Stanton Leads BGB Motorsports, KONI Challenge Series Return to Action This Weekend at Lime Rock Park
Grand-Am KONI Challenge GS, ST divisions will race for first time since January
Craig Stanton started off his 2008 season in style in January’s Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway, winning the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series race on the 3.56-mile track, the first of 10 races for the Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) divisions. However, that was nearly four months ago.
Since then, the Long Beach, Calif. native and former Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 GT champion has competed in multiple Rolex Series races. This weekend, he’ll lead the KONI Challenge Series back to action for the first time since Jan. 25, as the GS and ST classes will run in separate events this weekend at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. The ST race is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, while the GS race will take the green flag at 9:45 a.m. Monday. Both races are scheduled for two and a half hours.
Stanton, who combined to win the three-hour race at Daytona with Tim Traver in the No. 83 BGB Motorsports PerformanceDrink.com Porsche 997, leads the GS standings heading into Lime Rock with 34 other GS cars scheduled to take the green flag during the traditional Memorial Day Weekend event. This weekend, Stanton will co-drive with Jon Miller, who joined the team following the Daytona event. Miller led a race-high 28 laps while driving for Automatic Racing.
“I’m really excited to get back in the BGB Porsche,” Stanton said. “The guys have worked hard on the cars in the interim and we’ve been testing. Jon Miller was up to speed immediately. Our car last year was very good here and I have no reason to think that it won’t be this year.”
Stanton moved from the team’s No. 83 to the No. 38 just before the Daytona race. Team BGB was also expected to field the No. 38 The Room Store Porsche 997 – with drivers David Murry and Daniel Selznick – but work conflicts have prohibited that from happening.
If Stanton – who finished fourth in the GS driver point standings in 2007 – and BGB – which finished third in the team points last season – want to extend their early leads, they’ll have to contend with the likes of one the series’ best drivers and teams. Turner Motorsport, which calls the Boston, Mass., area home and Lime Rock its home track, has won both KONI Challenge GS races, and both with drivers Bill Auberlen and Chris Gleason. Auberlen returns to the No. 96 BMW M3 this weekend with Matthew Alhadeff. Don Salama, a longtime driver of the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 who hails from the Boston area, will drive at Lime Rock with second-year pilot Bryan Ortiz. Salama owns the ST track qualifying record.
The Ford Mustangs ran strong at Daytona, taking three of the top six positions and leading 32 of the race’s 76 laps. Joe Foster brings his Hyper Sport Columbus Truck & Equipment Ford Mustang to Lime Rock after finishing second at Daytona with co-driver Scott Maxwell, a former KONI GS-I champ. Meanwhile, Blackforest Motorsports’ Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Tom Nastasi will drive the No. 5 USG/Dewalt Ford Mustang, and Rehagen Racing will field three cars, including the No. 60 Sunset Hills Vineyard Ford Mustang GT with drivers Hugh Plumb and Mike Canney. Both drivers were born in the Northeast – Plumb in Delaware and Canney in Massachusetts.
Automatic Racing, which has four cars entered at Lime Rock, earned two top 10s in 2007, while TRG has two cars entered for Lime Rock after taking third and fourth last year. Spencer Pumpelly, who finished second last year at Lime Rock, will run the No. 39 TRG DigiTrust Group Porsche 997 with Duncan Ende, who was fourth. Other multi-car efforts come from Motorsport Technology Group, C-MAX/Unitech Racing, Playboy Racing/Fall-Line, Maxwell Paper Racing, Kinetic Motorsports and Ranger Sports Racing.
Four Drivers Tied With 30 Points in ST Driver Standings
They didn’t win at Daytona, but Canadians and Compass360 Racing drivers Karl Thomson and Travis Walker have the same number of points as Daytona ST co-winners Glenn Bocchino and Nick Wittmer in the driver standings heading to Lime Rock. Thomson and Walker finished third at Daytona behind a one-two sweep for i-MOTO Racing, though both of i-MOTO Racing’s Acura TSXs and all four drivers – owner Bocchino, Peter Cunningham and Nick and brother Kuno Wittmer – were docked five points for post-race technical infractions.
Thomson brings a four-car assault to Lime Rock in an effort to take the point lead outright from Bocchino and Nick Wittmer, who have both i-MOTO Racing Acuras entered for the race. Thomson and Walker will debut the No. 76 Skunk2/K&N Honda Civic Si after sharing an Acura TSX at Daytona. Defending series champions Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood will drive the team’s No. 74 Skunk2/Fischer Skis Acura TSX. Burrows hails from Canton, Conn., while Hopwood calls Lee, N.H., home. Both drivers have also landed a GS ride for this weekend with Kinetic Motorsports.
“We're hoping to have another great result like Daytona, with all of our cars in the top 10,” Thomson said. “That was with three cars, and now we've added a fourth, so it'll be a tall order! Last year's champs have always been fast at Lime Rock – it's their home track. Plus we'll get a chance to see how our new Civic stacks up. It's been a long time since Daytona, but I know our crew and drivers are ready!”
Defending race winners Chuck Hemmingson and Kristian Skavnes will run half of the ICY/Phoenix Racing’s two-car Subaru Legacy effort. Skavnes led the final 20 laps of last year’s race for Subaru’s first career KONI Challenge Series victory. The pair drives the No. 111 Subaru of America Legacy, and are teammates to Andrew Aquilante – who led a race-high 36 laps at Lime Rock last year – and veteran racer Don Knowles.
Several other multi-car teams, including many from New England and other areas of the Northeast, have cars entered. Bill Fenton Motorsports, based in New Hampshire, has also moved from the Acuras to the Honda Civic Si machines after a fourth-place finish with Todd Lamb and David Thilenius at Daytona. The duo finished third last year at Lime Rock. Fountain Motorsports is based in upstate New York and brings three BMW 330i’s to Lime Rock. Two of the team’s six entered drivers are from New England – Bob Newman of Roxbury, Conn., and Laurence Oliva of Dover, N.H.
Other multi-car teams include Georgian Bay Motorsports, Meyer Motorsports, Brass Mitchell Racing, Roar Racing, Classic BMW-Plano, Freedom Autosport, APR Motorsport and RSR Motorsports.
- This is Round 2 for the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series. Both Grand Sport and Street Tuner races are scheduled for two-and-a-half hours.
- The green flag for the GS race is scheduled to fly at 9:45 a.m. Monday ET. The race will air on SPEED (8 p.m. Saturday, May 31; Brian Till – Play-by-Play; Dorsey Schroeder – Analyst; Calvin Fish, Chris Neville – Pit Reporters).
- 2007 Lime Rock Park race winners were Bill Auberlen and Chris Gleason (Grand Sport), and Kristian Skavnes and Chuck Hemmingson (Street Tuner).
KONI CHALLENGE SERIES WEEKEND SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EASTERN)
- Friday: KONI Challenge ST Practice (10:40-11:10 a.m.); KONI Challenge GS Practice (11:20-11:50 a.m.); KONI Challenge ST Practice (2:15-2:45 p.m.); KONI Challenge GS Practice (2:55-3:25 p.m.)
- Saturday: KONI Challenge ST Practice (9:45-10:05 a.m.); KONI Challenge GS Practice (10:15-10:35 a.m.); KONI Challenge ST Qualifying (10:45-11 a.m.); KONI Challenge GS Qualifying (11:05-11:20 a.m.); KONI Challenge ST Race (3 p.m.; two hours and 30 minutes)
- Monday: KONI Challenge GS Race (9:45 a.m.; two hours and 30 minutes)
2008 IN REVIEW
There was a lot of action in the KONI Challenge Series’ only prior race of the season, the Fresh From Florida 200. Craig Stanton and Tim Traver moved from fourth to first in a handful of laps to capture the victory in the Grand Sport division. It marked the first victory for BGB Motorsports since the season finale at Virginia International Raceway in 2006. Joe Foster, Scott Maxwell and Jeff Courtney shared the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT in a second-place finish, while Terry Borcheller and Scott Turner took third in the No. 3 Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang GT.
In ST, i-MOTO Racing swept the front two positions at Daytona, with Nick Wittmer winning his second career KONI ST race and car owner and co-driver Glenn Bocchino his first. However, the winners and second-place finishers – teammates Kuno Wittmer and Peter Cunningham – were all docked five points for post-race technical infractions. That gave Karl Thomson and Travis Walker, who finished third at Daytona, 30 points, the same number as Bocchino and Nick Wittmer. Acuras took the top four positions in the race and five of the top six spots.
NEWS & NOTES
- Home Track For Many Drivers: More than a dozen drivers can call the Northeast home. Tom Nastasi (Stamford), Todd Snyder (Canaan), Adam Burrows (Canton), A.J. and Jameson Riley (Wilton), Bob Beede (Greenwich) and Bob Newman (Roxbury) all list Connecticut as their home state. Other New Englanders are Kurt Kossmann (Scituate, Mass.), Trevor Hopwood (Lee, N.H.), Don Salama (Somerville, Mass.), Rob Finlay (Peterborough, N.H.), Eric Curran (East Hampton, Mass.), Nick Leverone (Worcester, Mass.), Hugh McHaffie (Walpole, Mass.), Bill Fenton (Keene, N.H.), Matt Plumb (Newport, R.I.) and Laurence Oliva (Dover, N.H.).
- Home Race for Several Teams Too: Turner Motorsport is located near Boston and is one of the top teams in the KONI Challenge Series. Other New England teams are Bill Fenton Motorsports (New Hampshire) and Riley Racing (Connecticut).
- Multiple New Teams Debuting at Lime Rock: Several teams will be making their KONI Challenge Series debuts at Lime Rock Park this weekend. Flatout Motorsports will field the No. 08 Mazda RX-5 for Nick Leverone and Hugh McHaffie, both of Massachusetts. Kiton Racing, with drivers Jose Aybar and Gustavo Cabrera, will campaign the No. 144 Acura RSX Type S. Riley Racing will also field the No. 66 Mazda RX-8 for Connecticut natives A.J. and Jameson Riley. RSR Motorsports, which campaigns three Mini Coopers, and Compass360 Racing have also added cars to their stables.
- Skip Barber Instructor Todd Snyder Chasing Victory: Todd Snyder may have an upper-hand at Lime Rock this weekend. While many drivers call Lime Rock their home track, Snyder spends much of his time running at the 1.53-mile track. Snyder is the Vice President of Racing at Skip Barber Racing School LLC, which is based at the Lakeville, Conn. track. Snyder, who resides in Canaan, Conn., will team with Mark Ackley of Horseheads, N.Y. in the No. 17 CMA Motorsports Ackco Inc. Consulting Group Ford Mustang in GS. The two have competed together for several seasons, but are in their first season with CMA Motorsports. Skip Barber became the official racing school of Grand-Am in January.
- Race For Hope/Mutt Strut to be Held: Though competitors can’t start their engines Sunday, they can still compete in the Race for Hope, a closed course 5k at Lime Rock and sponsored by the KONI Challenge Grand Sport Motorsport Technology Group team. The run is part of a fund-raising program to benefit the Meisha’s Hope Fund #338 at Morris Animal Foundation for research into the prevention and treatment of Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia, a canine disease affecting team partner Steve Marcus’ 6-year-old husky, Tasha. The one-mile Mutt Strutt for dogs and their owners will follow. On-site registration is available, or interested parties can pre-register online at the team’s website, motorsporttechnologygroup.com.
KONI CHALLENGE SERIES POINT STANDINGS
- Grand Sport: 1. (tie) Craig Stanton, Tim Traver, (35); 3. (tie) Jeff Courtney, Joe Foster (32); 5. (tie) Scott Turner, Terry Borcheller (30); 7. (tie) Jeff Segal, Jep Thornton (28); 9. (tie) David Russell, Jon Miller (26).
- Street Tuner: 1. (tie) Glenn Bocchino, Nick Wittmer (30); 3. (tie) Karl Thomson, Travis Walker, (30); 5. (tie) Todd Lamb, David Thilenius (28); 7. (tie) Kuno Wittmer, Peter Cunningham (27); 9. (tie) Eric Curran, Jamie Holtom (26).