Monterey, Ca: The APR Motorsport team and their #171 and #181 VW GTI’s had a very competitive showing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for round 4 of the KONI Sports Car Challenge. The team made steady progress throughout testing and had put themselves in position to podium in the race. Although some bad luck in the race prevented top finishing positions for the team, hopes are high for the upcoming race at Lime Rock Park.
The race began with both VWs making steady progress toward the front of the ST field with the early stints being driven by Ian Baas in 171 and Mike Sweeney in 181. Both drivers had qualified very well, in 5th and 6th respectively. From the start Baas and Sweeney were both able to overtake several cars. After only 40 minutes of racing, Baas was leading by several seconds and Sweeney was in third, locked in a battle for second place. Baas’ time in the lead lasted 26 laps of the race, the most laps lead by any car or driver. Both cars then pitted under a full course caution for a driver change, new tires, and refueling. About his stint Baas said, “The car was great today. The temperatures at the track were much higher than we had anticipated. I had to do my best to manage my water temperature but our brakes were fantastic! I was able to just push the other cars until their brakes faded and then make the pass.” At the same time as 171, Sweeney was also instructed by the team to enter the pitlane for a full pitstop. “The heat was tough today. Temps were an issue so I had to manage them my entire stint. The guys put a great car together for me and all I had to do was keep it clean for Dion.” said Sweeney.
After quick pit work by the APR Motorsport crew both of the GTI’s reentered the race. Josh Hurley, the reigning Jetta TDI Cup series champion, took over driving duties in the 171 while the 181 GTI was now being driven by Dion von Moltke. With the mandatory pit stops completed, both APR drivers were poised to charge to the front of the pack. Hurley and von Moltke both quickly progressed though the field and were within sight of the lead when the 171 was struck with an electrical issue forcing a visit to the pitlane. The team was able to rectify the issue with some quick computer work and get the car back on track to finish in 13th. Hurley said “What a shame. The team had put a great car together and a podium was a sure thing. We are investigating the electrical issue and I am sure the team will have it sorted out before Lime Rock.” Shortly after the issue with the 171 GTI, von Moltke experienced a suspension failure also prompting a trip to the pitlane. The failure cost 181 time, but von Moltke was still able to finish in 15th. Of note however is the 181 GTI driven by Dion von Moltke turned one of the fastest laps of the ST race. Dion reflected on his race by saying, “We were in 5th place with 15 minutes to go when we had the suspension failure. A 5 way battle for the lead was just beginning and we could easily have finished on the podium. Lime Rock should be a good track for us with the nimble GTI’s and we have had an entire year of development since our last visit there.”