World Challenge Heads North to Mosport BOWMANVILLE, Canada (May 13, 2009) -- No, it's not August, when the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships have most recently been making the journey north of the border. This time around, the...
World Challenge Heads North to Mosport
BOWMANVILLE, Canada (May 13, 2009) -- No, it's not August, when the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships have most recently been making the journey north of the border. This time around, the series returns to its roots, and will visit a spring time Mosport International Raceway headlining this weekend's Victoria Day Speedfest.
Will Eric Curran be able to score a Mosport hat trick? The winner of the last two World Challenge GT races at Mosport has come out of the gate strong in 2009, save for an unfortunate technical DQ in the most recent round at New Jersey Motorsports Park. If not for that, the driver of the No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette would be leading the Drivers' Championship right now. Curran will turn that frustration into motivation this weekend, as he aims to record his first win of the 2009 season and his third World Challenge GT win in-a-row at Mosport.
Standing in Curran's way no doubt, will be the No. 1 and No. 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60s of Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim. What looked like the start of a learning season for the team at Sebring, where only Pilgrim started the race, has now turned into another Championship-worthy effort by the K-PAX/3R crew. So dominant was the team's one-two finish in Round Three at New Jersey, that the SCCA Pro Racing technical department saw no other choice but to add additional weight to the cars. The all-wheel drive of the Volvos will be a major advantage this weekend should the Ontario weather be as unpredictable as seasons' past. After all, who could forget Michael Galati scoring Volvo's first World Challenge win at Mosport in 2006, nearly lapping the entire field in a vicious rainstorm?
Drivers' Championship point leader Brandon Davis would certainly like a win this weekend, but he'd like to maintain his point lead even more, something easier said than done on a fast and furious course like Mosport. Of course, the high speeds of this 10-turn, 2.459-mile course is what lends itself well to the powerful No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions/SunMirco Systems Ford Mustang, which Davis qualified in fourth here last year. He never made it to Turn One though, after a clutch failure left his Mustang motionless on the starting grid, striking the fatal blow to Davis' Championship aspirations. Should disaster strike again, he'll have more time to recover the points this time around, but the ACS Express team has been steering clear of mechanical hiccups so far this season.
A pair of Porsche drivers follow Davis in the Drivers' Championship heading into Mosport. James Sofronas is only six points behind Davis, but has struggled at this track in the past. In 12 starts, the driver of the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 has only cracked the top five twice, the most recent being in 2006 when he finished fourth. After a win at his home track, Long Beach, this season appears to be like no other for Sofronas, so his run of bad luck in Bowmanville just might be coming to an end.Currently third in the Championship, Tony Rivera will be starting his first World Challenge GT race at Mosport in the No. 97 Tax Masters/Mirage Group Porsche 911 GT3 this weekend, but has tasted champagne at Mosport before. Last year Rivera won two IMSA Challenge GT3 cup races here, even winning one race overall despite racing in the Gold Cup class for older-model cars.
The combined success of Sofronas and Rivera has placed Porsche on top of the World Challenge GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER Magazine. The German marque currently has 21 points, followed by Ford with 15, Volvo and Chevrolet with 12 and Viper with five.
Viper could pick up several points this weekend with the return of Jason Daskalos in the No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper and Jeff Courtney in the No. 99 KENDA/JTM ITW/Coins of America Dodge Viper, who were both absent at New Jersey. 2008 World Challenge GT Rookie of the Year Gunter Schaldach represented the marque well however, finishing a career-best fourth in the No. 9 Lala Motorsports Dodge Viper.
With World Challenge GT running solo at Long Beach, World Challenge Touring Car has some catching up to do and will therefore be treating fans to a doubleheader at Mosport. With double the points on the line, this weekend could prove to be a critical stop on the 2009 calendar.
After an off season of uncertainty, Jason Saini is all smiles, starting off his season with back-to-back podium finishes, including a win at Thunderbolt Raceway. The driver of the No. 74 MAZDASPEED/Stoptech/ProParts MAZDA6 now leads the Drivers' Championship by 29 points and certainly has to be confident heading to a track where he finished second last year. Saini's runner-up finish at Mosport in 2008 clinched his World Challenge Touring Car Rookie of the Year title, and two solid performances this weekend may lead the way to a clinch of the Championship kind later this season.
Saini's teammate Eric Foss continues to follow in his footsteps as the highest placed rookie in the Championship. Driving the No. 75 MAZDASPEED/Stoptech/ProParts MAZDA6, Foss made his mark straight away with a hard-earned fourth-place finish at Sebring. He followed it up with a sixth-place finish at Thunderbolt, which currently puts him fifth in the Championship. Foss knows what he's getting into this weekend, having participated in Victoria Day Speedfest last year with the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. Foss earned the pole for that race and finished second en route to earning the 2008 Championship.
RealTime Racing hasn't stumbled a bit in its transition from the 2008 Acura TSX to the 2009 TSX. Driving the car in its debut at Sebring, Peter Cunningham finished ninth and then collected second place at Thunderbolt after leading the opening laps in the No. 1 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX. Pierre Kleinubing proved it was no fluke, finishing his new body style No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX in fifth. That combined with a runner-up finish at Sebring has placed Kleinubing second in the Championship.
Unfortunately for Cunningham and Kleinubing, none of that will matter, as the Mosport crowd will no doubt put its support behind their Canadian teammate Kuno Wittmer. Driving the 2008 body style No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX, Wittmer had a tough start to the season with an uncharacteristic DNF at Sebring following mechanical trouble. The young Canuck bounced back quickly though, scoring the pole at Thunderbolt. Wittmer would end up starting fifth, however, after losing the post-qualifying coin flip, which caused the top five on the grid to invert. He hung on for a fourth-place finish and is now seventh in the Championship.
New Jersey was a big disappointment for Seth Thomas. After winning his first World Challenge race in Round One at Sebring and qualifying second at Thunderbolt, Thomas' No. 38 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW 328i was left by itself on the start grid with a broken halfshaft. But you won't find Thomas dwelling on New Jersey or even his ill-fated last-lap passing attempt on Chip Herr at Mosport last year. Thomas has more important things on his mind, like his first daughter Adelyn Grace who was born on Monday. The entire field should keep an eye on Thomas this weekend, who will be going like gangbusters to get through the weekend and hurry home to his new baby.
It will be a busy schedule for the World Challenge teams this weekend with all practice sessions taking place Saturday, May 16, as well as a World Challenge Touring Car qualifying session and 3:10 p.m. (EDT) race. Another round of qualifying for Touring Car starts the day on Sunday, followed by GT qualifying. The second half of the Touring Car doubleheader is slated for 11:30 a.m. (EDT), followed shortly thereafter by the GT race at 1:20 p.m. (EDT).
Anyone who can't make it to Mosport, including Thomas' wife Resa, can catch all the action on www.world-challenge.com, including live timing, lap notes, streaming audio, photo galleries and results. The first half of the World Challenge Touring Car doubleheader will air on SPEED, June 16 at 2 p.m. (EDT). The second Touring Car race and the World Challenge GT race will air July 7 at 2 p.m. (EDT).
-credit: scca pro racing