Three Rivers Quebec- “Simply Awesome” a simple quote but a great way to surmise the latest weekend with APR Motorsport. The team continued its dominance of the Koni ST field with car 171 taking a strong 2nd place and car 181 solidly in the top ten at 7th.
The team arrived in great spirits looking forward to the 40th edition of the longest running street race in North America. If one has not attended this event, make plans to attend one year. The crowds are huge and their passion for the sport is contagious. Grand AM gave the team a great paddock location with which they could roll out APR Motorsport’s legendary fan friendly experience.
The practice sessions went according to plan with different setups and drivers learning the changes in the track. All practice sessions saw both cars run solidly in the top ten. As the weekend wore on, APR MS knew they were in a good position heading into qualifying. The highlight of all the practice sessions was the first night practice in Three Rivers history. There is nothing like race cars at night!!
Qualifying saw Dion von Moltke in car 181 and Josh Hurly in car 171. The team was looking forward to turning the cars loose in the early morning Saturday session. Like always getting in the fast laps in these sessions requires the drivers to really work their magic. Right out of the box car 171 was up the charts with Josh ultimately turning in a time that looked like the car’s fifth straight pole. Then at the very end of the session the MX5 just pipped our time resulting in car 171 qualifying in a strong 2nd spot. Josh also had to deal with a small engine fire that caused lots of excitement but ultimately did not deter him. Car 181 stormed through its session turning in a time that would put it 4th on the grid. All in all the team was very content to have two cars solidly in the top five. As many know, starting at the front of a race at Three Rivers is absolutely vital and the team was able to deliver.
The competition in the race was intense with many teams trying unorthodox race strategies to gain an advantage. Both APR Motorsport cars ran similar strategies however, due to a rules limitation, 171 was forced to pit 15 minutes after car 181. Both Hurley and von Moltke were able to keep their qualifying positions throughout their stints. Once the entire field had completed pitstops, the APR Motorsport GTI’s (now being driven by Ian Baas in 171 and Mike Sweeney in 181) found themselves still in 2nd and 4th position.
Baas and Sweeney both pushed their brakes as far as possible in order to make up ground on the competition. Baas was able to continue to the checker flag in 2nd while Sweeney finished 7th after losing a couple positions during an attempt a pass at the end of the back straight. Sweeney was on his way to back to podium contention when a transmission failure prevented the 181 GTI from shifting. Sweeney was forced to run the final 9 laps stuck in 3rd gear. Amazingly, Sweeney only lost 1 second per lap from his average and was still catching competitors whose cars had no brakes left.
After the GP3R event, 171 is 3rd in team points and closed some of the gap to the championship lead. In 181, the solid finish kept Mike Sweeney in 2nd place in the Mesco Rookie standings trailing behind leader, and APR Motorsport teammate Josh Hurley.
APR Motorsport competes next at Miller Motorsport Park, September 17 and 18. Keep up with the team at www.goapr.com/race . Live timing and scoring can be found at www.grand-am.com