USRRC: Bently Wins 1998 GT3 Championship
9 September 1998BMW AND PTG NEARLY PERFECT IN MANUFACTURERS', TEAMS' CHAMPIONSHIPS
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Ross Bentley, of Vancouver, B.C., Can., has been crowned the GT3 Drivers' Champion by the United States Road Racing Championship. BMW and the Prototype Technology Group won the Manufacturers' and Teams' Championships respectively.
Driving four different Prototype Technology Group Yokohama/Fina BMW M3s, Bentley amassed 146 championship points with two wins (Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex and Minneapolis Street Circuit), one second, one third and one seventh. Danny Marshall, of Danville, Va., finished second, with 101 points.
"This is the kind of season you dream of," said Bentley. "I've been racing for 20 years, and have never been a part of a team like this. We had the best crew, car, tires, sponsors and drivers -- everything. Every car I've ever driven, including Indy cars and Can-Am cars, have certain bad tendencies that you just have to live with -- until I drove the BMW M3. It really is the perfect all-around race car. I just hope that I don't have to wait another 20 years for another opportunity like this.
"The cars are so developed and good that there is very little setup involved, meaning we can just go out and drive as hard and as fast as we can," added Bentley. "The thing about having such tremendous co-drivers, is that there's a great amount of positive competition. Each driver wants to be the fastest, so we're all constantly pushing one another, making each other faster drivers."
"Ross is one of the most versatile and experienced drivers in North America, and we congratulate him on his Championship," said Alan Wilson, General Manager of the USRRC. "Whether the car has two doors, four doors, is in GT2 or GT3, the Prototype Technology Group's BMWs are always at the front and winning, and we congratulate them on all three 1998 USRRC Championships."
After a deal to drive in Can-Am for the 1998 season fell through, PTG Owner Tom Milner brought Bentley in at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Along with Les Delano, Andy Petery, Derek Hill and Mark Simo, Bentley had a strong run in the No. 7 BMW despite a 13-hour miss caused by an off-course excursion, resulting in a seventh-place GT3 finish out of 27 entries (16th overall). Teammates Bill Auberlen, Marc Duez, Boris Said and Peter Cunningham won the event in the No. 10 entry.
After being hired on to run the remainder of the season, Bentley joined Duez in the No. 1 BMW at the Homestead, May 17, and followed the No. 10 team car of Said and Mark Simo for the majority of the two-hour, 15-minute race until Bentley made his move on Simo to take the lead just before the finish line. Duez took the point lead with a perfect 70, followed by Said with 69. Bentley was fifth, with 59 points.
Duez missed the Mid-Ohio round, but Auberlen returned to take the pole and win with Said in the No. 10 car. Bentley teamed with Simo in the No. 1 car to finish second, moving the Canadian into second, with 86 points. Said took the points lead, with 99, but would have to skip the final two rounds due to a conflict with his NASCAR obligations.
Bentley and Simo drove the No. 10 car at the Sprint PCS Grand Prix of Minnesota, and had the luxury of not competing against any of their teammates, as the No. 6 car was entered in GT2. The No. 07 Franklin Covey's Porsche 911 RSR of Darren Law and Marshall, who was only two points behind Bentley, gave the BMW all it could handle -- leading much of the event -- until a scrap with the GT2 BMW spun them back to second by the conclusion of the one-hour, 45-minute street race. Bentley moved atop the Championship standings with 116 -- 15 better than Marshall in second place. The win clinched the Teams' Championship for PTG.
Watkins Glen looked to be going BMW's way at first as they looked for the five-race sweep. Auberlen and Simo were out front in the No. 10 car from the pole, and Bentley was comfortably in the top-four while Marshall's team suffered a plethora of mechanical problems. After Simo took over in the No. 10 car, Randy Pobst passed for the lead in his Porsche RSR and suddenly the BMW quit -- the first mechanical DNF for any of the BMWs all season. Pobst and teammate Terry Borcheller cruised on to victory ahead of the team car of Darryl Havens, Cort Wagner and Kelly Collins -- breaking BMW's domination. Bentley finished third with in the No. 6 car with Duez and Cunningham to win the Drivers' Championship and clinch the Manufacturers' Championship for BMW.
Marshall retained second despite failing to finish Watkins Glen. He tallied 101 points on one second (Minneapolis), two fourths and two eighths. Duez was third, with 100 points from two wins (Daytona and Homestead) and one third, followed by Said (99 points) and Steve Marshall (94 points).
BMW took the Manufacturers' Championship with 85 points earned in four wins (Daytona, Homestead, Mid-Ohio and Minneapolis) and one third. Porsche came in second, with 74 points from one win (Watkins Glen), two seconds and two thirds. Mitsubishi was third (11 points) followed by Nissan (six points).
The Prototype Technology Group dominated the GT3 season, accumulating four wins (Daytona, Homestead, Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen) and one second for 85 points. Alex Job Racing and G&W Motorsports tied with 52 points, with AJR taking the tie-breaker based on its one win (Watkins Glen), one second and one third. G&W had one second, two fourths, one sixth and one eighth on the season. AASCO Performance finished fourth (30 points), followed by Jack Lewis Enterprises (18 points).