Philip Grabow set the fastest time of the weekend
The state motto might be ‘Virginia is for lovers’, but over the past weekend, surely it was for lovers of all high-end and high performance sports cars, as Virginia International Raceway (Alton, VA) played host to rounds 9 and 10 of the 2011 Whelen US TimeTrial Championship.
Sunday also saw George Whelen match his father’s Saturday performance to take the top step of the GT-Unlimited class podium- his first ever win in the US GT Championship’s premier class.
The weekend was expected to be a battle between two different breeds of horsepower- that of boost four-cylinder turbos and big American made cubic-inches. However, a surge of late entries not only gave the VIR rounds of the Whelen USTTC a record number of competitors, but another type of contender. Exotic European thoroughbreds joined the large contingent of American muscle and fast-fours that usually make up the Whelen USTTC ranks, and they certainly made their presence felt.
The bright orange Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera of Jim Booth wowed spectators and competitors alike as the V-10 screamed around the challenging 3.37 mile VIR circuit.
Booth dominated both days of competition in the TT-1 class, posting a 2:06.77 on Saturday before turning up the heat on Sunday to set a 2:04.172.
Interestingly, Booth also participated in his V10 Viper on Sunday but could only manage a 2:05.666, confirming the Lamborghini’s superior price tag over the Viper is indeed warranted.
Booth’s nearest rival was Doug Wind. Given that Wind’s weapon- a Modern Performance tuned turbo Dodge SRT-4- couldn’t be further from the Lamborghini in every way, shape and form, it was impressive that his times were only just over a second slower around one of the longest and fastest tracks in North America.
And while Wind could only manage second place on both Saturday and Sunday, he stamped his authority- albeit only by two tenths on Sunday- on TT-1 championship rival George MacDonald (Viper Competition Coupe), who finished third both days.
George MacDonald finished third both days in TT-1.
And while the strong points haul extended Wind’s TT-1 championship lead, MacDonald has now fallen behind Tanya Mazyk (Dodge Viper) who, all season, has been quietly building a solid points tally.
European might also proved too strong for the turbo fours and American muscle in the TT-2 class.
Alex Reznikov set a blistering 2:04.164 pace on Saturday afternoon in his black Porsche 997 GT3- a time that beat that of Booth’s Lamborghini on Saturday.
It was too much for David Tenney’s Dodge Neon SRT-4, who finished second, and Tim Jelle’s Dodge Viper GTS, who was third fastest in class on Saturday.
Reznikov didn’t match his Saturday pace on Sunday, however it was still enough to fend off the competition. Jelle, however, found nearly two seconds to close the gap, leapfrogging Tenney to take Sunday’s second placed trophy. Tenney finished third.
The SpeedSouth Corvette of David Leonard won Sunday’s TT-Unlimited competition. © NARRA
Again though, the fastest times of the weekend came from the TT-Unlimited class.
Philip Grabow and team from Element Tuning again threw down the gauntlet to the nation’s top tuning houses. On Saturday their heavily modified Subaru STi was the only car on Saturday to break the 2 minute mark, setting a 1:58.890. The fast-four was a staggering 6.5 seconds faster than the V10 might of TT-U championship points leader Carl Kafarowski’s Dodge Viper ACR, who set a 2:05.682- his personal best of the weekend. John Weigel, in another Viper ACR, finished third.
However all was not lost for American muscle, as a new contender entered TT-Unlimited for Sunday.
The Leonard brothers David and Tom, from SpeedSouth Active Power Racing, had brought their Corvette all the way from Pelham, Alabama to compete in the Whelen USTTC’s sister series, the US GT Championship. After blowing a transmission on Friday evening, their weekend looked bleak. However, the hard work of sourcing and overnighting a new transaxle to the circuit, and installing it with their backs in the Virginia dirt, paid off. Not only did they score two podiums in the USGTC, but they took the time-trial series by storm.
With brother Tom racing,
SpeedSouth’s Leonard brothers pose with their Whelen USTTC and USGTC trophies from VIR. © NARRA
David took the helm of the Corvette in the time-trial competition on Sunday morning. In a salute to the might of cubic-inches he ran over one second faster than Grabow’s Subaru, to set a 1:57.643. The time not only meant SpeedSouth was the new top-dog in town but would also take home the first place trophy in Sunday’s TT-U competition.
With over-heating and electrical issues plaguing Grabow’s Subaru, he had to settle for second place, while Carl Kafarowski took the third step of the podium.
And while by 4pm the competition runs had come to a close, Element Tuning had not given up in their quest to extract more from the STi. With the issues fixed, but on a far from perfect heat-soaked afternoon track, Grabow went out for the final session. While slightly bitter-sweet, Grabow showed what the Subaru was capable of, running a staggering 1:55.996- nearly two seconds faster than Leonard’s Corvette.
So while SpeedSouth’s cubic-inches may have taken home the trophy, one could argue the boosted four-cylinder of Element Tuning’s Subaru still reigns supreme in the Whelen USTTC.
All the action from the weekend was captured using GoPro cameras by the Internal Production Group and will be broadcast later this year on GoRacingTV.com, hosted by motorsport television personality Tom Hnatiw. The battle of the countries best engine tuners, and some of the world’s fastest cars in the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship will continue next month at Motorsport Park Hastings, Nebraska as part of the 2011 Super Sports Car Weekend.
Event images, commentary and results can be found at facebook.com/NARRAonline .