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ALMS GT3 - Wright Motorsports Drivers In The Heat Of The Action At Mosport

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BATAVIA, July 27, 2011: Wright Motorsports’ drivers held their own in the IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama doubleheader last weekend at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.

Kasey Kuhlman of Cincinnati posted two top-10 finishes in the 45-minute races when he placed seventh on Saturday and ninth on Sunday with his No. 15 2011 Porsche 997, which carries the colors of Kuhlsport and the Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati.

John Ellis of Charlottesville, Va., who like Kuhlman competes in the Platinum class, was the model of consistency with 16th-place finishes both days. His 2011 Porsche 997 is sponsored by Sagewater.

Mitch Landry of Lake Charles, La. earned the pole in the Gold Cup division for Saturday’s race and went on finish fourth in that event. He almost got on the podium on Sunday but ran into problems on the last lap and ended up seventh in class in the nightcap with his No. 54 2009 Porsche 997, which is sponsored by VersaCrane and Deep South Crane & Rigging.

All three cars were prepared at Wright Motorsports’ headquarters in Batavia, Ohio.

Kuhlman was especially fast. He qualified ninth for Saturday’s race, just 0.661 of a second off the pole. He fell back to tenth on lap six when Mark Bullitt got around him, but he vaulted to eighth position on lap 18 of what turned out to be a 25-lap race when two drivers ahead of him ran into problems. He passed Randy Oswald for seventh following a restart on lap 22, but he dropped to ninth again two laps later when both Oswald and Carlos Gomez wiggled by.

He must have been destined for seventh on Saturday, however, because both he and Gomez passed Oswald on the last lap and a driver ahead of them, Marco Cirone, went off the track in Turn 5 and lost some positions. Kuhlman was only 0.138 of a second behind the sixth-place car of Gomez at the checkered.

The starting line-up for Sunday’s race was established by each driver’s fastest race lap on Saturday, which put Kuhlman in the 13th starting spot on Sunday. His fastest lap of Saturday’s race was a 1:25.438, just 0.841 of a second off the winner’s fastest race lap in the very tight field.

Kuhlman got right to work when the green flag dropped. He was already in the top 10 by lap five and battling one of his main competitors from Saturday, Oswald.

He passed Oswald on lap 22 and then set off a string of consistently faster laps, setting his personal best of the day on lap 27 with a 1:23.838 for the 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course. That ended up running just 0.223 of a second off the winner’s fastest race lap.

Around lap 23 Kuhlman was two-tenths of a second faster than the driver ahead of him in eighth place, Melanie Snow, but she had almost a 5-second advantage over him in track position. Kuhlman had cut that gap to 2.848 seconds when time ran out and he finished ninth, 3.306 seconds ahead of Gomez, when the checkered waved with 31 laps complete.

“Mosport is an awesome track!” Kuhlman said afterwards. “It challenges you with high speeds, technical corners and elevation changes that create blind spots where you have to commit to your turn-in point without any view of the apex. Having never been here before I had my hands full getting up to race pace, but John Wright and my crew chief, Paul Nicely, gave me a great set-up on the car.

“The track is very intimidating until you figure it out, and then it is just a blast to drive. I got faster every session and was into the 1:23s and as fast as the leaders by Sunday. In this series qualifying position means everything because the cars are all equal. I started ninth in Race 1 with a qualifying lap of 1:24.0. The top-10 cars were all inside of 0.8 of a second of the pole. I don't think it's been that tight all year.

“It was tough to pass, but I had some really great racing with Randy Oswald and Rob Walton,” Kuhlman added. “Carlos Gomez gave me a great run in Race 1 as well. I really had fun in the car this weekend and learned a ton. Our program is starting to come together nicely.”

Ellis qualified 18th for Saturday’s race. He ran between two Gold Cup cars driven by Angel Benitez and Andres Cisneros until Benitez hit the wall in Turn 1 right in front of him on lap eight. With Benitez out Ellis then tried to catch Ludovico Manfredi. After drawing up right behind Manfredi and setting his fastest lap of the race on lap 20, he got the job done on lap 22. He ended up 16th in class at the end that day.

Ellis started 18th on Sunday too. His major goal was to gain experience and finish, which he did. He set his fastest lap of the race on lap 25 of what turned out to be a 31-lap event on Sunday when he was running between Landry and Manfredi. The model of consistency, he ended up 16th in class on Sunday just like he did on Saturday.

On Friday Landry won the pole in the Gold Cup class for Saturday’s race with a time of 1:25.603 (103.412 miles per hour). It was a dramatic qualifying session, as he posted his fastest lap on the eighth of nine laps he made in the session.

Unfortunately his time at the front was short in Saturday’s race, as Eduardo Cisneros got around him in turn one on the first lap. Landry remained in second place until Madison Snow passed him on lap six. Peter Collins got by him on a restart on lap 16. He set his fastest lap of the race on lap 19 with a 1:26.963 and went on to take the checkered in fourth place.

He started third in class in Sunday’s race, behind Cisneros and Snow. Peter Collins was knocking at the door almost immediately, however, and Collins got around Landry on lap 13. Landry remained close, however, and was just 0.5 of a second behind Collins when he set his fastest lap of the race on lap 25 with a time of 1:26.196.

On lap 29 Landry’s patience was rewarded when he passed Collins to regain third place. He was still in third place on the white-flag lap, but unfortunately on the very last lap he ran into trouble and he ended up seventh in class at the checkered.

“The Wright Motorsports guys made the car great for qualifying,” Landry said. “It was a blast to win pole.

“The battle between Collins and I was very dramatic,” he added. “We traded position several times.”