Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Team Cobalt Third Among Grand-Am Cup Manufacturers: Rain turns season-ending race into a tactical crap shoot

Courtesy Dave Arnold

WARREN, Mich., Oct. 8, 2005 – Team Cobalt finished its first year in Grand-Am Cup professional road racing competition third among nine veteran manufacturers who put cars on the starting grids in the ten races.

The 2005 season ended today at VIRginia International Raceway where the 65 cars battled ever-changing weather conditions ranging from downpours to light showers to drizzle, the occasional dry track spell, and six full-course caution periods.

Team Cobalt’s top finishers were Delphi engineer Ed Magner and Jim Holtom, driving one of three ScadaPack Cobalt SS Supercharged entries fielded by Mike Kuznicki’s Georgian Bay Motorsports in Carp, Ontario, CAN. They were ninth in the Sport-Touring class.

Eleventh were GM Performance Division development engineers Chris Berube and Dave Thilineus, in another GBM Cobalt. “This race was development driving in the extreme,” said Berube, the Division’s small cars vehicle performance manager. “The Cobalt’s front-wheel drive configuration was such a huge advantage over cars like the BMWs and Mazdas. In the jobs Dave and I have, we do a lot of wet track driving, and we’ve both raced in the rain, but at these speeds with over 60 cars all around you, and all kicking up water spray, your eyeballs are on sticks the whole time.”

Added Thilineus, a ride and handling development engineer who was part of the team which developed the Antilock Braking System (ABS) for the Cobalt, “This race and the entire season have been a great way to compare Cobalt against our competition.”

“When you convert a production car into a race car, you can enhance the car’s performance characteristics,” he added. “What we’ve done with the Cobalt SS Supercharged is emphasize the production car’s already-substantial acceleration, braking and handling attributes.”

“I’m proud of Chris and Dave,” said John Heinricy, director of the GM Performance Division. “They do a great job in the office, and today they did a great job on the race track under some really tough conditions.”

Ken Wasmer is small car program engineering manager for the Division, which provides engineering and parts assistance to teams racing the Cobalt SS Supercharged. He noted the season’s success.

“We won three races in our first season, had three other podium finishes and qualified on the pole once,” Wasmer said. “This is a very strong first season. What we learned about the Cobalt SS Supercharged in these races will be analyzed over the winter months. When the 2006 season opens at Daytona International Speedway in January, our plan is to be even stronger. We have to be, because our competitors aren’t going to go lie on the beach until then.”

The third Georgian Bay team Cobalt, driven by 18-year old sensation Jamie Holtom, son of Jim Holtom, retired 12 laps into the race when a fuel pump failed. At Mosport last June, Jamie became the youngest race winner in the history of the Grand American Road Racing Association at age 17 years and nine months.

The fourth Cobalt is owned by Bo Roach, who shares his car with Tom Lepper and drives on behalf of Franklin American Mortgage. They finished an uncharacteristic18th at VIR.

In 2004, the GM Performance Division introduced the 205hp Saturn ION Red Line and the 400hp Cadillac CTS-V. The Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged was added last January. In 2006, the Performance Division’s lineup will be joined by the 395hp Chevrolet Trailblazer SS and two upgraded Cadillacs – the 443hp XLR-V and the 469hp STS-V.

The VIRginia International Raceway race will be televised Nov. 13 at 3 p.m. on SPEED

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