Over the weekend, I watched television coverage of the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at New Jersey Motorsports Park from May 12. In it, the Subaru Road Racing Team #35 WRX STI received considerable coverage. Congratulations, team, on the first win with the WRX STI. It was a long time coming with enough obstacles to make those less committed walk away.
During the race, the team had to overcome a penalty on pit road that put them behind the pack of cars in its class. Being out along the track during a race, I often have no clue what's happening and why the Subaru is where it is. In this case, positions could be counted, and upon one of the restarts after a full-course yellow, we were running approximately 12th. As I photographed #35, I kept count as to where it was in line.
The car kept moving up. Driver Andrew Aquilante seemed to be on a mission, and that mission was to reach the front of the field. He had to work his way past those 11 cars ahead of him. Watching him move to the front was some of the most exciting racing I've ever seen, and it's too bad the television crew couldn't remain on that #35.
Here are images of #35 moving past some of the competitors:
- Passing #99
- Passing #6
- Passing #00
- Passing #38
The passes for 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place were better documented on TV race coverage:
Here is the team's press release about the race:
Aquilante And Spaude “Storm” New Jersey Track, Subaru Team Wins on Home Turf.
- Subaru WRX STI Climbs From 45th to First in 45 Laps. -
Phoenixville, Pa. – May 14, 2012 – The Subaru Road Racing Team (SRRT) drivers Andrew Aquilante and Bret Spaude won round four of the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) race on Saturday at New Jersey Motorsports Park near Millville, N.J.
Although the team qualified on the pole position, Aquilante, Spaude, and their race-prepared #35 Subaru WRX STI, had to charge through the field from 45th place on lap 31, after serving stop-and-go penalties.
Intent on making up for the lost track positions Aquilante marched forward and took the race lead with nine laps to go; and eventually secured the win by a 2.224-second margin. It was the team’s second straight podium finish this season and their first Grand Sport class win in the Subaru WRX STI sedan.
“This win has been coming for a long time,” said Joe Aquilante, owner of Phoenix Performance in Phoenixville, Pa., which prepares the team’s Subaru racecars. “The Subaru excels on track configurations that reward superior handling qualities over outright top speed.”
Bret Spaude, of Bushnell, Fla., earned his first CTSCC series pole position with a 91.373mph lap of the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway configuration of the multi-faceted racetrack. Spaude dropped back to second place at the start and held that position, staying close to the bumper of Lawson Aschenbach’s race-leading car. On lap 25, Spaude pitted for gas, fresh tires, and turned the driving over to teammate Andrew “AJ” Aquilante.
A stop-and-go penalty plus an additional 30 seconds for accidental contact with a neighboring team’s spare tire on the way out of the pit box dropped the team to 45th place. Aquilante went on a determined charge; he was in fourth place by lap 56 when the team called him in for a final pit stop, dropping the Subaru Road Racing Team entry to 12th place after pit out.
On lap 70, Aquilante passed David Donohue for third place, drove by second place Eric Curran on lap 73, and took the race lead on lap 75 as he erased a quarter-second deficit to race leader Charles Espenlaub. Aquilante finished the 83rd and checkered flag lap with a 2.224-second margin over Espenlaub and the rest of the 23-car Grand Sport class, which was part of a 59-car, two-class field.
“I dug myself a hole, when I incurred those pit lane infractions, and just had to drive my way out of it,” Andrew Aquilante explained. “I know we have a great car, and when things like that happen, you just have to stay cool, put your head down and drive the wheels off. Our Subaru WRX STI was running strong all weekend, the handling was superb, and we know this track really well since it’s where we perform most of our on-track testing.”
“To finish on top in completely dry conditions and re-starting after serving our penalties truly shows the performance development from our Subaru WRX STI,” commented James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc. “Our Subaru core technologies, including the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, were firmly on display this weekend. Plus, securing the win in front of our fans at our home track of New Jersey Motorsports Park, where Subaru is the Official Automobile and Pace Car, made this result that much more special.”
The race-prepared #35 Subaru Road Racing Team WRX STI is developed to compete against rival teams fielding cars producing over 400 horsepower.
The next GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race is June 8 – 10 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where the SRRT has won in prior years.
Sponsors for SRRT include Subaru of America, Inc., Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), Hawk Brakes, Ron Davis Racing Radiators, Automotive Racing products, Lista, Rotary Lifts, Carbonetic, and Perrin.
About SRRT Phoenix LLC
SRRT Phoenix LLC represents the Subaru of America, Inc. road racing effort in the 10-round GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series and is owned and managed by Joe Aquilante of Phoenix Performance, LLC. The team’s 32,000 sq. ft. facility is in Phoenixville, Pa., 40 miles west of Philadelphia, Pa. Team drivers Andrew Aquilante and Bret Spaude race a Subaru WRX STI in the Grand Sport class.
For more information about the team and the cars, call Joe Aquilante at 610-482-0141. Fans can visit the team’s website at www.srrtphoenix.com and the Phoenix Performance website at www.phoenixperformance.net.
About Subaru of America, Inc.
Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 600 dealers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. For additional information visit www.subaru.com.
This press release is available at www.media.subaru.com.
“Subaru,” “WRX STI,” all model names, and the Subaru logo are registered trademarks of the Subaru subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd., Japan.
Other trademarks and trade names are those of their respective owners.
-- Ric Hawthorne