Team GTI

2007 Charge of the Headlight Brigade
13-Hour Enduro at Virginia International Raceway

Members of Conover Motor Sports-PhilsTireService.com Team GTI showed up for the VIR 13-hour enduro feeling good about their chances, coming off of a class win at the Longest Day 24 hours. During pre-race planning, team manager Cameron Conover (Burlington, NC) actually commented to car owner Kirk Knestis (Charleston, WV) that he could decrease the number of crew members required, since "it's only a 13-hour."

Race length was the least of Knestis' concerns however, as he grew increasingly sick with the flu leading up to the event. He ran a practice session the Golf during the test day but was worried enough about his condition, that he chose not to go on-track in qualifying - his participation being in doubt right up to the green flag.

Greg Amy (Middletown, CT), returning for his fifth enduro with the team, started the race and quickly found a comfortable pace. Amy and the team were concerned however about the German Speed Merchants VW Jetta, which led from the start and was edging away in the early laps. Unfortunately for the GSM team, their run would be drastically impaired by a wall-banging shunt on lap 51.

Ryan Jenkins Photo

Conover had made the decision to push each stint as long as reasonably possible, and Amy was kept out until lap 68 (about 2.5 hours in) to judge race fuel mileage. A stop of just over 3 minutes set the Golf up for another go, with a full load of gas, new front tires, and the ever-reliable Phil Phillips (Haverstraw, NY; of PhilsTireService.com) in the driver's seat.

Unfortunately, the team was tagged with a fuel spill violation - later found by race stewards to have been incorrectly applied - and Phillips had to return for a stop-and-go penalty. Team GTI maintained its lead however, over the Sattele Mustang and Troxell VW, which were locked in a close battle fifteen or so places further back in the field.

Phillips had an otherwise excellent, trouble-free run and handed the car off to Matt Brown (Alexandria, VA). As Brown circulated solidly in the ITB lead, car owner Knestis made the decision to forgo his turn, concerned that he lacked both the alertness and stamina necessary to play a useful role this weekend. Discussions in the Conover pits resulted in a plan that would see Brown do an extended run, followed by Phillips in a stint just long enough to put Amy back in the car for a longer run as "closer" for the team.

Ryan Jenkins Photo

Unfortunately, Phillips' second session was marred by the failure of 5th gear, leaving the team hobbled slightly with a four-speed transmission. The drivers adopted a strategy of "breathing" the engine at the end of the fastest sections of VIR, to keep the powerplant well within its operating rev range, and lap times did not actually drop substantially over the balance of the race.

At the end, Knestis had to be roused from sleep in his street car to see Amy take the checkered flag and the class win, six laps ahead of the Troxells (in 2nd place) and seven ahead of the Satteles (3rd). Amy recorded the team's fastest lap time in his first turn (2:26:339) and the Conover team's four planned stops averaged only 3:16 - testimony to the excellence of the crew and the efficiency of the team's quick-fill 25-gallon fuel system.

Pablo the Golf emerged from the 13 hours essentially unscathed, despite multiple efforts by a disgruntled Miata driver to usher Amy off-course in the closing laps. Following lengthy post-race discussions with stewards, both parties' tempers cooled and they decided to leave their conflict recorded only in the lap chart and enjoy a cold beverage.

Ryan Jenkins Photo

Conover Engines-PhilsTireService.com Team GTI

Promotional Partners
Conover Motor Sports - Preparation & support
PhilsTireService.com - Hoosier race tires

Competition Cages - Rollcage construction

KONI Racing - Quality racing suspension struts
Triple 8 - Brainsaver crew helmets
100-speed.com - Driver coaching

Conover Motor Sports Team GTI (alphabetical)
Bill Miller - Car Chief
Cameron Conover - Team manager
Collins Conover - Communications

Greg Amy - Driver
Jacob "Gas Man" Underwood - Refueler
Jeff Underwood - All-around help and good guy
Kim Phillips - Driver maintenance specialist
Kirk Knestis - Team co-owner, useless lump
Laurene Johnson - Team co-owner
Matt Brown - Driver
Phil Phillips - Driver, tire engineer

Rhys Rotolo - Tire changer, technician
Ryan "RJ" Jenkins - Lead technician, photographer
Spencer Conover - Refueling fire safety
Wes Eargle - Chef

Ryan Jenkins Photo
All text and photos protected by copyright
Use by permission only
Last updated November 28, 2008
Project GTI is headquartered at Conover Motor Sports, Burlington, NC


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