Pobst Earns World Challenge GT Win At VIR

, Va. – Randy Pobst extended his GT Drivers’ Championship lead with his fourth World Challenge win of the season Saturday at the Race Keeper VIR Grand Prix presented by MTM Special Ops Watch at VIRginia International Raceway.

Pobst, who started on the pole when the GT grid was set by points after a red flag wiped out qualifying, rocketed away from the standing start and into the lead through the opening lap. Championship rival Kuno Wittmer gave chase in his No. 13 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Viper from his second position on the grid, and by lap four trailed by just 0.764-second after turning the race’s fastest lap in a time of 1:56.927 (100.678 mph).

By lap six, Pobst’s No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 had led the GT field into lapped traffic from the slower Touring Car class, which allowed him to stretch his lead to more than four seconds over Wittmer.

When rain began to fall on lap 13, the dynamic of the race changed again, with Pobst’s all-wheel-drive Volvo more equipped to deal with the loss of traction than Wittmer’s Dodge power. On lap 15, pushing harder than the conditions would allow, Wittmer spun and backed into the tire barrier in Turn 15. Wittmer was able to continue, still in fourth place, and held the position to the finish.

Given that breathing room, Pobst wouldn’t be challenged again on his way to a 6.882-second margin of victory. Pobst averaged 97.219 mph over the 22-lap, 71.94-mile race.

“My season has come down to the starts,” Pobst said. “My car has been kind of moody and today, it was in a great mood. I think I had smoke coming out of all four tires on the standing start. I was able to use the gap that I gained at the start to keep Kuno [Wittmer] behind me at the end of the straightaways. It made for really interesting racing. I was able to build the gap in the tight stuff and in the esses. My K-PAX Volvo was so fast in the climbing esses. I don’t think I slowed down at all.”

Pobst’s closest call came late in the race, when, on a run into turn one, he made the decision to split the No. 43 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX GTS machine of Peter Cunningham and the No. 40 Go 4 It/Gila Monster Racing Volkswagen Jetta GLI Touring Car of Carolyn Kujala. That pass earned him the MTM Special Ops Watch Move of the Race.

“My race was the opposite of what my teammate Andy’s was,” Pobst said of the traffic. “For me, this was one of the races where the traffic worked out for me every time. Every time I’d put a gap on Kuno it was because of the traffic. I caught the car in a place where they wouldn’t slow me down, and he caught them right into a winding part where you couldn’t pass.”

Behind Pobst and Wittmer was a battle for third that would become a battle for second after Wittmer’s spin. James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., and Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., started third and fourth, respectively, and pulled away together at the start of the race, with Pilgrim’s No. 8 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 leading the No. 14 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 of Sofronas.

Pilgrim gapped Sofronas early, but by lap 13 that gap began to shrink. By lap 17, the two were running nose-to-tail. With the rain falling and the track surface wet, Sofronas pulled along side Pilgrim under braking going into Turn One on lap 18, and powered by through Turn Two to hold onto second place. That pass also earned Sofronas the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race award.

Sofronas kept Pilgrim at bay through the remaining laps for his fourth-consecutive finish in the top four.

“From the start, it was not a good race,” Sofronas said. “With our launch control, we had an amazing amount of wheel spin. I just sat there spinning the tires and I saw all these cars coming up behind me. By the time I got traction, the top three were gone and I saw Jason Daskalos coming like a freight-train. He was coming to the inside and I shut the door. Apparently, he may not have had room and he hit me from behind. I’m not sure how far back he was, but my rear bumper was damaged. I almost spun and I looked in my mirror and he was spinning at 100 mph. I was just hoping no one collected him. I want to see the video to see what happened. You don’t like to have an incident like that.

“The car was evil in right handers after that. I couldn’t get the power down. I just got used to it. It was slight but enough to affect the Porsche. I did see Andy just get absolutely screwed a couple of times while I was not nearly as hampered. I was on his bumper and he’d lose me in the tight stuff and I’d gain on him on top end.”

As much as the traffic helped his teammate get away for a victory, it cost Pilgrim multiple times throughout the race.

“I can honestly say that was the worst race for traffic I’ve ever had,” Pilgrim said. “Some laps I lost as much as six seconds. It was just bad timing. You know, it happens to everybody. Sometimes in a 24-hour race, you’ll have a stint where you can’t get out of traffic and then you’ll have another where you don’t see any. It was just awful.”

Rob Morgan (No. 46 TruSpeed Motorsports/Querencia Porsche 911 GT3), Jason Daskalos (No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper) and Jeff Courtney (No. 99 Kenda Tire Dodge Viper) battled for most of the race before finishing fifth, sixth and seventh.

Daskalos rocketed away from his sixth spot on the grid and toward Turn One, but made contact with Sofronas and spun to the end of the GT field. After catching up to Morgan and Courtney, the three swapped positions over several laps at the end of the race before settling into their final positions.

It was Morgan’s best finish of the season.

Tony Gaples, Fred Roberts and Bill Ziegler completed the top 10.

With the win, Pobst now has 1075 Drivers’ Championship points on the season and has improved his lead to 191 markers over both Wittmer and Sofronas, who are now tied with 884. Pilgrim is fourth with 800, followed by Daskalos with 755. The win also increased Volvo’s Manufacturers’ Championship lead to 7 over Porsche, 68-61, with Dodge now at 42.

Pobst can clinch the Drivers’ Championship with a solid run in Sunday’s race.

The World Challenge Championships GT, GTS and Touring Car classes qualify on Sunday morning at 10:20 a.m., followed by Round 11 at 1:35 p.m. EDT.

For more information, please visit www.world-challenge.com

source http://www.world-challenge.com/

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