KONI Challenge Series Race at Track
Foster, Maxwell shooting for two straight at Mosport in Grand Sport division
There was nothing unlucky about Joe Foster’s qualifying attempt on Friday the 13th in Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport competition at Mosport International Raceway, as the defending race co-winner took the top starting spot for Saturday’s third round.
Foster set a time of 1:30.853 (97.437 mph) on the fourth of his eight laps in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT, besting fellow Mustang driver Jack Roush Jr. in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT. Foster will start the No. 55 on Saturday, while fan favorite and fellow race co-winner Scott Maxwell will finish.
The two-and-a-half hour or 200-mile race, which will also feature the KONI Challenge Series Street Tuner class, is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Roush, in his second full season on the KONI Challenge Series circuit, ripped off a lap at 1:30.936 (97.438 mph) in the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Roush Performance Ford Mustang GT. Roush will share the No. 59 with Dean Martin, who started from the back of last year’s race before storming to the front and finishing second.
Steve Cameron will start third after turning a time of 1:30.960 in the No. 99 Automatic Racing BMW M3, with Tom Milner fourth at 1:31.234 in the No. 18 Motorsport Technology Group BMW Z4 and Charles Putman in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3 at 1:31.350. Cameron’s co-driver is Rob Finlay, Milner’s co-driver is Billy Johnson – who co-won the KONI ST race last year at Mosport – and Putman’s co-driver is Charles Espenlaub.
Series point co-leader Jep Thornton – who earned his first career KONI Challenge Series victory in the second round of the season at Lime Rock Park last month with co-driver Jeff Segal – qualified 12th. Right beside him is Jon Miller, who shares the No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997 with another series leader, Craig Stanton, also a race winner in 2008. Stanton and Segal, who finished fourth last year at Mosport, will fight to the checkered flag in Saturday’s race. Twenty-seven GS cars took qualifying times.
Point Leader Holtom Claims Street Tuner Pole in Record Time
Jamie Holtom didn’t hold anything back in his qualifying session Friday afternoon in the ST class. The Ottawa native bested a 3-year-old record set by his father Jim in June 2005, after posting a time of 1:34.310 (93.865 mph) on the fifth of his seven laps in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt.
Holtom – who co-drives the No. 01 with point co-leader Eric Curran – will share the front row with Steven Ott, who was also fast in Friday’s previously-held practice sessions. Ott drove the No. 51 Brass Mitchell Racing Mazda RX-8 to a time of 1:34.505 (93.671 mph), just six thousandths of a second off of Jim Holtom’s previous record of 1:34.499. Holtom became the series’ youngest ever class winner at 17 years, eight months and 18 days. He won the 2005 edition of the race at Mosport with his father Jim.
Ashley McCalmont, Holtom’s 21-year-old teammate from Ancaster, Ontario, also turned in a strong performance after a lap of 1:34.991 (93.192 mph) in the No. 00 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt. McCalmont is in her rookie season in the KONI Challenge Series and co-drives the Cobalt with Kirk Spencer.
Don Knowles in the No. 141 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy was fourth, while No. 138 GS Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt driver Andrew Danyliw was fifth. Knowles co-drives with Andrew Aquilante, while Danyliw co-drives with Gunter Schmidt.
Thirty-one ST cars took times during the session. Holtom and Curran currently sit in the series point lead with 61 points. Kuno Wittmer, who sits tied for third in the driver standings with three other drivers at 50 points, and his brother Nick Wittmer qualified ninth. Peter Cunningham, also with 50 points, and co-driver Glenn Bocchino will start 11th. Both drivers compete for i-MOTO Racing. Kevin York and Christian Miller, driving the No. 75 Compass360 Racing Acura TSX, also entered the weekend third in points but crashed in practice and did not participate in qualifying.
How The Canadian Drivers Fared: Several Canadian drivers made qualifying attempts on Friday. Three drivers – Jamie Holtom of Ottawa, Ashley McCalmont of Ancaster, Ontario, and Andrew Danyliw of Toronto – qualified in the ST top five, and the Hudson, Quebec duo of Nick and Kuno Wittmer will start ninth. Toronto’s Matt Pritiko will start 12th in ST, and Jocelyn Hebert of Quebec was 18th. Jeremy Willard was 26th. In GS, David Riddle of Vancouver was 18th, Sasha Anis was 22nd, Frank Rossi of Kleinburg, Ontario, was 24th and Fraser Wellon of Mississauga, Ontario, was 27th.
Mini Coopers Run Fast: Randy Smalley Racing’s three-car Mini Cooper entry saw the top of the charts several times on Friday with the team’s newest car, the No. 196. Drivers Owen Trinkler and BJ Zacharias were both quick in the practice sessions, and Trinkler was sixth in qualifying. Team owner Randy Smalley said a variety of updates and setups, as well as a strong driver combination, have helped the team improve.
Nastasi Believes BMW Will Be Strong: Tom Nastasi believes the BMW M3 will be strong throughout this weekend at Mosport. Nastasi drove the Ford Mustang last year and in the Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona before switching to the BMW M3 at Lime Rock Park. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the Mustang can help Nastasi when it comes to certain parts of the track, especially when he expects to hold them off. “The M3 is getting better,” Nastasi said. “Everything is good. I know how strong the Mustangs are on the straightaway here, and we have to keep them behind us on the straightaways.” Nastasi qualified the No. 5 Blackforest Motorsports BMW M3 seventh.
BGB Motorsports Taking “No Risks”: BGB Motorsports team principal John Tecce said Mosport has been known to “eat cars alive.” That’s why the car sat out the first practice session of the day. “The guys say they have a good car,” Tecce said. “We don’t want to take any risks.” Jon Miller qualified the car 12th, while Craig Stanton – tied as the point leader with Automatic Racing co-drivers and defending champions Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal – will finish the race.
Incidents Sideline Two Cars During Practice: The No. 75 Compass360 Racing Acura TSX of Kevin York and the No. 30 Meyer Motorsports Mazda RX-8 of Peyton Wilson were both involved in practice accidents and neither car participated in qualifying. York crashed in Turn 1 and got out under his own power, while Wilson hit the concrete in Turn 2, severely damaging the car’s front end. Wilson was evaluated on the infield medical center and released.
Joe Foster (No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT) - “Obviously qualifying went well for us. It’s a hot afternoon, which is unseasonably hot here. This track is very greasy, and we took a stab setup-wise that worked. Some of the tracks in this series don’t suit the Mustangs, but this track definitely does, so we are grateful to put the Mustang up front.”
Jack Roush Jr. (No. 59 Rehagen Racing Roush Performance Ford Mustang GT) – “It’s pretty interesting being back here. Last year I left this track feeling like I hadn’t really figured out some of the areas, more so than any other track, and it’s interesting coming back this year feeling like I did have more of a handle on it with the power steering. The qualifying run went well; I didn’t get caught up in any traffic. I was lucky in that I didn’t get the tires overheated, although they were getting warmer. In general I find qualifying kind of challenging because I am more of a rhythm driver; usually the longer I drive in a session, the faster I get. With how short qualifying is, you don’t have time to do that, but luckily I was able to do that in this session and get my fastest lap at the end.”
Jamie Holtom (No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt) – “I’m not too happy to break that record with my dad previously holding the track mark, but it’s great to start up front, so it’s bittersweet. The Georgian Bay guys turned out amazing cars. I also want to congratulate Ashley McCalmont on her breakthrough, third-place starting spot. She’s doing a great job. I’m super-excited to be starting this car on the pole. This is the second straight for us this season. We’re looking to bring the Chevy Cobalt to first again.”
Ashley McCalmont (No. 00 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt) – “It was the last lap. My crew chief came on and said that if I could turn a lap just one-tenth of a second faster, I'd make up five positions. I decided that I could do that, tried a little harder and made it up to third. It feels great. My main job tomorrow is to keep it clean, keep it up there for Kurt (Spencer) and hopefully he can bring home a good finish.”