Team GTI

2008 Charge of the Headlight Brigade
13-Hour Enduro at Virginia International Raceway

The drivers and crew of Conover Motor Sports-PhilsTireService.com Team GTI came to this year's VIR 13-hour enduro ready to defend their 2007 class victory and they came within 44.5 seconds of doing just that.

Conover principal and enduro team manager Cameron Conover (Burlington, NC) brought the familiar blue Golf belonging to Kirk Knestis (Charleston, WV) to VIR fully prepared and ready, complete with lots of new pieces, as is typical practice before a major race of this duration. Unfortunately, one of those new pieces would let them down...

The weather was beautiful, with race day temperatures rising to the 60's. Knestis started the event, planning on running a full 3 hour stint, but in the still-cool morning weather, he found that his VW's engine was not warming to proper operating temperature. The resulting too-rich fuel mixture was hobbling the car on the two long straights, so the decision was made to pit on lap 8 to tape over the grill.

Ken Neher Photo

This 30-second stop cured the problem, putting the CMS-prepared Golf back on pace. By lap 44, the Sattele's Mustang (Senior and Junior) was out with an engine failure, and Knestis had moved past the Golf of Troxell, Troxell, and Rothstein to take the ITB lead over the other two cars in the class.

On lap 72, Knestis handed off to seven-time Team GTI enduro co-driver Phil Phillips (Haverstraw, NY), in a stop made a minute or more too long by a rare fueling miscue by the CMS crew, who pulled the quick-fill probe before the tank was full. This made it necessary for Phillips - who was belted in by the time the error was discovered - to get out of the car, wait for fueling to be completed, and get back in before continuing.

Phillips ran an otherwise flawless stint - typical of his performances for the team over the last four seasons - and even caught a lucky full course yellow to put Greg Amy (Middletown, CT) in the seat.

Ken Neher Photo

Amy ticked off the laps, putting the team as high as 29th overall (of the original 67 starters), with several laps in hand over the Troxell's 2nd-in-class Golf. He turned the car back over to car owner Knestis on lap 179, and the team was quietly confident of their position.

Unfortunately, an ominous vibration became apparent just a few laps later. A conference by radio with Conover left the team unsure of the likely cause, even after a stop to check lug nuts and change front tires did nothing to solve the problem. On lap 195 the mystery was revealed when one of those brand new parts - an axle constant velocity joint - failed completely, stranding the car on-track as Knestis waited to be towed back to the pits.

Retrieval and the subsequent axle replacement by the Conover crew cost just over 30 minutes, by which time their 7-lap advantage was turned into second place in ITB behind the Troxells.

Following another epic quick fix in the CMS paddock, Knestis returned to the track and worked his way to within one lap of the competition.

Ken Neher Photo

Unfortunately, the team's luck with full course cautions ran out on lap 245 when Knestis was called in to put Amy back in the car for the final run to the end. The CMS-PhilsTireService team made their driver change under green flag conditions, while the Troxells caught the yellow by pitting just one lap later.

Amy put in a storming night-time drive (all but exactly matching Knestis' best lap time in daylight hours), but after 13 hours, he crossed the finish line less than 45 seconds behind the Troxells' York Racing VW.


Ryan Jenkins Images

An "animated" Kirk Knestis describes his headlight-crunching run-in with another car on track, late in the VIR 13-hour enduro.

Wes Eargle Photo

Conover Motor Sports-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

Conover Motor Sports Team GTI (alphabetical)
Cameron Conover - Team manager
Greg Amy - Driver
Jacob "Gas Man" Underwood - Refueler
Jeff Underwood - Tire changer
Kim Phillips - Dog maintenance specialist, timing & scoring
Kirk Knestis - Team co-owner, driver
Laurene Johnson - Team co-owner
Ken Neher - Photographer
Phil Phillips - Driver, tire engineer

Ryan "RJ" Jenkins - Driver changer, photographer
Spencer Conover - Refueling fire safety
Tristan Herbert - Tire changer
Wes Eargle - Chef, artiste d'image de digitals

Wes Eargle Photo - "We were HOW close?"
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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