· Bimmerworld Picks up first win in ST
Lakeville, Conn (June 07, 2010) – Race fans at Lime Rock Park were treated to two GRANDAM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge races on Saturday as the Street Tuner (ST) and Grand Sports (GS) classes staged separate events for the first time of the 2010 season.
Both races on the 1.-5 mile natural terrain circuit, set with an idyllic backdrop of green rolling hills, produced close finishes as a long-time series competitor added a new trophy to their mantle in one class, while a new team joined the ranks of the victorious with their breakthrough win. Turner Motorsport, which won the most recent round of GS competition at Virginia International Raceway, is the hometown team at Lime Rock Park. Based outside of Boston, the team was first formed during some BMW club racing days at the track, and the Memorial Day weekend event was a huge one for the team as it celebrated its 200th professional race start.
That celebration kicked up a notch after the race, as the team won a thrilling battle to take its eighth win at Lime Rock Park to make for a story book weekend. A pit call to save time on the final pit stop saw Turner Motorsport leave Joey Hand on older Continental Tires to make up track position. The strategy worked perfectly as he emerged from pit out with a slight edge for second place.
That second place position became all the more important when the sister Turner Motorsport machine of Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana, which had a stout 15-second lead with just 15 minutes remaining, encountered a suspension problem in the high-speed Downhill corner and eliminated all hopes for a win. That development left Hand to charge to the win. But it wasn’t easy, as he had to fend off the advances of Billy Johnson, who was equipped with fresh Continental Tires.
“I went out and was just cutting a rug out there,” said Hand of his laps after pitting. “This place is just magic for Turner Motorsport, and it’s great to see so many fans here today, and especially to see so many Turner Motorsport fans here on the hill outside of victory lane. Every time I get in the car, I want to put on a good show and we did that today. M&M (Marsal) did a great job and handed me the car in good shape to run hard to the end. The Continental Tires were worn out, but they get to a point and stay consistent, so they still held right to the end of the stint.”
“I just wanted to give Joey a car he could win with, and he did just that,” said Marsal. “We had some problems in qualifying, but the team came back strong today and the car was just great. I’m excited to be a part of Turner Motorsport and especially on a day like today!”
The ST Class race also made for an exciting event with a lead change late in the race. Bimmerworld has made quite an impression in its first season of GRAND-AM Continental Tire racing, and that status got another boost on Saturday as James Clay and Seth Thomas combined for their debut win in the category. A late race caution eliminated the advantage that Compass360Racing’s Lawson Aschenbach had built up after leading 64 laps, giving Thomas a chance to take the lead.
"I had to earn it from Lawson," said Thomas. "The race-winning move came because of our brakes in Turn 1. I'm not sure if I could have caught him if it weren't for that last yellow, but regardless, we ended up winning."
"That last caution really, really hurt us," said Aschenbach. "We pulled out to a decent lead and I was just trying to hold on. When the caution came out, we knew the BimmerWorld guys would be tough. We did what we could; we got second, and scored some points."
The Grand Sport Driver Championship battle saw positions change, but still is razor-close as Turner Motorsport moves to the top with Hand and Marsal, as the Fall Line machine of Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman are in second place just four points back.
Just three points separate the top two teams in Street Tuner as David Thilenius and Lawson Aschenbach now have 155 markers to the 152 collected so far by Bill Heumann and Seth Thomas in the Bimmerworld machine.
It is a quick turnaround as the teams now have one week to be ready for the Continental Tire 150 at Watkins Glen International Saturday, June 5th.
Full results and story to be posted at www.grand-am.com
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With sales of approximately €20 billion in 2009 Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, Continental contributes enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently employs approximately 134,500 in 46 countries.
About GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
The GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge is GRAND-AM's showcase for the latest in international and American-made stock high performance sports cars, coupes and sedans. With major modifications permitted only to improve safety, the Sports Car Challenge is home to the same cars seen on streets and highways around the world every day. Contestants compete for both class honors and the overall victory. Series races are primarily run as the featured support events for the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
Like the Rolex Series, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge is made up of two classes of race cars. The big-bore Grand Sport (GS) class features a rules package that allows exotic international machines like the Porsche 996 and 997, Nissan 350Z, BMW M3 and others to go head-to-head with American iron such as the Camaro and Dodge Challenger. The smaller Street Tuner (ST) class is GRAND-AM's offering to the import and compact car crowd, with the Mazda RX-8 and Mazda MX-5, Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Dodge SRT4, Mini Cooper S, Acura TSX, a variety of BMWs and other models eligible. All Continental Sports Car Challenge classes run on Continental Extreme Contact tires.