Pirelli World Challenge TC: Winchester Set To Take Class Title
After finishing third in 2012, Ryan Winchester is set to secure the Touring Car class title for Karl Thomson's Compass360 Racing team. Winchester, in the No. 72 C360R/Ligion Industries/HPD Honda Civic Si, won his fourth and fifth races of the 2013 season last time out at Sonoma and increased his gap from 231 points entering to 297 leaving the West Coast.
His two full-season teammates, Brett Sandberg and Remo Ruscitti, will complete a C360R top three points sweep as they continue to scrap for further victories of their own. Sandberg, in the No. 70 C360R/GearTie.com/HPD Honda Civic Si, has three wins this season while talented rookie Ruscitti,in the No. 71 C360R/Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si, seeks an elusive first victory in one of the two Houston races.
Compass360 adds two other cars to its stable for a total of five in Houston. Ray Mason, returns for his second weekend of the year in the No. 76 C360R/Columbus Truck/HPD Honda Civic Si having finished seventh and sixth at Mid-Ohio. Ruscitti will have a Canadian countryman in the form of Michael DiMeo, in the No. 73 C360R/racing4research.org/HPD Honda Civic Si.
Despite a run of four consecutive race wins at Toronto and Mid-Ohio, defending TC champion Michael Cooper has also had some tough luck at races this year and enters the weekend fifth in points. He'll carry the Mazda banner in the No. 1 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda Mazdaspeed 3.
Mazda MX-5 Cup regular Sebastian Landy is entered in another Atlanta Motorsports Group Miata, the No. 49 Excitations/Radium Interactive Mazda. The class is also set to feature Fred Emich in the No. 30 Emich VW/HPA Motorsports Volkswagen Jetta and Brad Adams and in the No. 96 Voodoo/DatDog/Yo MTV Raps! Mazda MX-5. Jon Miller ranks fourth in the season standings, but is not entered for the season finale.
Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec – Still a Razor Thin Gap Between Francis Jr., Davis
Entering Sonoma, Ernie Francis Jr. led Robbie Davis by just two points in Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec: 1036-1034. Leaving Sonoma, Francis led Davis by exactly one – 1242-1241! Simply put, it is winner-take-all between these two this weekend.
Francis Jr., in the 98 Festivals of Speed/Breathless Performance Mazda 2 scored his sixth win in dramatic fashion in Round 11 with a last lap pass of Davis, and scored his seventh in a more traditional form in Round 12. However, post-race points penalties were assessed following technical infractions, so what had been a larger gap in the unofficial points released has been closed to just the one marker.
That gives Davis, in the No. 37 MINI of Charleston Racing MINI Cooper a serious chance to take the crown away. Although he only has three wins to Francis Jr.'s seven, Davis has the extra motivation of racing on home soil and the determination to beat his season-long rival in what has been an excellent fight between them.
At 114 points back in third place, Joel Lipperini would need both of the aforementioned to have issues in both races to steal the crown, but he is still mathematically alive. Lipperini has a pair of wins in 2013 in the No. 81 RaceLabz Honda Fit, including one at the most recent street race weekend in Toronto.
Rounding out the top five in points of full-season entrants are Ernie Francis Sr., in the No. 2 Hydraulic Jeans Mazda 2 and another Breathless Performance entry, David Alejandro, in the No. 99 Claims Support Inc.com Mazda 2. Francis Sr. has accrued 948 points and Alejandro 717 this season.
The No. 24 4R Motorsports MINI Cooper is in-between that pair with 846 points, largely on the efforts of rookie Tyler Palmer, who has six podium finishes from seven starts. Palmer seeks his first career win in the No. 24 BlackForest Porsche/Emich Volkswagen/Mobil 1 car this weekend.
Other full-season entrants competing at Houston include P.J. Groenke, in the No. 66 MulliganGold/Tundra/Verax.ca Honda Fit, Shea Holbrook, in the No. 67 TrueCar/Hendrick Honda/Lucas Oil Honda Fit, Jack Murray, in the No. 11 Roadrace Motorsports/Abarth Motorsports/MDG Fiat 500, Jim Cleveland in the No. 78 Fiat by Executive Fiat 500, Chris Capaldiin the No. 22 Wolverine Bronze Company Ford Fiesta and Fernando Seferlis, in the No. 77 Compulab Mazda 2.
Besides Davis and Murray, Texas has two other natives racing in Houston this weekend in TCB. Rookie James Wilson will compete in the No. 80 DustlessAir.com HVAC Filters Mazda 2 and Steve Taake will drive the No. 95 Deeter Mazda/Mazdaspeed Mazda 2 in his home race. Wilson makes his first TCB start of 2013, and Taake returns for the first time since Circuit of the Americas in May.
Mazda MX-5 Cup regular Charles Paquin races for CJ Wilson Racing in the No. 27 ModSpace/Construct Corps Mazda 2. Fellow Ontario native Chase Pelletier races in the No. 12 AnimasCorp/Honda/AmerDiabetes Honda Fit.
Jonathan Baker, in the No. 32 32 Racing Honda Fit, Andrei Kisel, in the No. 54 laptopscreen.com MINI Cooper and Chris Sneed, in the No. 01 Sneed4Speed MINI Cooper, round out the 19-car class.
GT/GTS: Friday, October 4, 5:25 PM CST
TC/TCB: Friday, October 4, 5:55 PM CST
TC/TCB: Saturday, October 5, 5:15 PM CST
GT/GTS: Sunday, October 6, 10:45 AM CST
GT/GTS, 50 minutes
TC/TCB, 25 minutes apiece.
Television (on NBC Sports Network): Sunday, October 20 – 4:00 PM (EST)
Live Internet Telecast (on www.world-challengeTV.com):
Saturday, October 5 TC/TCB – 6:00 PM EDT/5:00 PM CDT
Sunday, October 6 GT/GTS – 11:15 AM EDT/10:15 AM CDT