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The SPEED GT Series - All Against Odds

LG/Whelen Vette Shines In ST. Pete

Walt Thurn Oct 1, 2009
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Longtime Corvette racer Lou Gigliotti made a bold move when he stopped racing his Corvette in the SPEED GT series at the end of 2007. The following year, Gigliotti's Wylie, Texas-based LG Motorsports purchased a Riley Technologies-built C6 with the intention of running it in the ALMS GT2 category. This was the first Corvette to compete in GT2, and it suffered teething problems in its first season. The Sebring 12-hour was the team's first race for the 2009 season, and early indications were that all of the bugs had finally been worked out. Piloted by Gigliotti, Luca Molo, and Eric Curran, the LG Vette qualified seventh in class and was making good progress until it was sidelined by a mechanical problem.

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(From left) Drivers Eric Curran and Lou Gigliotti discuss driving strategy with crew chief Louis Gigliotti before the race.

Undaunted, the team headed to the season's next race in St. Petersburg, Florida. The demanding 14-turn street circuit found 11 GT2 competitors lining up for the Saturday afternoon start. Curran again got the nod as co-driver, and even brought along his Whelen Engineering sponsorship to help defray some of the team's racing expenses. The car qualified eighth, with a best lap of 1:14.633. The GT2-pole-sitting Ferrari, meanwhile, turned a 1:12.892 on the tight, twisty street circuit.

The green flag fell at 1:20 p.m., whereupon Gigliotti quickly began moving up through the GT2 field. He entered the pits fifth in class after 46 minutes and handed the car over to Curran. The crew took the opportunity to add fuel as well as four new soft-compound Dunlop tires. Curran returned to the race in third after the Ford GT holding that position pitted. Four minutes later the race was put under caution when a Viper hit the wall. This closed up the field, and when the race resumed, Curran passed a GT2 Panoz to take over second in class. This was the highest any Corvette had ever run in the GT2 category.

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After starting in eighth, Gigliotti quickly scythed his way through the field to take over fifth place. Here, a Flying Lizard Porsche 911 tails him through Turn 5.

Curran waged a spirited battle with the No. 21 Panoz until his tires began going away and he had to relinquish his second-place position. Soon, a BMW M3 swept by both Curran and the Panoz and settled in behind the leading Porsche. At the checkered flag the finishing order was Porsche, BMW, Panoz, and Corvette. This Fourth Place showing was the highest finish for any GT2 Corvette to date, and it netted both drivers the ALMS Founder's Cup trophy (awarded to the highest-finishing non-factory-sponsored drivers in the race).

After the race we caught up to owner/driver Lou Gigliotti. "St. Pete is a brutal course," he said. "I think if we would have used the harder-compound Dunlop tires, we might have held on to Second Place."

Curran, meanwhile, was very pleased with the performance of the young team. "Like Lou said, the tires just went away too quickly. We ran as high as second and finished Fourth. We'll take it."



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