Pontiac's newest offering to the convertible market has been gaining more traction (pun intended) in the world of motor sport. Nowhere is that pervasiveness being felt more than in the Showroom Stock B (SSB) class of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Before 2006, the top slots were dominated by the likes of Mazda and Toyota, with the Miata (MX-5) being one of the most popular choices for weekend racers. That paradigm has begun to shift and in turn, the number of Solsti competing in the SSB Class has quadrupled, from one to four, within the last few months.
At the head of this onslaught is Andrew Aquilante, an 18-year old rookie who claimed his first victory at Lime Rock on July 30th and then proceeded to sweep the Northeast Division championship this past weekend at the Pocono International Raceway. Aquilante's Solstice is running the factory installed Z0K Club Sport package that includes upgraded brakes, an LSD and the FE3 suspension kit.
Although not up to Spec Miata numbers yet, it seems the Solstice is proving to be a serious contender for the disposable income of many aspiring racers.
Full press release after the jump.
Pontiac Solstice Wins First SCCA Divisional Championship with Showroom Stock B Sweep at Pocono
Second Solstice Sets New Track Record for an SSB Lap and Finishes Second in Both Races
WARREN, Mich. – It was a banner weekend for the Pontiac Solstice at Pocono International Raceway as Andrew Aquilante won both races of the Tri-Region August Double National, clinching the first-ever Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Northeast Division championships for the Solstice and himself in the Showroom Stock B (SSB) class. A second Solstice driven by Don Knowles set a new track record for an SSB lap with a time of 1:54:555 on Saturday, and finished second in each race.
Debuting in SSB for 2006 and racing on Aug. 5-6 in Long Pond, Penn. , the Solstice again prevailed over its key competitors from Mazda and Toyota , and each race featured close nose-to-tail racing on both afternoons. Both races also included a third Solstice driven by GM quality engineer Alan Yankielun, which marks the first time three Solstices have competed in the same race event.
"The Solstice has become very formidable in only its first season of SSB," said GM Performance Division executive John Heinricy. "With a Divisional Championship under its belt as well as two track records for the fastest SSB lap, Solstice heads to the National Championship Runoffs in Topeka this October looking to maintain its edge."
In seven national SSB races this season driving the Solstice, Aquilante set the fastest lap four times and finished no lower than fourth, including the two wins at Pocono and two wins at Lime Rock.
Combined with Knowles' record lap time (1:54:555) on Saturday at Pocono, the Solstice now holds two track records for the fastest SSB lap, which includes a time of 1:18:811 set by Aquilante at Nelson Ledges in Garrettsville, Ohio on May 28.
The Pontiac Solstice will next race at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park in Topeka , Kansas on October 9-15. Aquilante, Knowles and Stan Czacki of the Rocky Mountain Division are all expected to race their Solstices in Topeka , and will join a formidable contingent of GM vehicles competing for National Championships.
The Solstices are all equipped with the Z0K Club Sport regular production order option package, which is designed for the weekend racer and currently available to order through any Pontiac dealership.
Developed by GM Performance Division, the Club Sport package features the standard five-speed manual transmission along with antilock brakes (ABS), a limited-slip differential, an improved power steering cooler and FE3 suspension. The FE3 suspension will be standard on the upcoming 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP.
No other options are available when ordering the Club Sport Solstice, but some components and safety equipment are required by SCCA to make it track ready, including a hardtop, racing tires, higher friction brake pads, rollcage, seatbelts, etc.
Aquilante is the 2004 Northeast Division Rookie of the Year and 2005 Philadelphia Region Driver of the Year. He is also the two-time defending Northeast Division Touring 1 (T1) champion for 2004 and 2005 driving a Corvette C5 Z06.
GM Performance Division develops compelling, low volume, high-performance production and specialty vehicles, including the 205 hp Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged, 395 hp Chevy Trailblazer SS and 400hp Chevy SSR; the 400 hp CTS-V, 469 hp STS-V and 443 hp XLR-V from the Cadillac V-Series; and the 205 hp Saturn ION Red Line.
General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader for 75 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 327,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit , GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries . In 2005, 9.17 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall. GM operates one of the world's leading finance companies, GMAC Financial Services, which offers automotive, residential and commercial financing and insurance. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.