turn 1, detaching the drivers side and leaving the bumper hanging off the back of the car. KONI Challenge stewards deemed this a safety hazard and Pobst was called to the pits with roughly 50 minutes left in the race in order to have the bumper repaired.
Reentering the race in 13th, Pobst saw three successive double yellows, taking up about 30 minutes of race time, quash his chances for making a run into the top five, something he thought was possible before the yellows. When the final double yellow ceased and the race was restarted with three laps to go, Pobst knew he had a top ten finish in the cards. Over the last three laps of the race, Pobst passed three cars to get to 9th place. Pobst had 8th secured for a short moment at the exit of the famed Moss turn, passing Peter Cunningham on the outside of the exit of Moss, but was promptly re-passed down the back straight by his fellow World Challenge veteran in the I-MOTO Racing TSX, leaving Pobst to finish in 9th.
White said about the race: “That was one competitive and aggressive race. I think our car was hit on each corner at least once, but the end result was worth it, for sure. I went out there with the attitude to gain as many positions as I can, keep my nose clean and hand the car over to Randy in as great a position as possible. I though our day might have been over when I was hit at turn 1, but I was able to narrowly keep it off the wall and the car seemed pretty much undamaged. My VW GTi really came into balance about mid race, just as we hoped it would. When I gave the car to Randy, I knew the car was good enough to podium.”
Randy added “We really had the podium in our sites. I was on cruise control in 3rd with less than 45 minutes to go when the crew notified me the officials wanted me to come in and get the rear bumper fixed. It’s really too bad, as I think I could have held that 3rd place and maybe even had 2nd, had that bumper not come lose during that incident during the restart. Oh well, those are the breaks. I must say, though, that I am just so happy with the development of the car. It was really neutral and balanced, something you really need on the fast sweepers at Mosport. The crew did a great job in the pits, as well. Any time you can gain positions in the pits, you know you crew did a fantastic job. Mark, also, did a really great job this weekend, both in qualifying and the race, and I really come away from this weekend with a big smile on my face, despite missing what could have been our first podium.”
The #171 APR Motorsport GTi had less success, but to no fault of the drivers. Qualifying 10th in class, the future looked bright for the Baas/von Moltke car as well. The bright side continued through the first 1.5 hours of the race, where the #171 GTi ran one to two cars ahead or behind the #181 of Pobst and White, offering what could have been a double podium and certainly a double top ten. Sadly, a mechanical problem in the driveline caused an early retirement while Baas was driving the second stint, about 30 minutes from the end of the 2.5 hour race.
Dion von Moltke, who qualified the car 10th and started the race, did a fantastic job of keeping his car impact free and picked up four positions during the first hour of racing. von Moltke proved fast, consistent and smooth throughout, passing many a Mosport veteran at his first outing at this wonderful and fast circuit.
von Moltke said about his stint and the race: “The car was so balanced and we had similar power to our competitors for the first time this season, so our prospects looked great. The racing was pretty clean where I was at and Mark and I ran together towards the front for about an hour, slowly picking off car after car. When I swapped spots with Ian, I really thought we’d be able to run towards the front (from his pit entering position of 6th place). Handing over a great car in a great position to a guy of Ian’s talent would leave any racer optimistic.”
Once in car, Baas immediately started setting laps equal to the top five cars, making up a handful of positions over approximately 30 minutes of racing. Baas had just caught the back of the leaders and was running faster lap times than all but his teammate Pobst and the first place car of eventual race winner Eric Curran (Georgian Bay Motorsport Cobalt), when a driveline failure caused him to loose all propulsion of the car.
Baas made it half way around the circuit, trying to limp the car back to the pits, when the car could no longer move under it’s own power, pulling off the circuit outside of turn six.
Baas said about the race: “It’s really too bad about the failure. The car was so balance and I was able to put down lap times as fast as the lead pack, whom I’d caught up to at the time of the failure. Frankly, I was really disappointed as I looked forward to racing those guys for position and think we had a car capable of fighting it out with them. While I’m frustrated with the failure of the car, I am happy with the balance and overall development of the car. The changes from race one to today (there have been three races) have been huge. It’s hard to even relate the car at Daytona to the car I raced today. Our crew has done such a good job making this car better. It just killed me to call them on the radio and tell them we were out. I really look forward to Mid Ohio.”
APR Motorsport races next at Mid Ohio this coming weekend, June 20-22, 2008. Team and driver sponsor, Team Janica Racing (www.teamjanicaracing.com), will be joining APR Motorsport at the race and will hopefully be bringing their good luck charms.
You can read more about APR Motorsport at www.aprmotorsport.com.