Ryan Winchester, of Mason City, IA and Joel Lipperini, of Pittston, PA, captured the Touring Car and Touring Car B-Spec class victories in Round 6 of the Pirelli World Challenge season at the Cadillac Lime Rock Park Grand Prix.
Winchester's third win of the season for Karl Thomson's Compass360 Racing is the sixth for the team in as many TC races. Winchester, driving the No. 72 C360R/Ligion Industries/HPD Honda Civic Si, completed 37 laps in the 40-minute race at an average speed of 80.857 mph.
Winchester started second behind Cody Ellsworth, of Monticello, NY, in the No. 40 Redcom/BERG Racing Porsche Boxster. But Winchester led a Compass360 three-car sweep around Ellsworth at the start, moving into a lead that he never relinquished.
"I got to set the pace after a good start, which is a good feeling on a hot day like this," said Winchester. "That way you don't push too hard if you don't need to. Going through TCB traffic, it's all about momentum so you can't give an inch. I had to dodge a few instances of that. I'm glad to win."
Behind Winchester, Remo Ruscitti, of Vancouver, Canada in the No. 71 C360R/Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si and Clark Toppe, of The Woodlands, Texas, in the No. 10 Kinetic Motorsports KIA Forte Koup completed the podium after a hard battle between them. Toppe's pass for second place on Lap 28 secured him the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award.
"We'll get one soon – maybe next weekend in Toronto, as a home race being Canadian and with my family coming," said Ruscitti, who scored his fifth podium finish of the season. "We had a little bit of bad luck. I had to come back after I got hit in the back about three times."
Toppe, one of two 15-year-olds in the series, made it on to the podium for the second time this weekend in his Pirelli World Challenge debut. He recovered after his first ever standing start, when he dropped as far back as 11th in the 14-car class.
"It feels really good; big thanks to the Kinetic guys who gave me a really great KIA," said Toppe. "Remo capitalized on traffic and my mistakes, as I was holding P2 at one point. The standing starts, I was pretty horrible at that! I fell back to last in class. It was a big battle ahead of me but thanks to the guys on the radio to help me make it through."
Jon Miller, of Orlando, FL, in the No. 68 Titan Motorsports/Loudbasstard Honda Civic Si, ran as high as second for Shea Racing with a couple great passing maneuvers, but fell back to fourth at the finish. Meanwhile, Brett Sandberg, of Allendale, NJ, recovered to fifth place in the No. 70 C360R/GearTie.com/HPD Honda Civic Si, after dropping to as low as 10th place on Lap 24. Sandberg was unable to complete the weekend sweep after winning Round 4 and Round 5 on Thursday.
Michael Cooper, of Syosset, NY in the No. 1 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda Mazdaspeed 3, finished 10th but had the best start of the race, advancing from 12th place up to fifth. That launch netted him the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award.
Lipperini secured his first career TCB class win and Honda's first this season with the Fit, after Mazda and MINI had won the first five races between them. It was a needed bounce back result for Lipperini, who finished 18th and fifth in Thursday's two races.
After starting third, Lipperini passed Motul polesitter Charlie James, of Joplin, MO, in the No. 0 SafeRacer MINI Cooper on Lap 3 and never looked back. The move secured Lipperini the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race Award.
"After qualifying on the outside of front row, then putting it in the wall twice, once of my own doing, the crew worked all day and night to get it back together," said Lipperini. "The car handled well and we were able to get going. It's very nice to get Honda their first TCB class win this year. I knew I would be competitive here in Lime Rock."
Behind the race winner, two drivers made big gains from their starting positions. Ernie Francis Jr., of Davie, FL in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda 2, climbed from 18th in class all the way to second. Rookie Tyler Palmer, of Oceanside, CA, completed his first weekend in the No. 24 BlackForest Porsche/Mobil 1 BMW MINI Cooper with podiums in all three races. On Saturday in Round 6, he finished third, after finishes of third and second in Rounds 4 and 5.
Both drivers were assisted by a full course caution on Lap 16, which flew when Fernando Seferlis, a rookie from Panama driving the No. 77 Compulab Mazda 2, had an accident at Turn 6. Francis Jr. improved from fifth to third after the restart, while Palmer went on a methodical march from eighth up to third.
"The full course caution really helped out," said Francis Jr. "At the line I was able to get the two cars ahead of me, and made it up to third. When other cars had spun in front of me, it gave me an opportunity for second. It's pretty nice to be back up here and the crew did a lot of work to the car to get it back running."
Palmer recovered from a drive-through penalty after the standing start to keep MINI on the podium behind the Honda and Mazda.
"Today with the standing start, my first ever, the lights came on and weren't supposed to go," said Palmer. "Then I went and had to do the drive-through penalty. I hit my marks and passed everyone; the full course caution helped me out a bit. It was a great race for the BlackForest Porsche/Discount Tire/Mobil 1 MINI."
Points are provisional after six of 14 races, but in TC, Winchester's win moves him ahead of Sandberg by 56 points, 769-713. Ruscitti is third with 565 points and Miller is fourth with 491.
In TCB, the top three drivers are within 100 points of each other. Robbie Davis, of Dallas, TX in the No. 37 MINI of Charleston Racing MINI Cooper, still leads the standings despite an eighth place finish in Round 6. He won both Rounds 4 and 5 on Thursday. Davis has 627 points while Francis Jr. is second with 596 and James is third with 569.
The Cadillac Lime Rock Park Grand Prix races will be broadcast July 20 at 4 p.m. (EDT) on NBC Sports Network.
The Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car and Touring Car B-Spec classes' next race is north of the border on the streets of Toronto at Exhibition Place, July 12-14.
For more information on the series go to World-Challenge.com or follow on Twitter @WCRacing.
1. TC, (2), Ryan Winchester, Mason City, Iowa, Honda Civic Si, 37.
2. TC, (4), Remo Ruscitti(R), Vancouver, Calif., Honda Civic Si, 37, -2.113.
3. TC, (8), Clark Toppe(R), The Woodlands, Texas, Kia Forte Koup, 37, -3.346.
4. TC, (7), Jon Miller, Orlando, Fla., Honda Civic Si, 37, -12.473.
5. TC, (3), Brett Sandberg, Allendale, N.J., Honda Civic Si, 37, -19.332.
6. TC, (9), Robb Holland, Denver, Colo., Volkswagen Jetta GLI, 37, -20.243.
7. TC, (1), Cody Ellsworth(R), Monticello, N.Y., Porsche Boxster, 37, -20.656.
8. TC, (11), Pete McIntosh(R), Hillside, N.J., BMW 128i, 37, -24.033.
9. TC, (14), Josh Hurley, Gainesville, Fla., Mazda MX-5, 34, Engine.
10. TC, (12), Michael Cooper, Syosset, N.Y., Mazda3, 27, Trans.
11. TC, (6), Randy Hale, Haddom, Conn., Mazda MX-5, 10, Brakes.
12. TC, (10), Fred Emich, Denver, Colo., Volkswagen Jetta GLI, 8, Crash.
13. TC, (5), Bryce Miller, Reston Herbert, Va., Volkswagen Jetta GLI, 7, Mech.
14. TC, (13), Jeff Ricca(R), Milford, Conn., Hyundai Genesis Coupe, 0, DNS.
1. TCB, (17), Joel Lipperini, Pittston, Pa., Honda Fit, 35.
2. TCB, (32), Ernie Francis_Jr(R), Davie, Fla., Mazda2, 35, -4.940.
3. TCB, (19), Tyler Palmer(R), Oceanside, Calif., BMW Mini Cooper, 35, -11.699.
4. TCB, (21), Dave Rosenblum, Langhorn, Pa., Ford Fiesta, 35, -15.608.
5. TCB, (33), Johan Schwartz, Denmark, , Mini Cooper, 35, -15.919.
6. TCB, (24), P J Groenke, Toronto, Ontario, Honda Fit, 35, -16.688.
7. TCB, (22), Russell Smith, Buford, Ga., Kia Rio 5, 35, -17.026.
8. TCB, (16), Robbie Davis, Dallas, Texas, Mini Cooper, 35, -28.770.
9. TCB, (20), Ernie Francis(R), Davis, Fla., Mazda2, 35, -29.811.
10. TCB, (18), Shea Holbrook, Groveland, Fla., Honda Fit, 35, -30.789.
11. TCB, (26), Mike Asselta(R), Overland Park, Kansas, Mini Cooper, 35, -31.521.
12. TCB, (27), Peter Schwartzott(R), White Plains, N.Y., Chevy Sonic, 35, -31.859.
13. TCB, (23), Peter Schwartzott_Sr, White Plains, N.Y., Chevrolet Sonic, 34, -1 lap.
14. TCB, (28), David Alejandro(R), Pembrook Pines, Fla., Mazda2, 34, -1 lap.
15. TCB, (30), Chris Capaldi(R), Armada, Mich., Ford Fiesta, 34, -1 lap.
16. TCB, (31), Jim Cleveland(R), Queensland Australia, , Fiat 500, 34, -1 lap.
17. TCB, (29), Jack Murray(R), Montgomery, Texas, Fiat 500, 33, -2 lap.
18. TCB, (15), Charlie James(R), Joplin, Mo., Mini Cooper, 29, Mech.
19. TCB, (25), Fernando Seferlis(R), Panama, Mazda2, 13, Crash.
Time of race: 40 minutes, 28.189 seconds.
Average speed: 80.857 mph
Margin of victory: 2.113 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-37, #72 Ryan Winchester (TC), Laps 1-2, #0 Charlie James (R), 3-35 (TCB)
Fastest race lap: #71 Remo Ruscitti(R), 58.750 (90.321 mph), #0 Charlie James (R), 1:04.327 (82.491 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #40 Cody Ellsworth(R), 58.938 (90.033 mph), #0 Charlie James (R), 1:04.748 (81.954 mph)