DG-Spec Pushes Through Toronto Troubles for Another Podium
Crashes and Mechanicals Can't Derail Scion Freight Train
TORRANCE, Calif. - This past weekend the World Challenge series went farther north, running through city streets at the Toronto Grand Prix. Despite one car's being crashed into and another car that just would not hold power, the team managed a satisfying third place. It was a true come-from-behind finish, as Robert Stout, driving the tried-and-true 18 car, took the last step on the podium.
The event started out great, as Stout gave hot lap rides to members of the media. The good fortune continued during the first official practice session, as Stout was third quickest, turning a lap just a few tenths off the leader, who had home track advantage. The second practice session saw Stout rise to the top, claiming fastest lap, nipping the hometown driver by one tenth of a second.
It would be a different story for Dan Gardner, who reported stumbling and flat spots in the powerband of the 36 car during the very first practice. After the first lap, the situation became worse, and Gardner reported that the car felt like it had no boost. He limped the car in, as the crew popped the hood. There, they would find an intake hose that had popped off the throttle body. Despite their best efforts, the crew would be unable to reattach the buried hose before the session ended. Total laps on track numbered just two, and there was precious little track time before the race.
In the second practice, Gardner intermittently reported what felt like fuel starve or throttle issues. A boost line had not popped off, but the car fell flat during most laps, as Gardner shifted into fourth gear. After the session, the team couldn't find anything obviously wrong, but they were determined to pore over data logs to see if anything could be learned.
"I know it's not possible, but sometimes you feel like you're just cursed," said team owner, Dan Gardner. "It's hard to go to a track you've never seen with two short practice sessions, and then just be fully up to speed for qualifying and the race. It's almost impossible to get up to speed when you're losing track time due to car issues."
Qualifying would be even shorter, as the session was cut in half so that the GT and TC cars could have their own clean track time. Four laps would be all the team would get. Stout qualified well, taking the third spot. Gardner would report progressively worse power issues over each successive lap, as they intermittently popped up at different points on the track. It was truly disappointing, as the team had stayed late into the previous evening throwing everything they could at the car. This was to be one of those intermittent, tough-to-diagnose issues.
After Qualifying, the team went through even more data, consulting with lots of engineers along the way. They had another idea, and they planned to try to eliminate the possibility of a variety of types of malfunctions. There was no time to do a purely controlled test. The team, unfortunately, had to throw a few different things at the car, and cross their fingers that one of the solutions would be the remedy.
With Stout in the third spot, and Gardner in sixth, the team still had a shot. When the lights went out, Stout and Gardner tore away. The 18 car passed the second place RX-8 and glued to the bumper of the RealTime Civic. Meanwhile, Gardner took both the turbo Jetta and the TSX, as he slid into fourth, passing a higher class GTS car as well, as the cars went three wide into Turn 1.
As Gardner got around Turn 2, he was beating on the back bumper of the third place Mazda, and was quickly moving into P3. He pulled out of the draft, and grabbed fourth gear at about 90 mph. Nothing...the car fell on its face.
All the Touring Cars then swarmed the helpless 36 car, as Gardner could do nothing except report to the crew via the radio what had happened. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be intermittent, as it got worse and worse, until the car felt like it had no power at all, and wouldn't rev much above 5,000 rpm.
Gardner continued to feed the crew information coming from the dash, as well as what the car generally felt like. About three laps in, Gardner simply came to terms with his fate. This was to be a prolonged test session. Stay out of trouble, finish the race, earn the points, and hope for some attrition.
And attrition there would be. Carnage was present in all of the classes in Toronto, and Touring Car was no exception, as Gardner would end up moving up a couple slots due to wrecks by an Acura and a VW. It was proof once again of just how unforgiving street courses can be. Gardner would stay out of trouble and finish the race clean, but not before repeated lappings by the GT cars that would close on the Scion at 80 mph speed differentials.
Not long into the race Stout was fighting at the front in the 18 car when things would take a turn for the worse. Going into Turn 3, an Acura would divebomb up the inside, locking up his brakes and smashing hard into the ride side of the Scion. The Acura actually leapt onto its two right wheels and drove on the roof of the Scion, lifting the tC off the ground as the Acura nearly rolled. As the images appeared on the big screens, fans gasped.
As the carnage came to a stop, the team thought their race in the 18 car was over. They should have known better. The Scion again proved its toughness. Stout got the car moving and reported that he felt nothing but a small vibration.
The crew urged him onward, and Stout kept going. The car was certainly not perfect, but it had taken a huge wallop and was still quite drivable, a true testament to Scion durability. Stout slowly climbed back through the field, working his way back up to an impressive third place finish.
"I had a great car for the race, but sometimes someone makes a bad decision or has a problem with their car that can take you out," said Stout. "After the impact, I didn't think there was any way I was going to be able to continue, but this Scion is amazing. Once I got going again, I started to believe I could actually catch the front. It was a great climb back through the pack, and I'm proud of the finish no matter what."
For the crew of Brad Allen, Sean Morris, David Fredrickson, and John McNulty, this was a tough weekend in every way. Racing just works that way sometimes, but the crew worked tirelessly, again proving that they would be the last ones to leave the track if it meant having better cars for the next day.
Stout still has a commanding lead for the Driver's Championship. His 814 total points puts him 154 points ahead of second place. Gardner further accrued points for the 36 car in the team championship, just a stone's throw away from second place. The team's performance in Toronto nets Scion a total of 54 points, extending the brand's lead for the Manufacturers' title, ahead of second place VW, while Honda moves ahead of Mazda for third place.
Standings and results can be viewed at http://www.world-challenge.com/index.php. The race will be broadcast on the Versus Network on Saturday, July 31 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Twenty-four hours later the program can be viewed online at www.world-challengetv.com. A great Watkins Glen highlight reel can be viewed at http://www.world-challengetv.com/#/races/229.
The team now prepares for a double-header at Mid-Ohio, which takes August 6-8. Both of the weekend's races can be views through live timing and scoring at www.world-challenge.com.
The DG-Spec team uses and is supported by:
- Scion-supplied OE parts
- TRD-supplied supercharger and intercooler, front big brake kit
- Jackson-Dawson Communications
- Pilot Automotive HID driving lamps
- Nitto NT-01 tires for testing
- Enkei PF01 17x8 wheels
- OS Giken Super Lock Limited Slip Differential (LSD)
- Dezod-supplied AEM standalone engine management, plug-and-play harness, fuel rail, injectors, end links, and stainless clutch line
- Church Automotive Testing dyno tuning
- Moton Suspension remote reservoir coilover shocks
- Vogtland springs
- DG-Spec Progress Technology rear swaybar and camber kits
- Motul brake fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid, and super coolant
- Racepak IQ3 logger dash and VNET sensors
- AEM sensors, EMS, and dry flow air filter
- Kaminari carbon-fiber roof and composite headlights
- Reflections body work
- America's Tire Co. tire mounting and balancing
- Racetech Viper head-restraint race seat and 6-point harnesses
- Centerforce clutch and low-inertia steel flywheel
- AIT carbon-fiber hood and hatch
- DG-Spec Wild Pony Motorsports-supplied camber/caster plates
- Goodridge fittings and lines
- Carbotech XP10 and XP8 brake pads
- G-Force racing suit, gloves, helmet, window nets, and other safety and crew gear
- DC Sports header
- Energy Suspension bushings and motor mounts
- HoseTechniques silicone hoses
- Tri-Mountain Racewear team gear
- NST supercharger pulley, Braille batteries, and shifter bushings
- SquareSkull designs
- Sampson Racing Communications (SRC) radio systems
The World Challenge is North America's top production car-based racing championship. Divided into three separate classes (World Challenge Touring Car, World Challenge GTS, and World Challenge GT), races follow a sprint format and are 50 minutes start to finish. Each race features thrilling standing starts, adrenaline filled door-to-door action, and top-notch drivers. Drivers pilot cars from the world's most popular manufacturers, featuring race-prepped versions of the cars we drive on the streets! The World Challenge is sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing and races at North America's premier road and temporary street courses.
DG Spec is a line of parts designed and endorsed by National Champion Scion road racer Dan Gardner. Gardner draws up the specifications for the parts himself. The parts are then tested and proven on the track. The goal of DG Spec is to provide enthusiasts with parts that have been developed on the track and that have significant performance advantages at an honest price. Parts are offered either in hardcore track trim, identical to what Gardner and his team race with, or in Gardner-specified standards more appropriate for enthusiast use on the street. www.DanGardnerSpec.com.