Watkins Glen, NY: Capping off a nearly perfect race weekend, APR Motorsport came away from Watkins Glen with the team’s first-ever victory and the first professional U.S. road racing victory for any VW in over 25 years! The APR team also owned the front row of the Street Tuner grid with an amazing 1-2 performance in qualifying.
Starting from Pole Position was Ian Baas in the #171 APR/Gunther/Motul/IAV/BBS Volkswagen GTI while Mike Sweeney started the #181 APR/Motul/IAV/BBS Volkswagen GTI in second place. From the drop of the flag, both APR drivers were able to establish a small gap to third place and began an intense battle for the lead. “The car was so perfect today. Mike and I had a good fight for the lead but we knew there could be no contact.” said Baas. As the APR team got closer to the pit window a small electrical problem began to cause intermittent power loss on #171 and forced the team into the pits. While completing the driver change and refueling, the APR technicians found and repaired the issue costing little extra time. Josh Hurley then began working back toward the lead, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. Unfortunately Hurley was given a stop-go penalty with about thirty minutes remaining for jumping a restart. After being relegated back to 18th position, Hurley completed a series of qualifying laps to bring the #171 VW across the stripe in 6th place. Hurley said “I was pushing like crazy to get back to the lead! That penalty was devastating, and I am very sorry for it. APR Motorsport put a car under me that was simply amazing and I tried to recover the most points I could. We should be strong at Mid-Ohio and hopefully we can earn a win there.”
For #181, the road to victory lane was a little smoother, but not much. Sweeney was beginning to run out of fuel when a full-course caution came out and sent a wave of panic through the APR pits. The team was able to use the rules to their advantage and brought the car in out of sequence for a brief splash of fuel before rejoining the field at the back of the pack. Then a lap later, Sweeney was able to pit in sequence with the rest of the field and Dion von Moltke took the wheel after some fast pit work by the APR crew. Von Moltke made steady progress toward the front of the pack for several laps when another caution bunched the field. When the officials called for the ST cars to pass the pace car and re-catch the field, the APR team was ready for it and sent von Moltke forward gaining a position as other teams failed to relay the “wave-by” information to their drivers. Once the order was sorted out the race was restarted. “I really don’t know what happened at the restart. There was a bit of a shuffle during the wave-by and a little confusion. Once the race was back underway, I pushed very hard and was able to pass Randy going up the hill in the esses.” said von Moltke. From that point on, the #181 GTI was simply untouchable. After taking the lead, rain began to fall on the majority of the track and von Moltke drove cautiously with Pobst closely behind. “It was definitely quite a challenge with immense pressure for the final 30 minutes from Randy Pobst, mixed in with a crazy rain conditions on different parts of the track, so every lap at every corner you had no idea what was coming up next. It took some serious mental toughness so thankfully I had my Performance Drink before I got in the car!” said von Moltke. After the race, Sweeney said “Unbelievable. I am so happy to grab this first win for APR with Dion, but it would have been a little easier on the nerves if the race had been less interesting! There was no stopping my teammate today, and the best crew in KONI now has their first win! Go APR!”
The team would like to thank its partners Motul, BBS, Status, IAV, Team Janica, Performance Drink, and Gunther VW.
Keep up with the latest news and information about the APR Motorsport team at www.goapr.com. The next race is at Mid-Ohio on June 19-21, 2009. Tickets and live timing and scoring for the race can be found at www.grand-am.com.