Figge Completes World Challenge Sweep

Alex Figge leads teammate Randy Pobst during Sunday's Pirelli World Challenge event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. (Dave Heithaus Photo)
Alex Figge leads teammate Randy Pobst during Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. (Dave Heithaus Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Alex Figge (GT) completed a weekend sweep while Lawson Aschenbach (GTS) took a pivotal win in Round 12 of the Pirelli World Challenge 2013 season, at the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course presented by StopTech Brakes.

It was a dramatic race for both classes as the championship battles intensify.

Figge in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60, led flag-to-flag from the Motul pole position off of the series’ traditional standing start. He had to work for the win because what was a big lead from the outset quickly shrunk as Figge lapped through GTS traffic all race.

Teammate Randy Pobst in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 pushed Figge relentlessly and got within a few tenths of a second the second half of the 30-lap race. Although he was unable to make a passing attempt, he was able to help complete K-PAX Racing’s first 1-2 sweep of 2013.

For Figge, it was his third win this season and second in as many days at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile flowing road course. Asked about his success at the track, Figge responded with “It’s a hard question to answer because we’ve led a lot this year. I feel like we deserved a few early. Mid-Ohio is good for these cars. It’s a place I have driven a lot in my career in open wheel cars. My success here is a combination of experience, a good car, clicking with my new engineer and a slightly different team structure. And we got real lucky today in traffic.”

And on if the weather today and being able to run out front helped:

“Absolutely no question. When we run out front the car is night and day different as far as power goes with the temperature being down with the turbo. At tracks like Lime Rock and the temperatures we had there at 105 degrees we struggle more in conditions like that.”

As in Round 11 on Saturday, the biggest battle on track was for third place. Scoring a crucial podium finish was James Sofronas in the No. 14 GMG/Swisher Racing/Mobil 1 Audi R8 LMS.

Sofronas drove a hard and determined race to hold off a snarling pack behind him, which included all three Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.Rs, GMG teammate Duncan Ende in the No. 24 Services Audi R8 LMS and Mike Skeen in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Chevrolet Corvette.

What Sofronas’ car lacked in top-end, straight line speed it more than made up for in the corners, and as the race went caution-free for the second day in a row, it allowed the Audi to get its Pirelli tires up to optimal working temperatures. None of the cars behind him was able to get past, even through traffic.

The result, coupled with Johnny O’Connell’s retirement from crash damage to his radiator, promoted Sofronas to within 13 points of the GT championship lead with two races remaining in 2013. O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R, pitted on lap 15 and retired shortly thereafter to be classified 11th in GT.

“The GMG Audi guys prepped an awesome car and I ran it flat out today at 100 per cent,” said Sofronas. “Having Johnny behind me is a daunting situation, but I relish the opportunity to run against top shelf guys. My guys said put your head down and make it happen and then we had some contact at the back-end of the track and the next thing I knew Johnny was in the pits. I had nothing for the Volvos to catch them so I just wanted to maintain my position to get some points. It’s gotta be close now going into Sonoma and now the fans have a really good GT championship to follow.”

The intense battle behind Sofronas ended with Andy Pilgrim in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R fourth just edging Skeen at the finish line. Skeen made a passing attempt on the outside of the final left-hand kink leading onto the front straight, hitting the gravel, but maintaining control. Ende finished just behind them in sixth.