Holtom, Curran Shoot for Three Straight KONI Challenge ST Victories Sunday at Mid-Ohio
Duo leads the standings over defending Mid-Ohio race winners Skavnes, Hemmingson
Jamie Holtom and Eric Curran are trying to become the first drivers in nearly four seasons to accomplish the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series three-peat Sunday, when the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS co-drivers battle 47 other cars in the Street Tuner-only race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Fresh off back-to-back victories at Lime Rock Park in May and Mosport International Raceway last week, Holtom and Curran look to extend their point lead, which has already blossomed to 18 points. The pair finished fifth in the season-opening Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway in January. The last two drivers to pull off three consecutive KONI Challenge class victories were Terry Borcheller and Craig Stanton, who co-drove to three straight victories to start the 2004 Grand Sport (GS) season. Borcheller was actually credited with a fourth straight victory, winning with another team as the pair drove separately in the final seven races.
Holtom and Curran hope that doesn’t happen, however. In addition to their two victories this season, they scored two race victories in 2007, and won at Mid-Ohio together in 2006. Holtom also won the Mid-Ohio race with Andy Lally in 2005, giving Georgian Bay Motorsports two of the last three ST victories at Mid-Ohio. Georgian Bay’s other car, the No. 00 Chevrolet Cobalt SS, will be piloted by Kirk Spencer and Ashley McCalmont.
“I’m very excited to go into Mid-Ohio,” Curran said. “We’ve always been strong there, and the Chevrolet Cobalt SS has been awesome there. Over the last three years, the Cobalt has finished on the podium at Mid-Ohio. Mid-Ohio is as important for us as is Mosport, because Ohio is the location for the Cobalt/GM plant. We’ve got about 100 people coming out to watch us, so we would like to win in front of them and extend the point lead. We’ve done our homework, and we feel good about this weekend.”
But in order to stay ahead in the standings, Holtom and Curran must keep defending race winners ICY/Phoenix Racing Kristian Skavnes and Chuck Hemmingson at bay. Skavnes and Hemmingson – who broke Georgian Bay’s Mid-Ohio streak last season – are only 18 points in arrears (96-78), as Skavnes pulled to within a second of Curran at the checkered flag at Mosport. Their fifth-place finish at Lime Rock has kept Skavnes and Hemmingson, who drive the No. 111 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy, in the hunt. Andrew Aquilante and David Rosenblum co-drive the team’s No. 141 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy.
Kuno Wittmer is also tied with Skavnes and Hemmingson at 78 points, and he will also try to cut into the point lead at Mid-Ohio. Wittmer is driving the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Cybernation Acura TSX with Peter Cunningham. His brother, Nick Wittmer, claimed the Fresh From Florida 200 victory with co-driver Glenn Bocchino in the No. 31 i-MOTO Racing Cybernation Acura TSX.
Most teams running at Mid-Ohio will be multi-car efforts. Compass360 Racing has four cars, including the No. 76 Skunk2/K&N Acura RSX Type S. Christian Miller, sixth in driver points, is teamed with Travis Walker after his No. 75 Acura TSX was destroyed in a practice accident at Mosport. Meanwhile, his former fulltime co-driver Kevin York will drive the No. 75 Compass360 Racing GOENZO.com/034 Motorsport BMW 330i, which the team borrowed from Fountain Motorsports and team owner Jeffrey Bock. Defending ST champs Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood are in the No. 74 Acura TSX.
APR Motorsport and RSR Motorsports are each bringing three cars, while two-car teams include Bill Fenton Motorsports (coming off a third at Mosport), Brass Mitchell Racing, Roar Racing, Classic BMW-Plano, HART, Fountain Motorsports and Freedom Autosport. Single-car teams include Flatout Motorsports, Kinetic Motorsports, Team Cobalt California, Predator Auto Sport, T Giovanis Motorsport, SpeedSource, Hickham Motorsports, BGB Motorsports, GOTO Racing, Turner Motorsport, Istook’s Motorsports, GS Motorsports, Kiton Racing and LRT Racing.
KONI CHALLENGE SERIES ST WEEKEND SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EASTERN)
- Friday: KONI Challenge Practice (11:10 a.m.-Noon); KONI Challenge Practice (2:40-3:20 p.m.)
- Saturday: KONI Challenge Practice (10:45-11:20 a.m.); KONI Challenge Qualifying (2:15-2:30 p.m.)
- Sunday: KONI Challenge Practice (9-9:30 a.m.); KONI Challenge Race (12:45 p.m.; two hours and 30 minutes)
2008 IN REVIEW
Through the first three races of the 2008 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series season, two different driving pairs and two 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.
In the Street Tuner class at Daytona International Speedway, 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 non-compliant fuel tanks.
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. The pair backed that up with a victory last weekend at Mosport International Raceway. So far this season, 95 drivers have been credited with points.
NEWS & NOTES
- Ohio-Based Drivers Running at Mid-Ohio: Several Ohio-based drivers will try their luck at Mid-Ohio as well. Cincinnati’s BJ Zacharias anchors a deep three-car effort from the RSR Motorsports stable. Jason Henderson from Cincinnati and Ray Mason from Columbus make up half of the Fountain Motorsports team. Zach Arnold of Tiffin co-drives for V-Pack, while John Schmitt of Sunbury co-drives for HART. Will Nonnamaker of North Canton is a former KONI Challenge champion and will co-drive for Team Sahlen. Other Ohio natives are Chad Gilsinger of Marysville with Bill Fenton Motorsports and Brian Flint of Galloway with Team Cobalt California. Andy Brumbaugh, who drives for Meyer Motorsports, was born in Coshocton but now resides in Columbia, S.C.
- Scion to Debut at Mid-Ohio: The No. 72 Scion tC sports coupe and team, which started as the world’s first Scion to take a national podium in road racing, will debut at Mid-Ohio. The Jackson-Dawson Scion team has its sights set on fierce competition, as they become the first-ever Scion team to compete in a professional road race series. The pro racing effort will be fielded by BGB Motorsports, one of the top teams in the Grand Sport (GS) class. "We’re excited to be a part of this factory-backed effort," said BGB team manager, John Tecce. "It’s not every day you get to field a car that’s making history by being the first of its kind. Scion and TRD have shown great commitment to this program, and we’re just happy to be a part of it."
- Bill Fenton Motorsports Moving Back Up: Bill Fenton Motorsports has looked good in each race in which it has competed. David Thilenius and Todd Lamb finished a season-best fourth at Daytona, and were 10th at Mosport. In contrast, Bob Beede and Matt Plumb have back-to-back finishes in the No. 29 Honda Civic Si, the first season in which the car is permitted to compete. Bill Fenton Motorsports won the 2003 STII team title and was second in the team ST standings in 2006.
- Car Count Up Despite High Fuel Costs: The cost of fuel in the U.S. is not deterring drivers and teams from making the trip to Mid-Ohio. Forty-eight cars are entered for Sunday’s two-and-a-half hour race. Last year, only 33 started the event.
KONI CHALLENGE SERIES DRIVER POINT STANDINGS
- Street Tuner: 1. (tie) Jamie Holtom, Eric Curran (96); 3. (tie) Kristian Skavnes, Chuck Hemmingson, Kuno Wittmer (78); 6. Christian Miller (75); 7. Peter Cunningham (73); 8. (tie) Adam Burrows, Trevor Hopwood (72); 10. (tie) Toby Grahovec, Pierre Kleinubing (65).