VIR: Series round seven preview

The Most Relevant Road Racing In The World Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010, the World Challenge Championship has built its legacy around providing fans the most competitive road racing in the world, and the series has...

The Most Relevant Road Racing In The World

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010, the World Challenge Championship has built its legacy around providing fans the most competitive road racing in the world, and the series has earned well-deserved praise the past few years from publications such as AutoWeek, Car & Driver and RACER Magazine for doing just that. But what really sets World Challenge GT, GTS and Touring Car apart from all other series is the "everyday" element it brings each event.JWorld-class drivers piloting production-based cars that come from more than 15 auto manufacturers -- it's a formula that has and will continue to serve the interests of manufacturers, drivers and, most importantly, automotive enthusiasts and race fans.

Same Great Series, Hot New Look

2010 marks just the third overall visit by the World Challenge Championships to Virginia International Raceway, and just the second for the highly touted GT class. For the first time since 1999, World Challenge features combined class racing. The GT, Touring Car and new-for-2010 GTS class will now need to navigate not only the track, but the additional race traffic -- adding to the racing excitement. The combination of classes provides more time in the schedule, which the series has filled with more racing. Four of the eight venues hosting World Challenge races in 2010, including VIR, will get to see their favorite drivers race twice during the weekend, totaling 12 races, the most in series history.

Wide Open Championships

This weekend, World Challenge has 37 cars on the entry list amongst the three classes. The GT entry list for VIR includes the Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Porsche 911 GT3 and Volvo S60. GTS and Touring Car lists include the Acura TSX, BMW E46 325i, Dodge SRT-4, Honda Civic Si, Lexus IS300, Mazda RX-8 and MAZDASPEED3, Porsche Cayman S, Scion tC, and Volkswagen GTI and Jetta GLI, making World Challenge grids among the most diverse of any race series in North America.

Something For The Fans

Throughout the year, Sports Car Wars-themed World Challenge events will create memorable fan experiences. In addition to the Manufacturers' Fan Championship, fans cheering on their favorite marques will be able to participate in the "March to the Grid" and an enhanced post-race celebration. The crown jewel for the fans is the bragging rights associated with the Manufacturers' Fan Championship. The award acknowledges World Challenge fans that best exhibit the support of their favorite brand, team and driver. At each race, a committee of World Challenge officials decides which enthusiast group exhibited the most spirit - naming them, as a group, the fans of the race.

World Challenge GT -- Loving The Championship Battle In Virginia

With just three rounds remaining in the World Challenge Championship season, the two races at Virginia International Raceway are pivotal for anyone hoping to catch GT Championship leader Randy Pobst.

Even with a good weekend, the field may need some luck to catch the driver of the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60. Boosted by a series-leading three wins and six pole positions, Pobst has scored 955 championship points and leads second-place Kuno Wittmer by 146 points.

With 110 points for winning a race, 15 points for a pole position and five bonus points available for both leading a lap and leading the most laps, there are 135 points available each race -- enough to close the 955 -- 809 advantage that Pobst holds, but likely only if Pobst falters.

Wittmer could be a threat in the No. 13 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Viper, as he was the last World Challenge driver to win a race at VIR, albeit in the Touring Car class, in 2008.

Behind Wittmer in the standings is James Sofronas, who has finished no lower than second in the last three races, including a win at Mid-Ohio, to garner his 784 championship points in the No. 14 GMG Porsche 911 GT3. GMG teammate Dino Crescentini is fourth with 723 points in the No. 4 Centric Parts/Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3.

Patrick Lindsey (711 points) sits fifth in the No. 57 Horton/Sloan Securities Porsche 911 GT3 after top-five finishes in the past six races. Pobst's teammate, Andy Pilgrim, battled mechanical issues throughout the middle of the season but has finished on the podium in two of the past three races and remains in sixth behind the wheel of the No. 8 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 with 708 points.

Among the racers further back in the points but still mathematically alive for the title are Jason Daskalos (679 points, driving the No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper), Rob Morgan (616 points, No. 46 TruSpeed Motorsports/Querencia Porsche 911 GT3), Jeff Courtney (597 points, No. 99 Kenda Tire Dodge Viper), and Tony Gaples (559 points, No. 29 Kleinschmidt/Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette).

Fred Roberts has seemingly locked up the GameStreamer GT Rookie-of-the-Year award in the No. 89 Direct Energy Home Services Dodge Viper, but has his eyes on the top-10 in the Championship. He's currently trailed by Bill Ziegler in the No. 05 Swisher Racing/GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3.

One driver hoping to crash the party in his second World Challenge start of the season is Tomy Drissi in the No. 2 Carlisle Companies/Cragar Chevrolet Corvette. A full-time SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series driver, Drissi takes the wheel of a car that has won three races this year, two each by Ron Fellows (Mosport, Watkins Glen) and one by Mike Skeen in his World Challenge debut at Mid-Ohio.

Robert Prilika makes his second-consecutive World Challenge appearance this season behind the wheel of the No. 12 RPM Porsche GT3 Cup machine.

World Challenge Touring Car and GTS -- The Talent Keeps Coming

The World Challenge GTS championship is just a two-driver, intrasquad battle amongst Acura/RealTime Racing teammates Peter Cunningham (No. 43 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX) and Nick Esayian (No. 34 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX).

Cunningham, a five-time World Challenge champion and the all-time leader in wins and pole positions, holds a 164 point advantage of Esayian. Esayian has finished as the runner-up to his teammate in three of the last four races and would love nothing more than to push past for his first career World Challenge victory.

Even though they're the only two battling for the season-long crown, there is plenty of competition in the GTS class. Ernie Jakubowski, in the No. 91 Fuchs/CDOC/Forgeline Porsche Cayman S, led 13 laps at Mid-Ohio and finished on the podium. Kevin Helms and Team Hondaworks just missed the podium in the debut of the No. 04 DBA/Carbotech/AST/Exedy Acura RSX at Mid-Ohio with a fourth-place finish, a feat Helms matched at the season-opener at St. Petersburg.

Tommy Sadler makes his season debut in World Challenge in a third Acura/RealTime Racing TSX, a car that is sure to be competitive. Karl Poeltl also will debut behind the wheel of the No. 83 Racer's Edge/Wossner Pistons BMW E46 325i.

In Touring Car, Robert Stout holds the Championship lead by 149 points over Eric Meyer on the strength of Stout's three wins in his No. 18 DG-Spec/Scion/TRD/Lucas Oil Scion tC. Meyer sits second in points in the No. 32 XOWii/Samaritan's Feet/Delvira Mazda RX-8 and is looking for his first win.

While those two are battling for points, many more drivers are just gunning for race wins. Todd Buras returns in the No. 50 Irish Mike's Racing Volkswagen Jetta GLI and is an immediate favorite. The driver/car combination won the opening two rounds of the season in St. Petersburg, but an accident in another race series just a few weeks later at this same VIR track left Buras with broken ribs and unable to get behind the wheel of a car. He makes his return this weekend hoping to extend his winning streak.

Greg Shaffer drove one of those Irish Mike's cars at Mosport, but this week sits behind the wheel of the No. 36 DG-Spec/Scion/TRD Scion tC, a teammate of Stout's. Driven by Dan Gardner and Tom Lepper this season, the No. 36 is just 24 points behind the No. 32 for second in the team championship.

Robb Holland (No. 22 303 Motorsports/Track Pro/Emich VW Volkswagen GTI) finished third at Mosport, and Devin Cates (No. 23 Cates Engineering Volkswagen GTI) finished third at Mid-Ohio in a GTS class Mustang -- both could contend at VIR. Brett Sandberg (No. 28 Whitehall Stable Acura TSX) is fourth in points but still searching for a podium, while Shea Holbrook (No. 67 Honda Civic Si) earned a top-five at Toronto and hopes to better that in Virginia.

Stan Wilson (No. 92 Net Evidence/Alliance1 Dodge SRT-4) makes his season debut at VIR, while Charlie Solomon (No. 21 Racing Mazda RX-8), Carolyn Kujala (No. 40 Go 4 It Racing Schools/Hawk Volkswagen Jetta GLI), Michael Pettiford (No. 41 Go 4 It Racing Schools/Hawk Volkswagen Jetta GLI), Don Istook (No. 01 Revo Technik/Stoptech Volkswagen GTI) and Colin Cohen (No. 02 Istook Motorsports Volkswagen GTI) all return to action for the doubleheader.

Three cars will have different drivers on Saturday and Sunday. Triston Herbert and Alex Ratcliffe will share the No. 62 Brimtek/ Lexus IS300, Carl Hober and Branden Peterson split the weekend in the No. 64 Comp. Clutch/Supertech Perf. Honda Civic Si, and David Tuaty and Jose Armengol will each race the No. 66 Honda Civic Si.

-source: scca pro racing

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Series PWC
Drivers Ron Fellows , Andy Pilgrim , Randy Pobst , Tomy Drissi , Peter Cunningham , Rob Morgan , Michael Pettiford , Nick Esayian , Stan Wilson , Don Istook , Robert Prilika , David Tuaty , Kuno Wittmer , James Sofronas , Tony Gaples , Dino Crescentini , Kevin Helms , Jeff Courtney , Robb Holland , Jason Daskalos , Todd Buras , Carl Hober , Colin Cohen , Mike Skeen , Patrick Lindsey , Fred Roberts , Eric Meyer , Dan Gardner , Alex Ratcliffe , Devin Cates , Robert Stout , Brett Sandberg , Ernie Jakubowski , Charlie Solomon , Carolyn Kujala , Bill Ziegler , Greg Shaffer
Teams RealTime Racing , K-Pax Racing