It was a great day for racing, and for Lou Gigliotti in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers Corvette C6. Just hours after taking the pole in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT Championship, Gigliotti went on to score the 20th win of his World Challenge Career. The victory, at the Infineon Grand Prix in Sonoma, CA, was Gigliotti’s first since 1997 – breaking his 16-race winless streak.
|Gaples, Gigliotti, Archer. Courtesy: SCCA|
It was also great news for the many Corvette aficionados gathered at Sonoma, marking the first time the Corvette has taken a trip to victory lane in the last 24 races. The point was also driven home by Tony Gaples’ second-place finish in his No. 34 Kleinschmidt Inc./Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6. Defending SCCA SPEED GT Champion Tony Archer finished in third with his No. 1 c3controls/3R-Racing Dodge Viper.
The race’s most pivotal moment came when second and third place runners Wolf Henzler in his No. 55 Applied Materials Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 Cup and Leighton Reese in his No. 6 Banner Engineering Corvette C6 came together at turn seven on lap nine. The two had battled hard up until the incident, which caused flat tires on both, forcing them to pit. Henzler would eventually battle his way back to finish seventh the fasted lap of the race while Reese later retired.
“I really didn't know what happened when Wolfie was on my bumper. I had no idea
that they took each other out,” Gigliotti said. “We were the lighter car but light or not, Wolfie was all over us.”
“I didn't know what was going on,” said Gaples, “but I knew it put me into second place.”
The 25-lap SPEED GT race ran entirely caution-free, allowing Gigliotti to build up a 7.121-second cushion on Gaples. “I'm surprised the SCCA didn't throw a yellow,” Gigliotti said. “I thought they would throw the yellow and say 'Damn Lou is out there too far.’”
For Archer, the third-place finish at Infineon ended in a somewhat bittersweet fashion. Before the race I thought, 'If we could get six that would be great,'” said Archer. “So this is like winning the race.”
However, an early-race incident with Max Papis in the Cadillac CTS-V combined with a two-race probation from an incident in Cleveland to cost Archer five points and $3000. Also, his probation was an additional two games.
Andy Pilgrim now leads Archer by nine points (163 to 154), while Robil Liddell is third (151), Henzler (127) is fourth, and Papis (126) is fifth in overall standings in the Drivers Championship.
Gigliotti Gets 20th Win, Ends 24-Race Victory Drought for Corvette in SCCA SPEED GT at Infineon
SONOMA, Calif. (July 16, 2005) – Prior to Saturday afternoon’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Round Seven race, polesitter Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, talked about the importance of getting a clean start in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers Corvette C6. He did exactly that and then never looked back, averaging a record 86.779 mph over the caution-free 25-lap SPEED GT race en route to earning the 20th win of his World Challenge career.
Tony Gaples, of Libertyville, Ill., had the best run of his World Challenge career by finishing second, 7.121 seconds back, in the No. 34 Kleinschmidt Inc./Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6, and defending SPEED GT Drivers’ Champion Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., finished third in his No. 1 c3controls/3R-Racing Dodge Viper.
The win broke a tie between three-time Drivers’ Champion Gigliotti and Michael Galati for third on the all-time wins list and snapped a 24-race winless streak for Corvette, which dated back to Phil McClure’s win at Mosport International Raceway in 2003. The win also stopped a personal 16-race winless streak for Gigliotti, who hadn’t visited victory lane since 1997.
Gigliotti received a major boost when then second and third place runners Wolf Henzler, of Nurtingen, Germany (No. 55 Applied Materials Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 Cup), and Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn. (No. 6 Banner Engineering Corvette C6), took each other out of the three-way battle for the lead.
The two, running just behind Gigliotti, battled side-by-side on lap nine when they came together at turn seven. The incidental contact caused flat tires on both cars, forcing them into the pits. Though they continued, the incident effectively ended their victory chances. Henzler, who won the B&M Oil Coolers “Coolest Move of the Race” for a start that vaulted him into second past Reese, rebounded to post the race’s fast lap with a 1:42.322 (89.013 mph) on lap 12 and finish seventh, while Reese later retired.
After the race, Gigliotti said that when then-second place driver Henzler was close, it gave him a lot to think about.
“With Wolf on my bumper, I knew I’d burn my rear tires off. I was just hoping he’d burn his off before us,” Gigliotti said. “With Wolf on our bumper, it was going to be tough. I could beat him in a few places, and Wolf would catch up to me in [turn]11. I wasn’t going to give him the inside, and one time we were side-by-side. A clean driver and really good racing. It was a pleasure to drive with Wolfie.”
With Henzler and Reese out of contention, Gaples assumed second place and never relinquished it, staying just out of Archer’s reach. Gaples, whose previous best finish was a sixth at Infineon in 2004, said he was at first surprised to be in second, but then determined to hold on to his spot.
“It’s great to be here. It’s a lot of fun to be up here on the podium,” Gaples said. “I got to see Leighton [Reese] and [Wolf] Henzler pull into the pits and I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew that it put me into second place. I just did my best to stay there.
“I knew that Tommy [Archer] was coming and the guys on the crew said ‘speed it up a little bit,’ and that’s what I did.”
In the end, Archer said, he wasn’t sure his weighty Viper ever had enough to overtake Gaples.
“I was hoping that I could get close enough to him [Gaples] so that he would make a mistake or something,” Archer said. “The weight really took a toll on the tires today. There are normally cautions here. There were no cautions and I was a lot heavier than these guys were on the same size tires.”
2004 SPEED GT Rookie of the Year Mike McCann, of North Canton, Ohio, finished a career-best fourth Saturday in the No. 82 McCann Plastics/K&N Filters Dodge Viper, while Robin Liddell, of Edinburgh, Scotland, took fifth in the No. 66 AXA Financial/PFAFF Porsche 911 Cup.
Jon Groom, of Boonton, N.J., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing eight positions to finish 12th after starting 20th.
Mark LoPilato, of Granbury, Texas placed highest among rookies (14th) in the No. 42 US American Resources Porsche 911 Turbo. His finish gave him 36 points and a current second-place standing in The Winning Team Racing Apparel Rookie of the Year chase. Sonny Whelen, of Old Saybrook, Conn., leads with 72 points.
By finishing third, Archer would have closed the gap slightly on current Drivers Championship leader Andy Pilgrim, of Del Ray Beach, Fla., who wound up a season-low eighth in the No. 8 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V after fading toward the end of the race. However, an early race incident between Archer and the Max Papis-driven Cadillac CTS-V meant a violation of Archer’s two-race probation for a Cleveland incident.
For his part, Archer was penalized five points, $3000 and had his probation extended two additional races. With the penalty, Pilgrim leads Archer by nine points (163-154) with Liddell third, with 151. Henzler (127) and Papis, of Miami, Fla. (126), are fourth and fifth, respectively.
Though it didn’t score any points at the Infineon Grand Prix, Cadillac maintained its lead in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine. With 42 points, Cadillac leads Porsche’s 38, followed by Dodge (28) and Chevrolet (22).
For more information about Round Seven from Infineon Raceway, or for Round Eight’s July 29-31 Grand Prix of Portland, visit www.world-challenge.com.