Photo by John Thawley SEBRING, Fla. March 16, 2007 Tommy Archer, driving the Mopar Autohaus Viper, finished eighth today in round one of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Series race at Sebring International Raceway.
An afternoon rain storm caused the SCCA officials to alter their usual standing start procedure as well as shortening the historical 50-minute race to 45-minutes.
Tommy Archer took the rolling start from his single file ninth place qualifying position. The Duluth, Minnesota resident made quick work of his fellow competitors at the start, moving up to sixth place by turn seven. As the race unfolded the horsepower of the GT competitors began to make their way back in front of the No. 5 Mopar Viper. Archer had the measure of his pursuers in the twisty-sections of the 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit, but at the exit of the turn and down the straights the Vipers restrictions halted his progress.
I had a good start and was able to make up several places early, Archer said. I would get a couple of positions and then I would lose the drag race off of the exit of the corners and theyd get back by me. What was an eight car length lead was gone by the next turn. I was in several close battles to try and maintain my top ten position, but with our weight and engine restriction it was a lot of work.
In the companion Autohaus Pearson Motorsports No. 6 Viper Competition Coupe, Brett Pearson was able to improve on his 23rd qualifying effort and move up 10 places to finish 13th.
It was a hairy start in the drying conditions, Pearson explained. I was able to make up time and places on the restart. The track was drying and I was getting into the rhythm of the race pace. I was able to keep the car under me and navigate the dry patches for a decent finish.
Jeffrey Robbins turned in an 18th place finish in his first ever SPEED GT start behind the wheel of the No. 7 RSIG Security Viper.
I had a good day, Robbins said. It was a learning experience for me this weekend. I got a taste of the race pace and the car was really good. The track was pretty much dry by mid-race and my car seemed to get better with every lap. The restart was welcome to bunch the field back-up and by the end of the race I had made good progress up the field and brought it home with a satisfying finish.