Sears Point preview

SCCA Pro Racing Speedvision World Challenge Championships Round Six - XFactor Grand Prix of Sonoma <pre> Event/Circuit: XFactor Grand Prix of Sonoma Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. Superchips Qualifying: Touring...

SCCA Pro Racing Speedvision World Challenge Championships Round Six - XFactor Grand Prix of Sonoma <pre> Event/Circuit: XFactor Grand Prix of Sonoma Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, Calif.

Superchips Qualifying: Touring Car: Saturday, July 21, 10:15 a.m. (Pacific) GT: Saturday, July 21, 10:40 a.m. (Pacific)

Green Light: Touring Car: Saturday, July 21, 3:50 p.m. (Pacific) (standing start)GT: Sunday, July 22, 3:15 p.m. (Pacific)

Race Length: 50 minutes or a specified distance, whichever occurs first.

Television: All Speedvision World Challenge races are broadcast on a tape-delayed basis on the Speedvision Network. Initial broadcasts for Touring Car and GT races are back-to-back, beginning Friday, August 10 at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)


Defending Speedvision Touring Car Champion Pierre Kleinubing has been on a tear thus far in 2001, recording three wins, a second and a fourth in the five races leading up to Sears Point in the No. 1 RealTime Racing Acura Integra Type R. Kleinubing maintains a massive 37-point advantage over Don Salama (148-111) with 34 points maximum available per event. Team owner Peter Cunningham also comes off of his third win of the season (Detroit) in his Speedvision GT Championship Acura NSX SC. However, the NSX, which has topped the majority of sessions in 2001 and taken four poles, has now received a boost reduction of three pounds (eight to five) and a rev limit reduction of 1000 RPM (to 8000 RPM) in an effort to bring it in line with the remainder of the field. Cunningham, who had a mechanical DNF at Lime Rock, sits second in GT points to Michael Galati's Audi S4 Competition, 146 to 135.


Mazda has made a major commitment to become competitive in the Speedvision Touring Car category this season, and Lime Rock saw the first time a Mazda has led a race in some time. David Leslie (Mirko Racing Mazda 626) led the first portion of the rain race at Lime Rock before a fogged windshield forced him from contention, and he ran a solid second to Kleinubing in the second race before a mechanical failure. The new Mazda Protégé ES has also been getting faster out of the ICY-SL, TriPoint, Driven Performance and AWR stables. Both cars have received a 50 lb. weight reduction heading into Sears Point, along with the Honda Civic Si.


Defending Speedvision GT Champion Jeff McMillin had a disappointing first half of his 2001 season in the No. 1 JJ's Snacks/John Hancock BMW M3-finishing out of the top-10 twice, something he never did in 2000. His third place finish at Detroit could be the signal that the Champion is turning his season around, and he will debut a beautiful new BMW M3 E46 (new body) car at Sears Point.


At least 18 drivers reside in the Northern California/Sears Point area and look to capitalize on their knowledge of Sears Point Raceway. They are, in GT: Mark Kibort (Saratoga), Steve Dinan (Mountain View), John Young (Woodside), Justin Marks (Woodside) and Johannes van Overbeek (Danville); and in Touring Car: Albert Mirko (Morgan Hill), Shauna Marinus (Folsom), Ken Dobson (Carmel Valley), Taz Harvey (Danville), Terry McCarthy (Mountain View), Bobby Carter (Danville), John Green (Roseville), Jonathan Meris (Elk Grove), Neil Vanni (Cupertino), Peter Bovenberg (Campbell), Paul Lambert (Los Gatos), Tom Olivier (San Rafael), and Roger Foo (Hayward).


Several new faces are on tap in both classes, hoping to make an early-season impact. TC Kline Racing, which moves to Speedvision GT from Touring Car in 2000, has signed James Sofronas to drive for the entire season in one of his BMW M3s. Former NASCAR Trucks Driver John Young enters the series in a new Saleen SR. Endurance Champion G&W Motorsports joins the fray with two new Porsche 911 GT3 Cups for rookie Justin Marks and former race-winner Johannes van Overbeek. Grand Sport Racing will field a Corvette for former Pro Spec Racer standout Bobby Sak. In Speedvision Touring Car, Mark Hein and former racewinner John Green enter the series with Acura Integra Type Rs which took them to victory in the Spa 24 Hours in 2000. Three-time Valvoline Runoffs Champion Paul Bonaccorsi joins TriPoint Motorsports in a new Mazda Protégé, joined by Folsom's Shauna Marinus, who moves over from a TC Kline BMW in 2000. Brazilian Carlos Steyer joins the RealTime camp which also has 2000 Porsche Cup Champion Mike Fitzgerald at the wheel. Runoffs Champion Rob Hines and Paul Orwitz join duPont Motorsports in BMWs. Paul Lambert will pilot one of newly-formed Stasis Engineering Audi A4 Quattros. Roger Foo is set for a full season in a Honda Civic Si. Mike Buzzetti becomes the third owner of the Acura which took Michael Galati to the Championship in 1999.


One of the biggest surprises in this summer's box office has been the sports import-charged The Fast and the Furious, raking in an amazing $115m in its first four weeks of release-solidifying the sports import market as one of the most influential and important sects of society today. With the Speedvision Touring Car Championship serving as "The Official Racing Series of the Sports Compact Revolution," the series is growing rapidly as well, serving as a more controlled, safer version of the street racing depicted in the movie. Incidentally, Driven, the Champ Car-based movie earned less than $35m in its box office run.


The biggest off-season happening series-wide was the announcement of a new relationship and spec tire contract with Toyo Tires. This year, the cars will run on the Toyo Proxes T1-S ultra high-performance shaved street tires. These are not race tires, so look for the cars to do more sliding.

-SCCA/SCCA ProRacing-

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Series PWC
Drivers John Young , Pierre Kleinubing , Michael Galati , David Leslie , Bobby Sak , Ken Dobson , Justin Marks , Paul Lambert , Peter Cunningham , Jeff McMillin , Johannes van Overbeek , Taz Harvey , Roger Foo , Don Salama , Albert Mirko , Neil Vanni , James Sofronas , Bobby Carter , Terry McCarthy , Mark Kibort , Mark Hein