Team GTI

Back to the Track with Project GTI Tentative Calendar and Event Report 2005
This schedule will be updated as changes occur

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
12-13 February
Tarheel Sports Car Club
High Performance Driving School

We had a great start to the season running two long days with the Tarheel Sports Car Club, at one of their typically well run schools. 2004 VIR 13-Hour crew member and Project GTI rollcage builder Chris Schimmel took ITB wins with his MkII Golf in the two time trials but not by as much as large of a margin as he enjoyed last season. New team engineer Clark Doggett spent two full days reviewing data from our new DL-1 system, providing feedback that found time every session on the track, and this will hopefully translate into successes in the future.

Highlight - A new best lap at VIR (2:31.44), thanks to Clark and his data.

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
19-20 February
National Auto Sports Association (NASA)
Regional Sprint and Enduro Races

So what does the inside of an IT Golf look like when one is driving it to an event that includes a 3.5 hour enduro?

Like this.

Six wheels, tools, jack, stands, 10' square awning, spare parts, lunch, driver's gear, computer, 3 fuel jugs, a funnel, pit stop equipment, and even boards to keep the jack from sinking in the VIR sand paddock - all stuffed in the race car and ready for the hour-long drive to the track.

This event included a 25-minute sprint race and a 3.5-hour enduro. We entered both, winning the Pro Sedan 3 class (PS3) in the sprint, albeit over scant competition, and finishing 2nd in our class (E3) in the longer race. At the end, we were one lap behind the class-winning BMW and 23rd of 51 starters overall.

Highlights - another half second off of the personal best lap of VIR (2:30.98 in practice), and a trouble-free solo run in the enduro.

Action photos courtesy BH.Race.Photo

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
19-20 March
Sports Car Club of America

PhilsTireService.com Project GTI had some luck in a weekend marred by races hit with lengthy periods of full-course yellow flag conditions, due to others' on-track incidents.

The pace car took control of the field approaching the midway pont of Sunday morning's 90-minute ECR enduro, just before car owner Kirk Knestis turned the keys over to guest shoe Matt Graham. The incident that brought out the caution involved one of Project GTI's ITB competitors, with whom Kirk was racing, and in fact happened right in his mirrors. Graham did a great job as closer, as the team went on to a second place finish, in a thin class field.

The afternoon SARRC sprint was more of the same, as the race was effectively shortened to half distance when the safety car was sent out so emergency crews could attend to a car that found its way into a tire wall and upside down, between the South Bend and Oak Tree corners. For whatever reason, Kirk couldn't find the last 3 seconds from previous visits and was hanging out in a lackluster 6th of eight ITB entries when the race was effectively stopped.

Spencer Conover photos

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
6-8 May
Sports Car Club of America
Double SARRC/MARRS Regional Races

The SARRC/MARRS double regional attracted its typically large fields and provided great racing throughout the pack, in both Saturday's and Sunday's races. The event was historic to some degree as it was the first run on the VIR "Grande Course" - the longest road racing circuit in the United States, at 4.2 miles around.

Project GTI debuted a number of improvements - a new gearbox being the most promising - but the addition of rear camber had Kirk fighting with massive understeer during both races. That challenge left the team not completely disappointed with an 11th-place finish in ITB (of 15 cars) on Saturday, and 9th (of 16) on Sunday - or 4th and 3rd of eight SARRC entries, respectively.

Spencer Conover photo

Blue Ridge Sports Car Hillclimb
Laurel Springs, NC
14-15 May
Sports Car Club of America
SEDiv Solo I

The 2005 Blue Ridge Hillclimb was as much fun as last year's event, even with rain dampening the festivities Saturday morning and all of Sunday. Fast times were all posted in the afternoon of the first day, leaving Kirk first of the three ITB entrants, with a new class record time.

Many teams left when the weather dawned rainy for Day 2, leaving lots of runs available for those willing to tough it out. Project GTI did just that, using the miles as training for the all-tarmac Rally Tennessee scheduled for Labor Day weekend.

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Cameron Conover photo

Summit Point Motorsports Park
Summit Point, WV
03-04 June
Sports Car Club of America
12 Hours at the Point

The PhilsTireService.com team had a successful 12 Hours at the Point, bringing home a class win and a nearly unscathed car, after a wreck-strewn enduro.

Greg Amy, Phil Phillips, Jeff Lawton, and Kirk Knestis covered 394 laps (or 788 miles) on their way to 27th overall, out of 53 starters.

Complete coverage is available here. Click thumbnail images to enlarge.

Mike Collins photo

John Roy photo

John Roy photo

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
29-30 July
National Auto Sports Association (NASA)
Regional Sprint Races

This event was a double-header sprint race, where we took class honors both days in the Pro Sedan 3 (PS3) class. Saturday's dry afternoon sprint included a couple of entertaining out-of-class races with PS2 cars, while Sunday dawned wet but dried out leading up to the second race. After a busy first two laps of that feature, the field strung out in front of and behind the Project GTI entry, leaving Kirk a lonely class winner without a race.

One interesting feature is NASA's use of standing starts. This adds an interesting dimension to the beginning of a race, even if the field seems generally to be more spread out by the time it gets to the first turn.

Highlight - another good wet practice performance that found the Phils Tire Service GTI second overall on the time sheet. Someday it will rain during a race on the mid-Atlantic coast, so it will matter...

Michael Collins Photos - iammike.org

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
13-14 August
Car Guys
High Performance Track Day

The PhilsTireService.com team ran a track day weekend with Gar Guys, rather than entering the SCCA Double Regional originally scheduled for this weekend. This exercise was primarily intended to test Project GTI with the setup and equipment required for the Rally Tennessee in September, and a track day with lots of low-pressure track time was perfect for this purpose.

The test was a success, with revised spring rates, damper settings, and tire pressures ironed out for the upcoming event. The team decided to use a conservative set-up, since the goal for Rally Tennessee is to finish.

Linden, TN
Rally Tennessee
03-05 September
National Auto Sports Association (NASA) Rallysport
107-mile Tarmac Rally

The PhilsTireService.com debut at Rally Tennessee, in collaboration with Lina Racing and co-driver Amy Feistel, didn't work out quite as planned, when driver Kirk Knestis turned a small error into a big mess - rolling the Project GTI entry on the first stage of the rally's second day.

The Knestis/Feistel pair stood 3rd in class (of six entries in the Modified 2wd class), and 7th of 14 overall, at the end of the first day's racing. Only 5 miles into the first stage of the day however, Kirk was caught out by loose gravel toward the end of a fast left hand corner. Post-incident examination by people who know rallying suggest that the Golf slid wide and sideways, and snagged the right rear wheel in the ditch or soft dirt - pitching it first onto the co-drivers rear roof line, then onto the drivers front corner.

Both driver and co-driver walked away from the incident without significant injury but the Golf's body shell is substantially damaged. The PhilsTireService.com team is already planning a repair strategy using Golf v.3.2.

The Perry County roads were wonderful and the Lina Racing/PhilsTireService.com entry was looking great until Sunday's incident.

Jackson County, AL
1-2 October
Crow Mountain Hillclimb

Cancelled - Unfortunately, the Rally Tennessee incident has ended the 2005 season for the PhilsTireService.com Project GTI. All involved are most disappointed about not being able to defend their ITB crown at the 2005 VIR 13-hour enduro but is already planning a comeback with an improved Golf.

Roebling Road Raceway
Bloomingdale, GA
8-9 October

SARRC Invitational Challenge

Virginia International Raceway
Alton, VA
5-6 November
North Carolina Region SCCA
13-Hour Endurance Race
Last updated 30 September, 2005

Project GTI is headquartered in Greensboro, NC
All photos by Kirk Knestis, unless otherwise indicated


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