dsc 2005 Awards 21 – North American Surprise of the
Grand Am surprised our voting panel with the inability
of even a high quality driver squad like Bobbi and Gollin to mount
a meaningful challenge to the dominant Rileys and Crawfords in 2005.
The speed of two very different cars, the factory
Zytek and the Carsport America Viper, provoked favourable comment,
the Viper in particular showing speed that bettered even the then
dominant Oreca Vipers in their heyday.
A very pleasant surprise was the announcement of
the Penske Porsche RS Spyder programme, and the quality of racing
in the ALMS, despite the lower car counts in 2005, was also a feature
noted with satisfaction.
The winner here though was an effort that didn’t
make the top step of the podium all season, but that was always
going to be a very big ‘ask’. With the season long competition
coming from a two car, full factory team, with a driver squad of
very high quality indeed, it would have been no real surprise had
this effort lagged far, far behind.
The reality though is that it didn’t. Two
pole positions and searing pace in several races, stunted only by
minor, but time consuming, problems, made this effort a real fan
favourite: with a beautifully presented American supercar having
its neck wrung by a team of hard charging pilots, the challenge
from the Saleen meant that the Corvettes could not rest on their
laurels until the final chequered flag had fallen.
Surprise of the Year 2005 for North America is the pace
of the ACEMCO Saleen S7R.