Somewhere over the winter season, it seems that Tony Ave, of Maiden, NC, found three extra seconds in his #4 Lamers Racing/Beebe Racing/Optech/PME Corvette – three seconds that nobody else has managed to find. Ave took the 15th pole position of his career in qualifying for last Sunday’s SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series race at Mosport International Raceway.
The achievement also moved him into eighth place on the all-time SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series fast qualifiers list. While Ave’s recent success may make it look easy, the details often reveal some drama that isn’t evident otherwise. Ave spent a long time in the Trans Am series without a win, but since hitting his first last June at Miller Motorsports Park, they have been a regular occurrence.
“It was good,” Ave said of the qualifying session. “I only put enough gas in for three laps, but we also made a mistake. We left a rev chip in for a different gearbox, so during those three laps, a couple things happened. One, I was late to the grid, so I had to pass everybody on the first lap to get a clear track and when the tires should have been at their best, I didn’t have them hot enough. I was sliding all over and it was in the rev chip in a few spots, so I had to come in. We let the tires down a bit, took the rev chip out and I went back out. I had a faster car, but I ran out of gas.”
As a result, Ave missed out, by just two tenths of a second, beating the Trans Am track record at Mosport, set three years ago by Kenny Wilden with a 1:15.719 (116.553 mph) lap.
Local racer, Blaise Csida, started beside Ave on the grid, with Simon Gregg’s Corvette immediately behind and Daniel Ramoutarsingh’s Jaguar XKR in P4. Wet conditions that had been threatening through the afternoon hit with full force at the race start, resulting in a multi-car incident that red flagged the first lap for a total of eight minutes. On the restart, Ave led straight to the finish with a lead just short of 15 seconds over the rest of the field.
“We had, I think, a much better car than everybody today, so we just had to kind of stay out of trouble,” Ave said. “The start was interesting. It was pretty wet on slicks and unfortunately some guys tore some stuff up, but during the red flag for that, it had dried up and the track was good after that.”
At the finish, Csida took another step up the podium with a second-place run aboard his #07 Gateway Racing Inc. Chevrolet Corvette after starting from the outside of the front row. After a tough start to her 2011 Trans-Am season, Amy Ruman returned to familiar territory at Mosport with a third-place run in the #23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette.
Next up for the 2011 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series is another trip north of the border to the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada on the weekend of August 5-7.