The Lime Rock Park Pirelli World Challenge marked the first event this season in which ANSA Motorsports entered three race cars. Drivers of the three Reiter Engineering KTM X-Bow GT4s were Brett Sandberg, Hugh Plumb and Bill Ziegler.
Even if the event had the potential to bring ANSA Motorsports drivers more trophies than it did, Sandberg, driving the No. 13 ANSA KTM, scored two pole positions for rounds 9 and 10 during the Connecticut race weekend and finished second in round 9, after an epic battle with his direct championship rival, Lawson Aschenbach. That new podium finish brings the total podiums for Sandberg to five this season, with five pole positions in 10 races.
For the Lime Rock weekend, ANSA Motorsports brought experienced sports-car driver, Hugh Plumb, to help Sandberg regain the lead in the GTS championship. Plumb was making a comeback to the Pirelli World Challenge series, and the driver from Unionville, Pennsylvania, had less than 50 minutes of driving time to get acquainted with his new KTM X-Bow GT4, before race 1 of 2 at Lime Rock. Plumb showed some speed quickly and was third fastest in the practice session before qualifying. He qualified eighth for round 9, and after a long and tough race, he finished ninth in his first race with ANSA Motorsports.
After a rewarding briefing with the Reiter Engineering and ANSA Motorsports engineers and a good night of sleep, Plumb had positive expectations and wanted to deliver a good result to his new team in race 2. Right after the start, Plumb and Sandberg’s race cars showed that they were two of, if not the, fastest GTS race cars around the seven-turn 1.5-mile road course. Plumb was quickly up to speed in the second race. Unfortunately after his excellent start, Plumb, who qualified ninth and was aiming for his first 2016 GTS podium finish with the Miami Gardens, Florida, team, got pushed by Parker Chase and spun on the grass. Plum lost time in the incident and, despite returning to the track to finish the race hard, he scored a 10th-place finish.
Sandberg’s race 2, battling with championship leader Aschenbach, was an intense 45 minutes of racing. From the standing start, pole-sitter Sandberg, in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4, got a solid launch into the lead heading for turn one, but with his more powerful V8 engine, it was Aschenbach, who took the outside line around Big Bend and came out first. As in race 1, the two continued to battle really hard for 40 minutes. With five minutes left, Sandberg got to the inside of Aschenbach down the back straight, as the two went improbably side-by-side through the chicane and up the hill, and then continued side-by-side for a thrilling moment in West Bend, before Aschenbach powered back into the lead down the hill.
Two laps later, Sandberg, who was racing in front of his home crowd, tried another pass, and this time, he scored the lead, exiting the right-hander onto the back stretch, earning him the Cadillac ATS-V Move of the Race Award. Sandberg then lost control in the chicane before Lime Rock’s uphill, and collected Aschenbach in an explosion of bodywork, as he spun. It is difficult to blame Sandberg for the result of his move, since any driver going after a win and a championship would have raced hard, as he did. He was 11th and was lucky enough to score enough points to save his second place in the GTS driver championship, acquired after his second place the day before.
The third KTM X-Bow GT4 entered by ANSA Motorsports at Lime Rock was piloted by Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, racer, Bill Ziegler. Ziegler was returning to the Pirelli World Challenge series after a nine-month absence. The No. 9 Swisher Racing KTM was brand new, and Ziegler had a mistake-free weekend. Ziegler finished 11th in race 1 and 8th in race 2. Not bad for a driver with no racing training since September 2015!
GTS action from Lime Rock Park will air on CBS Sports Network Thursday, June 9, at 8 p.m. EDT.
Pirelli World Challenge heads next to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and the famed Road America, June 23-26.
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