Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport Race Saturday at Mosport
Toronto driver co-piloted Ford Mustang to victory with Joe Foster in 2007; Three drivers co-lead GS points
Scott Maxwell gave his hometown crowd at Mosport International Raceway something to cheer about in 2007 when he and co-driver Joe Foster took the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT to the team’s only Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport victory of the season.
And the Toronto native Maxwell is looking to make it two straight for him and Foster and three consecutive for Mustangs in Saturday’s two-and-a-half hour race, which begins at 1 p.m., at the 2.459-mile, 10-turn track in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, the third round on the 2008 KONI Challenge schedule. The pair currently has 35 points – 28 points behind leaders Craig Stanton, Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal – after competing at Daytona International Speedway and Lime Rock Park.
After finishing second in January’s Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona, Maxwell and Foster came to Lime Rock trying to take the point lead away from Stanton. While running fourth, however, Foster was involved in contact with another Mustang, breaking the No. 55 car’s left front suspension. After a half hour of repairs, Maxwell returned to the track, but came away with a 28th-place finish.
Maxwell passed fellow Canadian David Empringham on Lap 81 of 95 at Mosport last year, and led 37 laps of the event. Like any driver returning to their hometown track, he is ready.
“Lime Rock was a bit of a setback for us,” Maxwell said, “but we’re hoping to do well again at Mosport. We have a good setup, and it’s my hometown track, so obviously I’m excited to be there. It’s my favorite race of the year, and we’re looking forward to doing well again.”
They’ll all be chasing three drivers who are tied for the point lead. After winning the Fresh From Florida 200, Stanton finished fourth at Lime Rock. Thornton and Segal, meanwhile, picked up their first KONI Challenge victory and first for Automatic Racing at Lime Rock after taking fourth at Daytona. Stanton is paired with former Automatic Racing driver Jon Miller in the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997, while Thornton and Segal share the No. 09 Automatic Racing Imported Car Store/Land Air BMW M3. The pair finished third last year at Mosport.
BGB Motorsports and Automatic Racing are only two of the multi-car teams running at Mosport. Others include Emerald Hill, Motorsport Technology Group, C-Max, Playboy Racing/Fall-Line, TRG, Rehagen Racing, Ranger Sports Racing and Turner Motorsport. Rehagen is bringing six cars to the track, and has a dozen cars racing between its KONI Challenge Series and Ford Mustang Challenge Series efforts at Mosport. Among the team’s drivers are Dean Martin and Ken Wilden finished second last year at the track. CMA Motorsports and JBS Motorsports will also have one-car efforts competing. James Gue and Bret Seafuse are tied for 10th in points driving for JBS.
Holtom, Curran Look to Extend ST Championship Lead
Like their counterparts in GS, Jamie Holtom and Eric Curran earned the point lead thanks to their victory at Lime Rock Park, as they claimed a 1.013-second victory over Freedom Autosport duo Rhett O’Doski and Tom Long. Holtom, of Ottawa, will look to win his second KONI Challenge Series race at Mosport in four years when he straps into the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS on Saturday.
“I’ve been traveling to Mosport since I was 2 years old, and to win with him was unbelievable,” said Holtom, who co-drove with Curran to a fourth-place finish last year at Mosport. “We’re definitely looking forward to getting back to racing after our victory at Lime Rock. All of the turbo-charged cars, like the Chevrolet Cobalt, are going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Holtom, who has never raced at Mosport in any car other than a Chevrolet Cobalt, has logged hundreds of laps around the track in races and in testing. He became the youngest class winner in KONI Challenge Series history when he won at Mosport in 2005, at 17 years, eight months and 18 days. That victory came with his father Jim. Georgian Bay Motorsports will also field the No. 00 Chevrolet Cobalt for Ancaster, Ontario natives Ashley McCalmont and Kirk Spencer.
The Holtoms are not alone when it comes to Canadians who have won the ST portion of the KONI race at Mosport. Last season, Karl Thomson of Toronto was also a co-winner when his then co-driver Billy Johnson made a last lap pass – the 13th and final of the day – to give Compass360 Racing its third victory of the season. Johnson passed Trevor Hopwood, who ultimately co-won the driving championship with Adam Burrows. Ironically, both Hopwood and Burrows now compete for Compass360 Racing.
Johnson has moved to GS this season, and Thomson and Mississauga’s Travis Walker are looking for better fortune to start the season. They were third at Daytona, but their debut of the new Honda Civic Si at Lime Rock didn’t go so well, was involved in an end-over-end crash that destroyed the new car. The pair returns to the Acura RSX this weekend. The team’s No. 73 Acura TSX features Oakville, Ontario native Ken Wilden and Jeremy Willard of Ontario, while Christian Miller and Kevin York, only 11 points behind Holtom and Curran, occupy the No. 75 Acura TSX.
Other multi-car teams include Meyer Motorsports, Bill Fenton Motorsports, i-MOTO Racing, Brass Mitchell Racing, Classic BMW-Plano, ICY/Phoenix Racing, Fountain Motorsports, Freedom Autosport, APR Motorsport and RSR Motorsports. Single car efforts will come from Flatout Motorsports, HART, V-Pack Motorsport, Kinetic Motorsports, Roar Racing, Turner Motorsport and Istook’s Motorsports.
KONI CHALLENGE SERIES WEEKEND SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EASTERN)
- Thursday: KONI Challenge Practice (11:10-11:40 a.m.); KONI Challenge Practice (12:30-1:00 p.m.); KONI Challenge Practice (2:35-3:15 p.m.); KONI Challenge Practice (4:15-4:55 p.m.)
- Friday: KONI Challenge Practice (9-9:40 a.m.); KONI Challenge Practice (12:30-1:10 p.m.); KONI Challenge ST Qualifying (3:25-3:40 p.m.); KONI Challenge GS Qualifying (3:50-4:05 p.m.)
- Saturday: KONI Challenge Race (1 p.m.; two hours and 30 minutes)
2008 IN REVIEW
Through the first two races of the 2008 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series season, different driving pairs and manufacturers have won races in one of the most diversified forms of racing in North America. And with that comes a tight point battle that is sure to stay that way until the final checkered flag falls in October.
Craig Stanton, the 2004 Grand Sport champion, and Tim Traver started the season off right with an overall and GS victory in the Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway in January, as Stanton moved from fourth to first in the waning laps after the top three cars ahead of him suffered from mechanical problems. The pair drove the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997. In the Street Tuner class, Quebec native Nick Wittmer and Glenn Bocchino notched the first victory for the i-MOTO Racing team, guiding the No. 31 Acura RSX to victory for a one-two team finish. However, the top two teams were docked five points for a non-compliant fuel tank.
The second round at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut was split into two class races, with Canadian Jamie Holtom and Yankee Eric Curran taking the victory in the ST race and in the process the point lead in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt. Holtom and Curran now lead the standings by 11 points. Defending GS driving champions Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton – who finished third at Mosport a year ago – earned the Automatic Racing team’s first ever victory in the No. 09 BMW M3. In GS points, Stanton, Segal and Thornton are all tied with 63 points.
NEWS & NOTES
- First of Two in Canada for KONI: This is the first of two KONI Challenge Series races in Canada this season. The series will run separate Grand Sport and Street Tuner races on the temporary street circuit of Trois-Rivieres in August. The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series will also race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Aug. 1.
- Maxwell One of Several KONI GS Drivers from Canada: Maxwell is only one of several Canadian drivers competing in this weekend’s race. Frank Rossi of Kleinburg, Ontario will co-drive the No. 89 Ranger Sports Racing Porsche 997, while Sasha Anis of Toronto and Andrew Wojteczko of East Caledon, Ontario will co-pilot the No. 140 SG-Motorsport Nissan 350Z. David Shep of Caledon, Ontario is entered in the both the Nos. 11 and 14 Emerald Hill Motorsports Ford Mustang GTs. The No. 11 will also see Massachusetts native Kurt Kossmann, who has competed in several Canadian-based racing championships during his career. From Quebec is former GS champion Jean-Francois Dumoulin, who hails from Trois-Rivieres and drives the No. 5 Blackforest Motorsports BMW M3. He is paired with Tom Nastasi, who is fifth in points. From the Pacific Coast comes David Riddle of Vancouver, who is entered to drive both the Nos. 25 and 26 C-MAX/Unitech Racing Porsche 997s with Kris Wilson.
- Georgian Bay, Compass360 Head Canadian Presence in ST: Georgian Bay Motorsports and Compass360 Racing have seven Canadian drivers competing for them, but those seven aren’t the only Canadians competing in ST. Andrew Danyliw of Toronto and Gunter Schmidt of Midland will compete in the No. 138 GS Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt, while Jonathan Rashleigh of Toronto will share the team’s No. 183 Cobalt. Matt Pritiko of London is a co-driver of the No. 53 Predator Auto Sport Chevrolet Cobalt SS with Quebec driver Robert Boyer of the Ste. Anne Des Lacs. Other Quebec natives include Kuno and Nick Wittmer of Hudson in the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Acura TSX and 89 Racing Team’s Daniel Blanchette and Jocelyn Hebert of Becancour in the No. 189 Honda Civic Si. Nick Wittmer and Glenn Bocchino won at Daytona in a dominating performance, but were stripped of team points for a non-compliant fuel tank.
- Car Count Up Despite High Fuel Costs: The cost of fuel in Canada and the U.S. is not deterring drivers and teams from making the trip to Mosport. Sixty-eight cars (37 in ST, 31 in GS) are entered for Saturday’s two-and-a-half hour race. Last year, 48 cars (28 GS and 20 ST) competed in separate class races.
- Ford Mustangs Top Overall KONI Victories at Mosport: Four different manufacturers have won in the GS class or overall since the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series started racing at Mosport. Only the Ford Mustang GT – which has won the last two races – has been an overall winner more than once.
- Looking to Break Qualifying Record: GS drivers will be gunning to break James Sofronas’ qualifying record of 1:29.508 (98.901 mph), while ST drivers will aim to eclipse Jim Holtom’s qualifying mark of 1:34.499 (93.677 mph). Both drivers set their respective qualifying marks in June 2005.
- Mosport Fifth Biggest Track on KONI Challenge Schedule: Mosport, at 2.459 miles, is the fifth biggest of the 11 tracks the KONI Challenge Series competes on in 2008. Miller Motorsports Park (4.486 miles), Daytona International Speedway (3.56 miles), Watkins Glen International (3.4 miles) and Virginia International Raceway (3.27 miles) are all bigger.
- Rehagen Racing’s 12 Cars of Mosport: It’s no easy feat for a multi-car team to cross from the U.S. into Canada and vice versa. But Rehagen Racing has 12 race cars – including six for Saturday’s KONI Challenge Series race – as well as five transporters, a hospitality trailer and 60 participants, including drivers, owners and crewmembers. They’re expecting to clear customs in an hour or so. “I’m not sure how we got to that number,” team PR contact John Clark said. Mike Canney and Hugh Plumb are the highest in the point standings, only 20 behind the leaders. Dean Martin, who was second in the Grand Sport race last year at Mosport, will also return to drive. Earlier this season, TRG had seven cars compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and four cars in KONI Challenge GS. TRG will have two Porsche 997s compete at Mosport, with Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende in the No. 39 and Peter Ludwig and Scott Schroeder in the No. 41.
KONI CHALLENGE SERIES DRIVER POINT STANDINGS
- Grand Sport: 1. (tie) Craig Stanton, Jep Thornton, Jeff Segal, (63); 4. Jon Miller (54); 5. Tom Nastasi (46); 6. (tie) Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub (44); 8. (tie) Hugh Plumb, Mike Canney (43); 10. (tie) Bret Seafuse, James Gue, Mike Borkowski, Tommy Constantine (42).
- Street Tuner: 1. (tie) Jamie Holtom, Eric Curran (61); 3. (tie) Peter Cunningham, Kuno Wittmer, Kevin York, Christian Miller (50); 7. (tie) Adam Burrows, Trevor Hopwood, Kristian Skavnes, Chuck Hemmingson (46).