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Mazda has a very rich heritage in racing and motorsports, and now they’ll be able to share highlights from their Mazda-centric series of races through the Velocity network.
“The Mazda Motorsports Hour” will be a regularly-scheduled hour-long weekend show on Velocity and will have an emphasis on SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear, and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
“Hardcore fans know that some of the most intense action can be found in the Playboy MX-5 Cup, Star Mazda and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. But if you weren’t at the race, you are left to take our word for it. Now, thanks to a partnership with Velocity, and Carolinas Production Group, fans can enjoy the action on a regular basis from their living room,” noted Jim Jordan, Alternative Marketing Manager, Mazda North America.
Hosting the show will be Rick Benjamin, who is an award-winning motorsports broadcaster. Racers Randy Pobst and James Hinchcliffe will also be in the booth while Todd Lewis will be the pit reporter. 24 shows in total will be broadcasted this season from April through November and will be on tape delay, so don’t expect any live action.
Competing in the SCCA World Challenge series, the K-Pax Volvo has carried on this year sporting the same bodywork as the previous generation S60 sedan. But with the new 2011 S60 now out, some more svelte sheetmetal was in order. Or should we say carbon fiber, as the shapely new body of this touring car is made almost entirely from the black weave.
If you’re not familiar with the car, or the series, and are wondering just what a Volvo is doing involved in motorsports, well, the K-Pax team’s records speak for themselves. Last year they were Series Champions in the hotly contested GT Class, while pilot Randy Pobst took the overall driver’s championship.
See photos of the finished car, as well as the development process below.
GALLERY: K-Pax Racing Volvo S60R GT
And hit the jump to watch a video of AutoGuide editor Colum Wood getting a ride in the previous S60 by K-Pax driver Randy Pobst:
Randy Pobst’s racing resume is extensive having clinched Speed World Challenge GT championships in 2003, 2007 and 2008. Perhaps well known for driving the Tri-Point Mazda 6 from 2004-2007, Pobst joined the K-PAX team in 2007 and 2008, clinching the championship in their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car. But that’s all history now as Pobst has taken yet another championship (in the GT Class) for K-PAX, but this time in their Volvo S60.
Despite still having one more race at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah during October 1-3rd, Pobst has already locked down the championship thanks to a 212 point lead over second place, James Sofronas. Volvo has also clinched the manufacturers’ championship for 2010 with a 12 point lead over Porsche heading into the final race.
Pobst was able to lock down the championship with a second place finish at Virginia International Raceway. Pobst’s teammate, Andy Pilgrim, took the victory at the event in the #8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 – giving K-PAX Racing a 1-2 sweep of the podium.
A huge congratulations to the team, and to Randy Pobst for adding onto his already impressive driving resume.
Several weeks back, while at Mosport International Raceway, we had the opportunity for a ride-along in one of the World Challenge race cars. The series provided a lineup of different models, including a race-prepped Acura TSX, a Dodge Viper and a Volvo S60. Under most circumstances, we’d choose the Viper – but not this time. You see, while the TSX runs in the mid-level GTS class, the Volvo is a serious track monster, competing in the top-level GT Class alongside the Viper and other high-powered machines.
The term “competing” is a bit misleading, however, with series veteran Randy Pobst driving the K-Pax Racing Volvo to victory two and a half seconds head of the Viper in race one of the weekend. Pobst then managed a second place finish in race number two, succumbing to the faultless skills of Ron Fellows, a man who’s won so many international championships for Corvette Racing that they named a car after him. Oh, and did we mention this is Fellows’ home track? They don’t call him the Mayor of Mosport for nothing.
And as excited to get a ride in the Volvo S60 as we were, the decision was made that much easier when we found out the Pobst himself would be driving.
Now at these sorts of ride-alongs the pace is usually set at 6/10ths or 7/10ths, as much for legal reasons as to not scare the participating journalists too much. Having met Randy before and with close ties with both the series and the K-Pax team we made a special request for an all-out hot lap on what is easily one of the world’s fastest race tracks.
Randy said he’d oblige.
GALLERY: K-Pax Volvo S60 Race Cars
Ron Fellows may have retired from full-time racing duties with Corvette Racing and the American Le Mans Series, but he proved this weekend that he’s still the Mayor of Mosport in a Corvette.
The Mississauga, Ontario native and Corvette Racing legend has always been hard to beat around his home track, Mosport International Raceway, so it should come as no surprise that he claimed the top step on the podium during Sunday’s World Challenge event from behind the wheel of the Carlisle Companies/Cragar Wheels Chevrolet Corvette. The win didn’t come easy though, starting 2nd to Randy Pobst in the K-Pax Volvo S60 and having been passed off the start by Kuno Wittmer’s Dodge Viper.
Fellows quickly battled back against Wittmer, passing his fellow Canadian in Turn 10 before turning his sights on race leader Pobst. Running down the K-Pax Volvo, Fellows turned a record fastest race lap of 1:23.828 (105.602 mph), a feat that thrilled the hometown crowd. On lap 15, Fellows and Pobst went side-by-side down the front straight and through Turn 1, splitting the Touring Car Mazda RX-8 of Eric Meyer between Turns 1 and 2. Fellows managed to take the inside line for the downhill left hander and slowly pulled away from Pobst from that point on.
According to Fellows, ”I got a terrible start, but other than that it was just a matter of being patient. Even though I hadn’t raced here much lately, it comes back to you. To be honest, the slick conditions may have helped. I was hoping it stayed overcast, but our car is lighter than the Volvos and that was probably better. It was a lot of fun, and feels good.”
Having spent the day before at Laguna Seca for Corvette Racing’s 50th anniversary of racing at Le Mans, Fellows’ win at Mosport might not have happened if he’d missed his connecting flight from San Francisco to Toronto, having literally made the connection with 3 minutes to spare. As Fellows reported on his personal website, he was very pleased to have been able to race at Mosport on this historic weekend for Corvette Racing and because he hadn’t raced at his home track since 2007.
Pobst’s runner-up finish in the Volvo, combined with his Saturday race win at Mosport, extended his point lead to 47 over Wittmer and the Dodge Motorsports Viper (541 to 494), followed by Crescentini in the Centric Parts/Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 (420), Andy Pilgrim (383) and Daskalos in his Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper (379). Volvo also extended its point lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship to seven (35 to 28) over Porsche. Dodge is third with 26.
The No. 34 Kleinschmidt/Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette topped the standings yesterday during the first round of practice sessions before the World Challenge GT season opener at Sebring International Raceway this Friday. Driver Tony Gaples of Libertyville, Ill., was just as surprised at his finish as anyone.
“It feels pretty good [to be on top], of course, but it also makes me a little nervous,” Gaples said of his unfamiliar position. “I’m wondering why, because I’m just driving like normal.
“The track was a little slippery, which plays into my benefit, because I’m used to driving in the wet. It’s good to be at the top. We’ve been coming here seven years now. It’s my favorite flat track and we usually do pretty well here. It still surprised me that we’re number one though. We get to enjoy for the next eight hours, until the next practice. We always hope to do well, whether that’s what’s happening or not is yet to be seen.”
Gaples ran a 2:11.686 around the 3.7-mile, 17-turn Sebring course on his second to last lap.
The 2nd and 3rd spots for the day belonged to Porsches with Rob Morgan posting a 2:11.771 in his No. 47 EverCleanse/NADA/TruSpeed Porsche 911 GT3 and Tony Rivera finishing with a best of 2:11.855 in the No. 97 Tax Masters/Mirage Group Porsche 911 GT3.
Gunter Schaldach grabbed 4th with a 2:12.083 in the No. 9 Lala Motorsports Dodge Viper with another Corvette (the No.3 Whelen Engineering machine driven by Eric Curran) rounding out the top five.
With surprises at the top of the pack, there were also plenty of surprises at the bottom with defending GT champ Randy Pobst completing just half a lap in his K-PAX Volvo S60. Other series frontrunners, Andy Pilgrim (Volvo S60), James Sofronas (Porsche 911 GT3) and Dino Crescentini (Porsche 911 GT3)never even got onto the track.
As for the lone Lamborghini entry, the No. 7 Gallardo driven by Dan Pastorini, it finished a distant 20th with a time of 2:30.707.
Full Practice Session results after the jump:
Volvo has returned to pro-racing in North America and will field a team of S60 race cars in the 2009 SPEED World Challenge GT series.
This is no half-assed effort either as Volvo is working with K-PAX/3R Racing. In past years K-PAX has fielded a team of Porsche GT3 Cup cars that have had tremendous success. In fact, K-PAX driver Randy Pobst clinched the Drivers Championship last year.
Volvo has competed in the series in the past, however, the efforts were not wholehearted. The company can, however, lay claim to one particularly impressive win when in 2006 Michael Galati lapped almost every car in the field to race to victory at Mosport International Raceway.
“We’re associated with a great race team, so yes, we have high hopes for a great season,” said Volvo’s Vice President of Public Affairs Geno Effler. “World Challenge fans may ask early on, ‘What’s Volvo doing here?’ Later, we want them to be saying, ‘Wow, that Volvo rocks.’ We expect enthusiasts to see Volvo in a whole new light.”