APR Scores a Street Tuner Top Ten at Home Race
APR Scores a Street Tuner Top Ten at Home Race
With huge support from the hometown crowd and hundreds of guests in the APR Motorsport/VW DriverGear paddock, the race at Barber Motorsports Park was sure to bring excitement for the Street Tuner class VW’s of APR Motorsport. Extra excitement was added by the debut of the world’s first MKVI GTI race car, piloted by Australian star Tom Drewer and APR President Stephen Hooks. All eyes were on APR this Saturday while the MKVs would retain their lineups from Homestead and return to Barber after 2009’s win by Josh Hurley in the same race.
Mike Sweeney would bring the excitement in qualifying, with a positively electrifying lap to put his 171 APR Motorsport VW GTI on the grid in 3rd position, “The car was absolutely incredible, the APR Motorsport VW DriverGear crew just does fabulous work, and it’s been great to show the results of their effort,” said Mike Sweeney as he reflected on the qualifying session. Kevin Stadtlander would put his car on the grid in a fine 14th position, his best effort for the season showing steady improvement for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge rookie. During the same session Tom Drewer became the first person in the world to qualify a VW MKVI GTI on a racing grid, and did an excellent job to put the new car in the 16th spot in his very first attempt behind the wheel.
Due to the race schedule, the team would have a long 29 hours after qualifying till the start of the race, so the APR Motorsport crew spent the time getting every last detail on the VW DriverGear GTI’s ready, as well as answering all the fans’ questions about the race cars.
Finally it was race time. Under a beautiful, cloudless, Alabama sky the APR Motorsport team took to the track. Down went the green flag and quickly Mike Sweeney took 2nd position. Kevin also began advancing though the field in his 181 GTI. Unfortunately Tom Drewer suffered some electronic teething problems on the new MKVI GTI, but after brilliant service from the APR Motorsport crew, was soon back on track running extremely competitive times in his first race in Grand Am although a few laps were lost during the repair.
The race proved difficult for many of the drivers, as the Barber Motorsports circuit began to get very slick, and as a result there were many cautions, but the APR Motorsport drivers never put a wheel wrong. During one of these cautions, Jeff Mishtawy (APR Director of Motorsport) called both the MKV GTIs of Sweeney and Stadtlander in to the pits for tires, fuel, and a driver change. With a faultless stop Sweeney quickly handed the 171 car over to Mike Halpin, the 181 car however struggled with a seatbelt issue during the stop and would thus have to fight from deeper in the pack, with Josh Hurley aboard.
The green flag dropped once again, and the APR drivers once again got to work. Hurley quickly advanced, while the balance on Halpin’s car struggled slightly. However, the race continued to be marred by cautions, which gave the field a break from APR Motorsport’s advance. This meant there would be very little time for Hurley and Halpin to improve their positions, as the race only went under green 5 or 10 minutes at a time.
Hurley was able to make the most of these short sprints and was able to bring home the APR Motorsport VW DriverGear MKV GTI in 10th place, the second top ten in a row for the 181 crew. Mike Halpin would bring the 171 home in 12th.
Stephen Hooks finished the debut race of the MKVI with expert driving that kept the car mid pack in only its first outing. Hooks drove the second stint and was one of only a few second stint drivers in the entire field to improve his cars lap time on the slippery Barber surface. Stephen relayed, “It was good to be back behind the wheel and to do so during such an historic event. To be one of the first drivers to race the new GTi is something I will look back on as one of the highlights of my career. As teams in other racing series around the world begin to introduce the MKVI into their programs, we’ll have developed the new chassis to its fullest capabilities and I expect to see some podium results before the end of the year.”
“It’s a shame that our results don’t reflect our pace this round. The yellow flags hurt us, as our car was much better over the long run, but I’m confident that we’ll get these APR Motorsport VW DriverGear Gti’s up front at VIR,” said Hurley about the weekend. Stadtlander echoed similar sentiments, “The car was phenomenal and I was just taking it easy saving brakes so Josh could have a go at the lead pack. At VIR the race should have much fewer interruptions due to yellows and this will play to our advantage.” Mike Halpin also endured problems with the yellow flags, “It made it really hard to develop a rhythm, but we ran up front early, so we know the pace is there now and we should be stronger the rest of the season. “
Tom Drewer sums it up best, “It was fantastic to be able to make the world race debut of the new MKVI GTI and to do so with such a professional outfit as APR. The car ran very well for its first time out. APR has done a very good job and I think it won’t be long before the Mk6 is ultra competitive. A small electronic issue at the start of the race kept us from taking the green and put us a lap or so down, but really it was just unfortunate that minor problem surfaced when it did. As they say ‘that’s motor racing’. Otherwise the car has proven to be very reliable, and quite quick out of the box. Without the glitch I certainly think we would have finished similarly to the Mark Fives. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Continental race. What a show! A great team and a great series and I must thank Stephen Hooks, APR and VW DriverGear for this opportunity.”
In only two weeks time, the APR Motorsport crew and drivers will be back in action at Virginia International Raceway, where the race should be much cleaner, thus handing the advantage to the APR Motorsport team, so make sure you check
www.goapr.com for all the news about the next race at VIR!
About VW DriverGear: VW DriverGear is the accessories arm of VW North America. VW DriverGear represents the lifestyle of the VW driver, and provides a wide range of accessories ranging from clothing to wheels for your favorite Volkswagen, or your favorite Volkswagen driver. To get gear for your driver, or your VW please visit www.drivergear.vw.com
About APR: APR LLC is an automotive engineering firm operating a 36,000 sq. ft. performance campus in Opelika, Ala. APR was founded in 1997 with a corporate philosophy of Integrity, Excellence and Innovation. APR’s Sole Mission is to provide the highest quality and most highly engineered aftermarket performance products available for Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen vehicles. Learn more at www.goapr.com.
About Mike Sweeney: After starting his racing career on motorcycles just five years ago, Mike proved his speed in karts, vintage cars, touring cars, formula cars and sprint cars. He competed in his first professional race in 2008, and finished out his rookie year in 2009 with a series-high three wins in the APR Motorsport No. 181 VW GTI. Sweeney is a professional driving instructor based out of Monterey, Calif. For more information, visit www.gomikesweeney.com
About Mike Halpin: Hailing from Phoenix, Ariz., Mike Halpin is a veteran racer with multiple SCCA championships. His diverse career has included every current GRAND-AM class. In addition to his racing exploits, Halpin is a mechanical engineering with over 35 patents in semi conductor and suspension designs.
About Kevin Stadtlander: Pittsburgh, PA native Kevin is an Interventional Radiologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston, Florida, and is also an experienced racer with multiple wins and podiums in SCCA, PBOC, and NASA racing events. Combining his love for motorsports with his occupation as a physician, Kevin has been a member of the International Council of Motorsport Science and is currently the Medical Chief for Florida Region SCCA
About Josh Hurley: A Fort Lauderdale native, Hurley was the 2008 VW TDI Cup Champion. In 2009, he stepped up to the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge class, winning the MESCO Rookie of the Year award, as well as one race victory, two poles and five podiums. To learn more about Hurley, please visit www.GoJoshHurley.com