Beginning in 2007, the Grand-Am Cup series was sponsored by KONI shock absorbers and renamed the KONI Challenge Series. The three-year agreement between Grand-Am and KONI called for the company to offer the richest purse in the series history - $100,000 per event. The winning Grand Sport team would earn $5,000 but the prize fund doubled to $10,000 if the car was equipped with KONI shock absorbers. Street Tuner competitors were competing for a similar payout - $3,750 to the winner and $7,500 if the vehicle is fitted with KONIs.

The 2007 season consisted of twelve race weekends and started in January at Daytona International Speedway, which was followed by a second event in Florida at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In April, the series would make their first visit to Iowa Speedway then move on to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Lime Rock Park. In June, the teams traveled north of the border to compete at Mosport International Raceway after this event, race weekends took place Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. In August, teams made their second visit to Canada, where the action would take place on the streets of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. The penultimate round was held at Utah’s Miller Motorsports Park, with the finale being conducted at Virginia International Raceway. The Grand Sport and Street Tuner classes had separate races – the exceptions being Daytona, Watkins Glen and Miller Motorsports Park, where they competed in a single event.

The cars are relatively unchanged from their road-going counterparts – modifications are mandated mainly for safety – roll cages, window nets, etc. They also use spec DOT-approved tires produced by Hoosier. Based on performance potential, the cars were divided into one of two groups:

  • Grand Sport (GS): The quicker of the two classes - the group features the larger displacement engines as well as smaller four-cylinder motors with forced induction systems. The power-plants produce between 350 and 405-horsepower. Minimum weights range between 2,900 – 3,300-pounds, which is dependent on the motor configuration and displacement. This class includes cars such as the BMW M3, Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang and Porsche 997.
  • Street Tuner (ST): The smaller displacement cars compete in this class in which engines typically produce between 170 and 240-horsepower. Popular vehicles found in this group are the Acura RSX, Acura TSX, Mazda RX-8, Mazda MX-5, Honda Accord, BMW 330i, Subaru Legacy, Chevrolet Cobalt SS and Mini Cooper S.

    After a one-year absence, the KONI Challenge series returned to Mosport International Raceway. Teams competed in the Mosport 200 (200-miles / 95-laps subject to a time limit) around the 2.459-mile ten-turn road course.

Twenty-eight drivers charge into Mosport International Raceway’s corner one for the start of round six of the 2007 KONI Challenge series. Leading the field is the pole-sitter, Don Salama driving the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3. Trailing Salama is the Kinetic Motorsports BMW of the third-fastest qualifier, Shawn Price. Next to Price is the other front row starter, Tom Long, in a BMW prepared by Automatic Racing.
It was a popular victory for Joe Foster and local driver, Scott Maxwell. Forster was fourth fastest in qualifying and ran as high as third. During his turn behind the wheel, Maxwell moved into the top spot and controlled the race to the checkered flag. The win was the first the Hyper Sport team and Joe Foster. The result also extended Foster’s lead in the Grand Sport championship chase to eighteen points over Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal.
The Kenny Wilden/Dean Martin entry was forced to start at the rear of the grid (twenty-eighth place) after their car failed the post-qualifying technical inspection. Martin put the Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang GT into the top-ten during the first thirty-minutes of the race. Wilden moved the Mustang up to third and inherited a runner-up finish when the No. 5 Blackforest Mustang had to make two additional pit-stops.
Automatic Racing entered three BMW M3. The fastest of the trio was the No. 09 shared by title contenders, Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal. Thornton was fifteenth fastest during the qualifying session and improved his position in the race. During his stint, Segal moved up the race order and inherited the final spot on the podium when the Mustang of David Empringham and Tom Nastasi encountered a mechanical issue.
At Mosport International Raceway, Don Salama earned his fourth Grand Sport pole position of the season. Salama was also the fastest qualifier at Iowa Speedway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Lime Rock Park. Unfortunately, he and his co-driver, Will Turner, were not delivering the same performance in the races, their best result to date was an eighth at Iowa. The trend continued with a twenty-fourth-place finish at Mosport.
Blackforest Motorsports’ driver, Tom Nastasi, won the first three rounds of the season but poor results since Laguna Seca left him tied for second in the standings with Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal. Nastasi was partnered with David Empringham at Mosport. The No. 5 Ford Mustang GT was gridded sixth for the start. Empringham was running second when the car developed a fuel pickup issue. They would finish fifth.
The No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997 was driven by Hugh Plumb and Craig Stanton. Stanton started the season with BGB, but Plumb was joining the team for the first time at Mosport. The results thus far were dismal. The Porsche qualified thirteenth, but Plumb arrived late to the grid and started from the pit line. He moved into the top-ten during his stint and Stanton made similar progress. He was in fifth place at the checkered flag.
The KONI Challenge Grand Sport podium for round six at Mosport International Raceway. In the center are the winners, Scott Maxwell and Joe Foster. This was the first series victory for Foster and the Hyper Sport team. Standing on the left side is the runner-ups, Dean Martin and local resident, Ken Wilden. Completing the rostrum are Automatic Racing’s, Jep Thornton and Jeff Segal.

14Joe Foster / Scott MaxwellFord Mustang GT95
228Ken Wilden / Dean MartinFord Mustang GT95
315Jep Thornton / Jeff SegalBMW M395
46Tom Nastasi / David EmpringhamFord Mustang GT95
513Hugh Plumb / Craig StantonPorsche 99795
612Andy Lally / Ted BallouPorsche 99795
77Jon Miller / Owen TrinklerBMW M395
812Tim George Jr / Conrad GrunewaldBMW M394
916Kris Wilson / Dave RiddlePorsche 99794
1017Tim Traver / Mikel MillerPorsche 99794
1114Travis Walker / Valerie LimogesFord Mustang GT94
1211Bret Seafuse / James GueFord Mustang GT94
1322Jack Roush / Dean MartinFord Mustang GT94
1420Fraser Wellon / Barry EllisPorsche 99694
1523John Bibbo / Scott SchroederPorsche 99794
1618Spencer Pumpelly / Johnny MillerPorsche 99793
173Shawn Price / Bryan OrtizBMW M393
1827Mark Ackley / Todd SnyderFord Mustang GT93
1919Ray Mason / Jamie SloneFord Mustang GT93
2024Mike Johnson / Bob HeniffPorsche 99792
2126Ludovico Manfredi / Serge Glazunov, JrPorsche 99790
2225Frank Rossi / Marcelo AbelloPorsche 99690
2310Bill Auberlen / Chris GleasonBMW M369
241Don Salama / Will TurnerBMW M357
255Jean-Francois Dumoulin / Louis-Philippe Dumoulin / Michael VongPorsche 99757
262Tom Long / David RussellBMW M355
279Dave Lacey / Mark WilkinsFord Mustang GT40
2821Duncan Ende / Grant MaimanPorsche 99729

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