Rookies David Cheng and Aleks Altberg took the first Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge win of their careers – and the first of the year for APR Motorsport – in the twilight of Friday night at the demanding Road America circuit.
The win stretched APR Motorsport’s winning record in the CTSCC’s ST class to four straight seasons, and also scored a win for the no. 171 APR VW GTI – one of the original Mk.5 GTI’s built by the team when it joined the series in 2008.
From his sixth starting position, Nate Norenberg drove the no. 161 APR VW GTI to the front of the field, taking the lead at the end of the first hour. When Norenberg pitted to hand over to teammate Josh Hurley, the no. 171 APR VW GTI took over the lead of the ST race. Running consistent laps throughout the middle part of the race, Altberg ran in the top three until the final hour of the race. When the race went green after the race’s fifth caution, Altberg was in second but drove his VW to the lead with a little over 40 minutes remaining.
The race for Hurley, who had raced up to tenth, ended with 20 minutes remaining when he was caught up in a massive, multiple-car incident. His APR VW GTI was too damaged to continue.
However, that caution set up a late-race dash to the checkered. Altberg pulled away from the field and held on for a narrow victory.
“My whole plan was to take it easy on the car and give it to Aleks in a good position with lots of brakes left,” said Cheng. “I let a couple of guys go who were being really aggressive because I didn’t want to use up the car. Once I got out of the car and Aleks got it, it was an extremely nerve-racking race for me. We needed a certain amount of yellow and we got it, and it is so great to get our first win and the first win of the year for the team. We’ve had a lot of bad luck and I think all the guys needed a good result, and I’m glad that we could deliver it to them.”
For Altberg, who led eighteen laps, the victory was a strong turnaround in form after a rough start to the season – especially after an early season crash at Barber that destroyed the first no. 171 APR VW GTI to see action this year.
“I think I was biting my fingernails off inside the car,” said Altberg. “I saved the car for the end of the race to make sure we had plenty of tires and brakes left. We got enough yellows and on the last couple of restarts, I was able to get a good restart and get a gap. I don’t know what would have happened if there had been another lap, the Honda was coming! But I’m so happy to get our win, it hasn’t sunk in yet but this definitely gives us more confidence for the rest of the season.”
The no. 131 APR VW Jetta GLI of Juan Alvarez and Juan Pablo Sierra had a strong run curtailed when Sierra made contact with the wall with just under an hour left. Sierra had been running in 15th position when he went off.
The CTSCC race from Road America will be broadcast on Sunday, July 8, at 12:00 PM ET on SPEED Channel. The next CTSCC race, the Continental Tire 150, will be at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. on Saturday, June 30 at 3:00 PM ET.