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woodym3
01-22-2009, 06:25 PM
The Grand-Am's Koni Challenge series kicks off tomorrow with a 3-Hour race at Daytona International Speedway. This year the series actually has a longer name - the Koni Sports Car Challenge, but I will continue to refer to just the Koni Challenge. This series has evolved from the IMSA Firehawk series that began in the mid-80s. At times it has been known as the Motorola Cup, and the Grand-Am Cup. The number of classes has shrunk from four to two - Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST). The rules limit the modifications and weight reductions that can be done to the cars, and they vary by make and model in an attempt to equalize the performance potential of all cars in each class. This has been my favorite series for a long time due to the number of BMWs running, the close racing, and the fact that these cars are closest to the street and track cars that we drive. In recent years the fields in each class had gotten so large that it was necessary to run separate races for each class on all but the longest tracks. They have always run together at the season-opening Daytona event however.

At Daytona there are 35 entries in GS and 34 in ST. These numbers are down from recent years. In GS there are 14 Mustang GTs, 11 BMW M3s, 9 Porsche 911/997s, and 1 new Dodge Challenger. Expect to see the new Chevy Camaro later in this season. The BMW Z4 M Coupe entered by Motorsports Technology Group of Richmond last season is missing this year. The eleven M3s are all entered by one of four teams. Kinetic Motorsports has 4 new E92 M3s listed, and Fall-Line Motorports of Chicago has 2 of the same model. Turner Motorsports of Boston is returning with 2 E46 M3s and Automatic Racing of Orlando has entered 3 E46s. Not only must the more powerful E92s run with more weight, they are required to use an aftermarket Bosch ECU that may restrict their power.

In the ST class, there are five BMWs, competing against eight other makes. The BMWs include an E90 328i, a Z4, and three E46 330s. The others include Audi TT, Chevy Cobalt SS, Dodge STR4, Honda Civic, Mazda MX-5 and RX-8, Mini Cooper S, Subaru Legacy, and VW GTI. Locally, the BMW 330 of Ted Giovanis, co-driven by Paul Moorcones, is not entered this year, but look for an E90 328i that is being built by Road Race Technologies for Barry Battle and Michael Dayton to be running by the third event. This will be at the nearby Thunderbolt Raceway in Millville, New Jersey on May 1 and 2. The next closest Koni event to us will be the season-ending twin 6-hour races at VIR.

Television coverage of the Koni series is sporatic and when it is shown (on Speed TV) it is usually delayed a week or two.

woodym3
01-22-2009, 10:43 PM
A Mustang qualified on the pole for the Koni Challenge race, followed by the Automatic Racing E46 M3 of Jeff Segal and the Turner Motorsports E46 M3 of Bill Auberlen. The best E92 M3 was a Kinetic Motorsports entry in 8th place. In the ST class a Subaru Legacy, Honda Civic and VW GTI were 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The best BMW was the Turner Motorsports E90 328 in 7th position. The three hour race starts at 1:45pm on Friday.

woodym3
01-23-2009, 09:16 AM
My sources tell me it was actually Matt Bell who qualified the #96 Turner M3 in 3rd place, not Auberlen.