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  Archive of Audi S4 Race Reports/News/Photos 2001  
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Audi S4  2001  -  2002 



  2001 Speedvision GT World Challenge GT Series  

Sebring International Raceway - Friday, 16 March

The second round of the Speedvision World Challenge GT series brought with it one of the most exciting races in the series' history today, as Michael Galati, who had qualified third, overtook early leader P.D. Cunningham's Acura and led a close-fought battle throughout the race, only to be passed by Cunningham as the two approached the white flag. Cunningham held on to take the Sebring win over Galati at the checkers.

Earlier, in qualifying, the Champion Racing Audi S4 Competition's had placed third (Galati) and seventh (Bell) on the starting grid. Bell's S4 had been hampered all week by a persistent fuel system problem that was finally tracked down to a too-small fitting in an aftermarket supplier-assembled fuel hose. When the proper-sized fitting was put in place the car's performance returned to normal, and Bell's crew looked forward to a solid race. And a good thing, because Bell's car was carrying no less than four Speedvision onboard cameras, including a "Suspension Cam" and a new "Bumper Cam", located below the Audi's front bumper.

The thirty-one car GT field assembled on Sebring's front straight late Friday afternoon, for the series' trademark standing start. At the start Cunningham jumped into the lead, with Galati moving into second. Just two laps later Galati overtook the Acura and led nearly the full race distance (including two full-course caution periods) from a hard-charging Cunningham. Bell's Audi had a suspected overheating problem right at the start and at first it looked as though his race was over. Fortunately for the Champion crew and Speedvision viewers, Bell managed to get back underway and complete the race, though a lap down in 24th place.

With just a handful of laps remaining the second full-course caution flag came out. After a quick cleanup from an on-track incident the race resumed with just five laps remaining. The Acura was right on Galati's bumper. Cunningham hounded Galati all over the 3.7-mile circuit in the final laps, making numerous attempts to pass in the sweeping turn 17. As the two were about to come to the white flag, Cunningham looked to go to the inside as he had tried before, but then went outside of Galati, passing the Audi on the outside of the 180 degree corner, earning the Rogaine Hair Raising Pass of the Day in the process. Cunningham led the final tour, topping Galati by a mere 0.381-second, averaging 76.892 mph. "Michael drove a great race," said Cunningham, who broke the tie with Lou Gigliotti for the most career World Challenge race wins.

Cunningham's win tied him with Galati for the Championship points lead after two of 10 rounds, with 62. It also knotted up the Manufacturers' Championship between Acura and Audi, at 16. "The Audi Quattro was just great," said Galati, of North Olmstead, Ohio via Italy. "It was a wonderful race. A fantastic race. When PD [Cunningham] passed me on the way to the white flag, it really did not surprise me. There was just nothing I could do. He ran a good race."

A sad finish to a happy day...

Even as the Champion Racing team was celebrating their second-place showing in Sebring's Victory Lane, came word that 58-year old sportscar racing legend and long-time Champion driver and friend, Bob Wollek, had died just two hours earlier when his bicycle was struck from behind by a car, not far from the track. Wollek's career is the stuff of legend, but his loss is particularly deeply-felt by the entire Champion family, who were privileged to know and work with Bob during the past few years as part of Champion's Porsche racing program, most recently at this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona. Known to the team affectionately as "Uncle Bob", Wollek's death left everyone at Champion reeling as Friday at Sebring drew to a close. Bob will be sorely missed by the entire Champion family, and by racing enthusiasts worldwide...

  Speedvision GT Sebring Starting Lineup:

1. (81), Johannes van Overbeek, Porsche 911 Cup, 2:21.485sec

2. (42), Peter Cunningham, Acura NSX, 2:21.510

3. (9), Michael Galati, Audi S4 Comp., 2:21.767

4. (38), Mike Fitzgerald, Porsche 911 Cup, 2:22.042

5. (01), Bill Cooper, Corvette C5, 2:22.313

6. (1), Jeff McMillin, BMW M3, 2:22.314

7. (8), Derek Bell, Audi S4 Comp., 2:23.145

Speedvision GT Sebring Final Results:

1. Peter Cunningham, Acura NSX

2. Michael Galati, Audi S4 Comp

3. Johannes van Overbeek, Porsche 911 Cup


24. Derek Bell, Audi S4 Comp
On the Starting Grid Waiting for the Start Galati under attack from Cunningham
The crew watches the race unfold... Galati and Cunningham Celebrate Two Races - Two Podium Finishes
Tuesday Testing - Bell Tuesday Testing - Bell Tuesday Testing - Galati
Tuesday Testing - Galati Tuesday Testing at Sebring Tuesday Testing - Bell
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