Skip to content

May 26, 2009 / reports

Walker, Kuitwaard Post First KONI Challenge ST Victories

LAKEVILLE, CT - Travis Walker passed Ian Baas for the lead with 10 minutes remaining and held on to win Saturday’s Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner race at Lime Rock Park, taking the checkered flag under caution.

Walker co-drove the No. 75 Skunk2/ Honda Civic Si with John Kuitwaard. It was the first KONI Challenge victory for both drivers. Kuitwaard was making his first start with the team in only his second race in the series. Walker led the final nine of 133 circuits in the two hour, 30 minute event.

“I knew if I kept the pressure on the Volkswagen, he’d eventually make one little mistake, and when he made that mistake, I jumped on him,” Walker said of the winning pass. “I didn’t waste the opportunity. I’ve been here three times before and never even ran a green flag lap - the car dropped out each time before I got in. When I saw the final caution, I thought, ‘Thank God. I’m tired. I want this to be over with.’ I haven’t had the best luck in this series, and I finally caught a little good luck at the end.”

Baas and Josh Hurley finished second in the No. 171 APR Tuning/ Gunther VW Volkswagen GTI. Hurley won his first pole in the series earlier Saturday and led 25 laps early in the event, while Baas led for 54 laps before losing the position to Walker.

The race ended under caution after Matt Pritiko, in the No. 76 Skunk2/ Honda Civic Si, and Nick Leverone, in the No. 08 Flatout Motorsports Mazda MX-5, tangled in the downhill turn. Neither driver was injured.

It marked the third victory of the season for Compass360 Racing. Randy Pobst and Christian Miller, who finished fourth in the No. 74 Honda Civic Si, won at Homestead-Miami Speedway and led an unprecedented Compass360 podium sweep at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Miller added two counters to his point lead over Lawson Aschenbach and Pat Iannucci, who finished fifth in the No. 00 T.T.L Chevrolet Cobalt SS. Miller now leads by eight points (143-135), while Ashley McCalmont moving up to third with 129 points after placing third in the No. 01 Georgian Bay Cobalt co-driven by Jamie Holtom, who rejoined the team after winning the 2008 ST championship in that car.

The final caution was the fourth of the event, with Kuitwaard and Walker averaging 81.123 mph. Paul Dalla Lana crashed on lap five in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 328i, while the No. 181 APR Tuning/ BBS Volkswagen GTI of Mike Sweeney and Dion von Moltke twice stopped on course and needed a tow.

Next action for the KONI Challenge will be June 5 at Watkins Glen International, in conjunction with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

(Courtesy Grand-Am)