Nestled in the hills of the Napa Valley wine country just north of San Francisco, Sonoma’s infamous Infineon Raceway played host to the final event of the 2011 Global Time Attack series on November 11-12.
Infineon’s 2.52-mile 12-turn road course is quite technical and with 160 feet of elevation change just as undulating. The only time attack track records at this facility were set in October of 2010 at a Redline Time Attack.
The 2010 Redline Time Attack was dampened – to put it mildly – by what some were calling “the hundred year storm” (just like Bodhi predicted!). A torrential storm coupled with Infineon’s poor runoff made for soft times.
During the Global Time Attack rain was forecast throughout the weekend – not uncommon for this time of year – but fortunately the event only saw showers on Day One and Day Two allowed for dry sessions. In the end seven track records were set at the GTA event, one of which was an overall time attack record.
Infineon’s overall time attack track record was set by none other the FXMD team. The team’s Unlimited GT RWD NSX program had been on a long hiatus and during that time it was treated to a new livery and more importantly aero upgrades courtesy of their in-house aerodynamicist, Andrew Brilliant. The FXMD NSX was also helmed by a new driver, Tyler McQuarrie who was fresh off a win at the Formula Drift finals at Iriwindale. McQuarrie was subbing in for Billy Johnson who has been racing in Grand-Am for Roush-Fenway. No word on whether McQuarrie was a temporary or permanent substitution but his mega 1:34.564 record lap left no one questioning his capabilities.
The Infineon track record capped off quite the week for the FXMD team as they also set the Buttonwillow time attack track record with a 1:40.090 at the Super Lap Battle finals just two days before our GTA event. You can see the Buttonwillow record lap here and the Infineon record here. You can also read McQuarrie’s recount of his GTA win on his blog here.
The big fight that everyone wanted to see was between FXMD and GST Motorsports. Infineon is GST’s home track and the team has easily taken the overall win at the first three GTA events of 2011. GST’s driver, Jeff Westphal is an instructor at Infineon’s Jim Russell Racing School with McQuarrie and the two are teammates on the Insight Racing Grand-Am BMW program. This was set to be both a friendly rivalry and a heated battle.
While Westphal won the Unlimited GT AWD division and set a class record with his 1:37.058 lap this was nearly two and half seconds slower than the time from the FX NSX and well off the 1:32 that sources close to the team predicted for the GST Impreza. During Westphal’s record lap (see it here) it was suspected that the center diff broke causing the car to pull off-line in wild fashion in the corners and forcing Westphal to fight the Unlimited Subaru around Infineon’s technical course. Not the ideal situation for a record attempt. To add insult to injury GST team principle Mike Warfield discovered after the event that the problem was not mechanical but rather a software glitch in the Modena sequential dog box, which uses its own ECU. After a quick reboot the Impreza is now fully operational. The big question remains as to what would have happened had GST discovered this at the track. Such is motorsports and we will have to wait until these two heavyweights meet again.
Another heavyweight in the Unlimited GT ranks is Chris Rado and his Team Need for Speed WORLD Racing Scion team. Much like FXMD Rado also pulled double duty by running at the Buttonwillow Superlap Battle right before the GTA at Infineon. And much like FXMD Rado also set a FWD record (see the lap here). As expected when you try to extract some 1,100hp from a 2.5L four cylinder the team is experiencing some teething problems with the new powerplant. Because of this Rado was only able to take one big flier before cylinder head troubles sidelined Fwing 2.0. And as it turned out one lap was all the team needed as Rado set the FWD record at Infineon with a 1:45.320 (see the lap here and the team re-cap here). Rado is confident that once the engine is completely dialed and with more time on the track he can get his tC into the sub 1:40 range, which is both amazing and not utterly impossible given the limited development of the new engine program and his limited time on the track.
Infineon local and NASA regular Will Faules was another Unlimited GT class standout in the EDGE Motorworks BMW. This was the little E30 Three Series that could as Faules went 1:46.116 to come in Second in Unlimited GT RWD. Faules’ lap time had many in the paddock questioning what sort of power the 3 had. While Faules admitted the car had an E36 M3 drivetrain swap (very cool!) it was stock and made only 240whp. Credit proper chassis set-up and Faules’ knowledge of Infineon’s technical layout for this quick time.
Matt “Hollywood” Guiver drove the Biggie Motorsports Group Nissan 240SX and while his 1:50.780 put him in Third place in Unlimited GT RWD a turbo failure ended the team’s weekend prematurely. If GTA had a long haul award one of the finalists would have surely been team principle Aaron “Biggie” Brown and his BMG crew as they made the long trek out from Utah’s SLC.
This is Sean Kohmescher’s very clean BMW E30 M3. Kohmescher’s best lap was a 1:55.528, which placed him at P4 in the Unlimited GT RWD class.
Tony Szirka serves as our GTA race steward, which means he’s in charge of conducting our tech inspections on each and every one of the cars that compete in our time attacks. But Szirka’s day job is as owner and operator of UMS Tuning in Mesa, AZ. In addition to all of these duties Szirka campaigns this UMS Tuning Unlimited GT AWD Evo 8. To get to GTA Szirka had to leave his UMS tech/time attack crewmember Richard Yan in Mesa to take care of the shop.
Szirka made the solo trip from Mesa stopping off at the Buttonwillow Superlap Battle before making his way up I-5 to Infineon. The results were a win at Buttonwillow and a Second place lap at Infineon in Unlimited GT AWD but this was no easy trip to each of the two podiums for Tony. First he had a cam sensor wiring issue at Buttonwillow that prompted a late night test and tune session on the dyno at Warfield’s GST Motorsports in nearby Hayward, CA. Then on Day One of our GTA Szirka lost fourth gear in his Evo. This is where the GTA community comes into the picture. Sean Mackenzie loaned Szirka a transmission and LIC Motorsports opened their doors after hours and offered to help along with the crews from Snail Performance and Professional Awesome. This late night gearbox swap allowed Szirka to get back on track for the dry conditions on Day Two where Szirka ran a 1:47.367 in an early session. Unfortunately after all of that work the UMS Evo’s oil pump failed in the third session ending Szirka’s GTA event early. Nonetheless a valiant effort from Szirka and an amazing show of sportsmanship from some of the top GTA teams.
Russ Taylor’s FusionofIdeas.com Mitsubishi Evo X normally competes in the Limited GT class but at Infineon the car ran on Unlimited GT class tires. Taylor’s 1:56.201 put him in Third place in Unlimited GT AWD.
Before the first GTA Infineon session even went green Limited GT AWD was shaping up to be a slugfest and with seven cars entered it looked to be exactly that. However one of the top contenders JC Meynet and his OMG Racing STI pulled out only days before the event citing a blown engine during dyno testing. While LIC Motorsports was hungry to exact revenge in a head-to-head battle with JC the team would have to settle for an outright victory as well as a class record from Gary Sheehan’s very fast 1:41.888.
Infineon marked the first time for Sheehan driving the LIC car in competition but he has helped the team with their set up in addition to driving the GST Motorsports and WORLD Racing Unlimited GT cars in the past. Infineon is also the home track for both Sheehan and LIC Motorsports. Sheehan is the marketing director for COBB Tuning and at Infineon COBB’s lead tuner Tim Bailey was also helping the team tune the LIC Motorsports STI (read COBB’s event report here). The addition of Bailey into the mix was a fortuitous one as LIC co-team principle Noah Levy told us that their STI came into Infineon with a 150whp gain when compared to the 2010 setup. With the record and the win sewn up LIC laid it all out on the table during the last session but a catastrophic rod failure prevented a faster time. You can read LIC’s event recap here).
The 034Motorsport Limited GT AWD Audi A4 is a well-known car in time attack circles. But the last time the car turned a wheel was at a Redline Time Attack at Willow Springs in July of 2010. Driver Christian Miller told us he dusted off the car just for Infineon and when it rolled out of the trailer it was literally covered in what appeared to be 18 months of dust. While Miller has logged countless laps at Infineon before the GTA it had been many years since he last lapped this circuit. It didn’t take long for either the driver or car to shake off the cobwebs as the 034Motorsport held the fastest time after the semi-wet conditions on Day One. After the final session the 034 Audi held onto Second place in Limited GT AWD with a time of 1:43.261.
The FFTEC Evo is a “street car” and the only modification prompting the quotation marks is the lack of a catalytic converter, which bumped the car into the Limited GT AWD class. John Groff did not let the fact that his Evo was “outclassed” (we’re on a “quote” roll here) faze him one bit and he put the FFTEC car onto the podium with a 1:49.596.
Kyle Hatch is the 2011 Lap Battle Champion at Miller Motorsports Park and this earned him and his RaceCo ZipTie Limited GT AWD Mitsubishi Evo 8 an invitation to the GTA Infineon event. Hatch convoyed with the BMG crew from the SLC and his 1:50.673 put him in Fourth place.
Adam Aquino fought back from the brink to post a time at the inaugural GTA earlier this year at Willow Springs. At that very first GTA Aquino literally rebuilt the engine in his Double-A Engineering Limited GT AWD Subaru STI by honing one of the cylinder bores overnight with 1,000 grit sandpaper from a local auto parts store. But at Infineon there was no amount of MacGyverizing Aquino could do to repair a broken valve following Friday’s sessions. This left Aquino’s 2:29.864 in the wet to stand as his best time of the event.
Mark Arcenal’s Fatlace “Pandora One” 1990 Porsche 964 911 C4 made its competition debut at the GTA Infineon event. A surprising development considering the Rauh-Welt Begriff machine is a demo car that just debuted on the carpet at the Falken booth in The SEMA Show. Arcenal was content to lap without a transponder and thus without a time as he took the opportunity to shake down his Porsche at this event.
Another debut at Infineon was the red paint and livery on Luke Lonberger’s Blu808 Corvette. Infineon also marked the first time a professional drift car has entered a GTA event as Lonberger was a top 32 finisher in the 2011 Formula Drift Championship standings. Infineon is Lonberger’s home track however he still needed to make changes – most notably the front brakes and suspension settings – to the Corvette at his Blu808 shop in nearby Campbell, CA in order to transform the car from drifter to time attacker. While Lonberger struggled to keep the car straight the modifications fit the bill as his 1:49.689 reset the Limited GT RWD class record.
In Limited GT FF Pete Bovenberg set a class record in his MBO Honda Civic with a very fast 1:51.964 – faster still when you take into consideration that the 2000 Si is naturally aspirated. At Infineon Bovenberg was also competing in the United States Touring Car Championship finals, where he finished second in points. We would have awarded Bovenberg bonus points only because his Civic looks just like Ja Rule’s Integra in The Fast and the Furious.
Without fail Professional Awesome have dominated every Global Time Attack they’ve entered (three of this season’s four events) with wins and track records at each outing and Infineon was no exception with the team’s 1:47.648 record-breaking lap (see it here). These guys run on a frayed shoestring of a budget but what they lack in resources they more than make up for with raw talent and ingenuity. With Daniel O’Donnell driving, Mike Lewin as the crew chief, Grant Davis as the mechanic and their well-engineered Evo 7 the PA team have proven to be a formidable combination in the Street Tire class. You can read PA’s recap of their Infineon experience here.
The Snail Performance crew was supposed to be represented by Travis Barnes and his Limited GT AWD WRX. However when Barnes’ car could not be completed in time Taylor Wilson’s WRX was pressed into service. Wilson campaigned the car at the Buttonwillow Superlap Battle finishing in Second at that event and followed it up with another Second place finish at Infineon with his 1:54.361.
Before this final GTA of 2011 the buzz was about the battle between Professional Awesome and this car, the Street GT AWD Subaru WRX of Apollo Performance. However it was not to be as Gino Reyna’s team was plagued by a mechanical when they lost a pinion gear on Friday. Fortunately Aquino from Double-A Engineering had a replacement in a storage unit about 45 minutes away from the track. After an inspiring thrash in order to get the car running the Apollo team did not have enough track time to nail the set up. This was doubly hard on Apollo’s driver, Clint Boisdeau who has had great success at Infineon in rainy conditions. At this event the best the team could muster was a 1:56.716.
This concludes the inaugural 2011 Global Time Attack season. The complete results from Infineon are posted below and you can see a gallery of images here. Plans are already in place for next season as you can find the complete 2012 GTA schedule posted here. The first round will see GTA running on hallowed time attack ground at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on April 21-22. More information will be posted shortly.
Global Time Attack Infineon Final Results
Unlimited GT AWD
P1: Jeff Westphal – GST Motorsports Subaru Impreza – 1:37.058 (class record)
P2: Tony Szirka – UMS Tuning Mitsubishi Evo 8 – 1:47.367
P3: Russ Taylor – FusionofIdeas.com Mitsubishi Evo X – 1:56.201
Unlimited GT RWD
P1: Tyler McQuarrie – FX Motorsports Development NSX – 1:34.564 (track record)
P2: Will Faules – EDGE Motorworks BMW E30 Three Series – 1:46.116
P3: Matt “Hollywood” Guiver – Biggie Motorsports Group Nissan 240SX – 1:50.780
P4: Sean Kohmescher – BMW E30 M3 – 1:55.528
Unlimited GT FF
P1: Chris Rado – Team Need For Speed WORLD Racing Scion tC – 1:45.320 (class record)
Limited GT AWD
P1: Gary Sheehan – LIC Motorsports Subaru STI – 1:41.888 (class record)
P2: Christian Miller – 034Motorsport Audi A4 – 1:43.261
P3: John Groff – FFTEC Mitsubishi Evo – 1:49.596
P4: Kyle Hatch – RaceCo ZipTie Mitsubishi Evo 8 – 1:50.673
P5: Adam Aquino – Double-A Engineering Subaru STI – 2:29.864
P6: Mark Arcenal – Fatlace 1990 Porsche 964 911 C4 – N/T
Limited GT RWD
P1: Luke Lonberger – Blu 808 Chevrolet Corvette – 1:49.689 (class record)
Limited GT FF
P1: Pete Bovenberg – MBO 2000 Honda Civic Si – 1:51.964 (class record)
Street GT AWD
P1: Daniel O’Donnell – Professional Awesome Mitsubishi Evo VII – 1:47.648 (class record)
P2: Taylor Wilson – Snail Performance Subaru WRX – 1:54.361
P3: Clint Boisdeau – Apollo Performance Subaru WRX – 1:56.716