Insane imports and American muscle battle as Whelen USTTC champions made.
Grabow beats Santillo to win round while
Bawden, Startare, Perkins and Greenberg Jr take series.
With four class championships on the line, the demanding and unforgiving layout of Watkins Glen International was the ultimate test of man and machine as thundering Vipers and Vettes faced off with whistling wastegates of boosted Subarus, Mitsubishis and Nissans for the final round of the 2012 Whelen US TimeTrial Championship (Saturday, October 20, 2012).
Steve Katz (TT-1, OnTrackInsurance.com Viper ACR) set the early benchmark with a 2:04.112. Not far behind was the only other driver to break in to the four second bracket in session one, Philip Grabow (TT-U, Element Tuning Subaru STi).
Local David Santillo (TT-U) immediately showed his Z06 Vette would be a contender, as did championship hopefuls Richard Startare (TT-1, Dezigns Construction Viper GTS) and Jeff Bawden (TT-U, Good Neighbor Support Services Viper SRT-10).
It was an early scare for Bawden’s championship rival, though- Michael Greenberg and his Greenberg Cheese Viper Comp Coupe left well down the order after issues plagued his first run.
Barry Dickson (Dickson Equipment Archer Racing Viper SRT-10) set the early pace in TT-2 with a 2:10.631 from Michael Perkins- the fastest of the class’s championship contenders- while fellow Vette driver Scott Mandel’s 2:11.394 (1st Class Alignment & Repair Corvette Z06) edged out the Nissan GT-R of Michael Hayes (2:11.673) to set up a great battle in TT-3.
Grabow began to find his groove in the second run, knocking three seconds off to top the timesheet with a 2:01.330 and putting him seven tenths clear of Santillo in the Unlimited class. Bawden was still solidly third after Greenberg again struck trouble.
Impressively Katz was still within two tenths of the fastest outright time in his TT-1 machine to maintain a two second buffer over Startare. However, with Startare’s biggest championship threat George MacDonald (LollyGirl Viper Comp Coupe) a number of seconds down the road, he may have just been playing the conservation game.
Dickson and Mandel continued to be the benchmarks in TT-2 and TT-3 as they reduced their times. However, the biggest movers and shakers in those classes were Michael McGinnis (TT-2, Subaru Impreza), Thai Diep (TT-2, MotorsportsPerformanceGroup.us Mitsubishi Evo) and the GT-Rs of Michael Hayes (TT-2) and Kaizen Tuning’s Scott McIver (TT-3). All four rocketed up the charts, with only two tenths separating McGinnis and Diep for the second step of the TT-2 podium.
While Diep sat the third run out McGinnis continued to push, shocking everyone by going fastest in class with a 2:06.648 on his second lap. With the first place trophy well and truly under threat, Dickson responded on his fourth lap with a 2:06.434 to stay TT-2′s top dog.
However, the biggest surprise came in Unlimited class with Santillo (1:59.935) matching Grabow (1:59.934) within one thousandth of a second at the top of the timesheet.
To set up a thrilling finish to the year, Greenberg was also back on track and only a couple of seconds within Bawden, while Perkins had began closing in on Mandel.
A thirty minute timed session was all that was left to determine the final four podiums of the year, and the 2013 Whelen US TimeTrial Champions.
Leaving nothing on the line, Daniel Raver (2:09.791) found a further sixth tenths in the final run, but it wasn’t quite enough to eclipse Michael Hayes (2:09.384) for second in TT-3. Neither of them had an answer for Scott Mandel, who also found another half a second to take the class win and set a new track lap record of 2:06.112. Mandel’s round win didn’t affect the outcome of the 2012 TT-3 Championship, with Michael Greenberg Jr taking that honor.
Dickson (2:06.224) also found pace to stay barely ahead of McGinnis (2:06.295) in the final run, but Diep came out of nowhere to eclipse them both with a 2:05.588. However, just as Diep thought he might be standing on the podium’s top step, Perkins (Target Air Conditioning Corvette Z06) showed everyone why he was a worthy class champion. Digging deep, Perkins extracted nearly four seconds to take the win with a 2:04.173, and cement his name in the history books with the 2012 TT-2 Championship and a track lap record. His performance relegated Thai Diep to second and Barry Dickson to third.
George MacDonald solidified second in the TT-1 Championship, and third in class, with a 2:09.187 in the final run. Richard Startare’s 2:03.525 from the second run remained his fastest time for the day to lock in second place and, more importantly, crown him the 2012 TT-1 Champion. Dominating the class, for the fifteenth and final round of the series was Katz. His 2:00.745 from the third run of the day not only taking the TT-1 win, but sending a clear message that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
But the big story was the battle for the outright fastest time of the day- a battle of bragging rights between a twisted tuner and the might of American muscle. To settle the score, Element Tuning wound up the boost on Grabow’s Subaru STi. As he lapped Watkins Glen for the final time, Grabow truly was in his element, going over 1.5 seconds quicker with a 1:58.404 to set a new track lap record and take the class win. With nothing left in the tank Santillo had to settle for the second step of the podium, while Bawden clinched the 2012 TT-U Championship by just seven and a half points over Greenberg with his third place finish.
Each of the class champions received unique trophies presented by Forgeline Forged Alloy Wheels and champagne provided by PartsRack.com, along with a complete Cool Shirt driver cooling system, GoPro Hero 2 Motorsport Edition camera set, $500 Moton suspension voucher and a TeamTech 6-point cam-lock racing harness of their choice.
The weekend also featured the US Performance Driver Education program and the final rounds of the US GT Championship and SRT Viper Cup- won by Whelen USTTC alumni Ben Keating.
Anticipation now builds for the announcement of NARRA’s 2013 calendar to be finalized shortly.
2012 Whelen US TT Championship Results
1. Jeff Bawden Viper 2150
2. Michael Greenberg Viper 2142.5
3. Philip Grabow Subaru 1240
1. Richard Startare Viper 2465
2. George MacDonald Viper 2265
3. Mansen Way Viper 2050
1. Michael Perkins Corvette 2470
2. Tanya Mazyck Viper 2130
3. Michael Oromaner Mitsubishi 2015
1. Michael Greenberg Jr SRT-4 1605
2. Ben Lesnak Corvette 1240
3. Mark Nunnally Corvette 1240
View complete race results and championship points table here.
Catch up with all the latest action from NARRA’s US GT Championship and Whelen US TimeTrial Championship, watch the highlight videos.