Subaru Road Racing Team Challenges to the Checkers at the Penultimate Round of GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
– Aquilante to 2nd Until Last-Lap Contact With Race Leader-
Phoenixville, PA. – Sept. 8, 2012 – It was a mixed race weekend for the Subaru Road Racing Team (SRRT) which showed strong promise after a run up to 2nd place by the last lap but ultimately resulted in a 15th place finish at the race’s end.
The suburban Philadelphia-based team traveled cross-country to the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., for the season’s next-to-last round of the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge professional road racing series.
The final race results show team drivers Bret Spaude and Andrew “AJ” Aquilante finished 15th in the 26-car Grand Sports Class with their #35 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, one lap down to the eventual winner. But a moment before the final tally was taken and on the final lap, Aquilante had been harrying the race leader for the win, and was right on the rear bumper of the lead car.
“The story of this race will always be about our cool-headed, experienced pit crew as we executed a seamless final pit stop where we topped up on fuel to make a late race charge for the lead,” said Phoenix Performance team owner Joe Aquilante. “On an earlier [pit] stop, we burned precious time as another team’s car inadvertently blocked the entrance to our pit box.”
“The race had 11 full-course-caution flag situations. The safety car was used to control the field for an amazing 39 of the race’s 71 laps. That’s an awful lot of safety car time, and each one of them forces you to constantly recalculate pit stop strategies.”
The Subaru Road Racing Team entry took the green flag from 10th place in qualifying, with Bret Spaude successfully avoiding problems caused by fellow competitors during his 17 laps at the controls of his #35 Subaru Road Racing Team WRX STI.
SRRT teammate AJ Aquilante slotted into the car as Spaude pitted, while circulating in a solid 7th spot. The tactics for the day were dictated when mishaps caused the safety car to lead the field nine of the first 17 laps.
“AJ made some good passes toward the end to move from 10th to second in 10 laps, but then things went awry. There was no reason to believe he couldn’t have passed the race leader, John Edwards, for the win. But by that point in the race, Edwards had already been hit in the rear and his car had lost its rear bumper. Moreover, though, John’s brake lights weren’t operational. Brake lights are a mandatory within GRAND-AM’s safety rules,” added Joe Aquilante.
“With a win in sight, AJ tapped the leader’s car from behind while initiating the pass, but John’s exposed rear bumper structure tore through our car’s radiator, causing both a coolant and oil leak plus perhaps a small oil fire. Half a lap from a potential win, and suddenly we’re 36th overall, 10th in class, and a lap down.”
“Our team made the most from a race fraught with laps run 11 times and 39 of 71 laps under full-course yellow conditions,” added James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc. “We came very close to putting our #35 Subaru WRX STI on the top podium step, and we’re carrying a healthy level of confidence going into the last round of the series at Lime Rock Park in a two weeks.”