Pobst & Martin Complete Belle Isle Challenge
DETROIT – Randy Pobst and Dean Martin took home wins in the second race of the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac V-Series Challenge at Belle Isle, part of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, in the GT and GTS classes, respectively.
Pobst, who started from the second position, got the jump on the start, winning the race to Turn One in his No. 6 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60. Pobst then held on to his lead through two restarts to take the checkered flag under caution in the 22-lap race that averaged 61.745 mph around the 13-turn, 2.35-mile street course.
The three caution periods that slowed the race totaled 12 laps. The first of those was brought out on lap 10, and lasted five laps, when Tony Gaples made contact with the wall in Turn Six in the GTS class No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro.
The second yellow was displayed after a Turn One collision that happened on the lap-15 restart, forcing the field to circulate behind the safety car for an additional six laps. The collision involved five cars, including that of local driver Dane Moxlow in the No. 7 Trenton Forging/Eaton Steel Ford Mustang Boss 302S.
The third, and final, full-course caution followed contact in Turn Three, just after the lap-21 restart. That incident left Andy Pilgrim, in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R, facing the wrong way as he was challenging James Sofronas for third under braking.
All things considered Pobst was pleased with the win, but wanted to finish under green.
“The Volvo is great at the take-off,” Pobst said. “We get track position, which is really valuable, but the fact is that some of these other cars are quicker in the race.
“Johnny [O’Connell] reeled me in, and then I saw James [Sofronas] appear reeling both of us in. Although, I think, James was really reeling me while I was holding Johnny up. And that’s how the drama was playing out.
“It’s a shame that we had the yellows because the fans were going to see a heck of a race, because I was trying to figure out how to keep those guys behind me.”
Johnny O’Connell ended the day with a better result than his Cadillac Racing teammate, finishing second in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R. Following the safety car, Johnny O’Connell finished 1.109 seconds behind Pobst, resulting in a positive weekend, from a championship perspective.
“My game plan was to stay on Randy and get him to over-drive his car and make my move,” O’Connell said. “I was going to wait another 10 minutes and see what I could get. Then we had all of those cautions. It was a shame. I didn’t get the opportunity to put the Cadillac in the winner’s circle again today. I think we had the stronger car. I was able to get a good start and motor up into second. It was a good day. We gained some manufacturer points on Audi. As we look forward, we have to keep that big picture in mind. I am proud of everyone on the team.”
GT Drivers’ Championship leader James Sofronas crossed the line third in the No. 14 GMG/Mobil 1 Audi R8. Starting from the pole, Sofronas fell back at the start, but by lap eight, after passing Tomy Drissi for third, closed the gap O’Connell and Pobst had created in the opening laps, turning up the pressure on the Cadillac driver before the first yellow. Following the second restart, Sofronas and Pilgrim battled hard for each precious position.
“On the restart, our car was a little bit weaker with colder tires,” Sofronas said. “I was trying my best to get them scrubbed in. The green flag dropped, and as I came through two, got a little sideways and Andy [Pilgrim] had a head of steam and actually hit me from behind, and probably helped me get farther down the straightaway. But he had a run, and I protected on the inside. We went way deeper than we would normally, knowing that we were at the tail end of it. We were rubbing door handles and mirrors and I was at the threshold [of braking performance] with him.
“Next thing I know he’s turned around behind me. It’s unfortunate. Andy is the cleanest racer out there.”
Duncan Ende brought his No. 24 STANDD.org/Merchant Services Audi R8 home in fourth, tying his best finish of the year from Long Beach.
Tim Pappas scored his third career Pirelli World Challenge GT top-five, finishing fifth in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS.