Cadillac Sonoma Grand Prix Hits the Track
The Pirelli World Challenge Series returns to Sonoma for the Cadillac Sonoma Grand Prix, Aug. 24-25. Witness the GT, GTS, Touring Car and Touring Car B-Spec teams and competitors close out the 2012 season and make a final push for the championships.
Pirelli World Challenge races are a proverbial candy store for sports-car enthusiasts, as the four classes racing atSonoma (GT, GTS, Touring Car, Touring Car B-Spec) provide a competitive slot for nearly every sports car and sports sedan available.
Races are 50-minutes in length with the series’ trademark standing start, an electrifying explosion of engine revs and tire squeal. The 50-minute sprint format guarantees each driver is giving 100 percent from start to finish, because there are no scheduled pit stops or driver changes. With door-to-door racing, and all four classes running together, it’s like watching the intensity of the final lap, every lap. Fans will be treated to multiple races – round 12 of the GT and GTS season, Touring Car rounds 12, 13 and 14, and Touring Car B-Spec rounds seven, eight and nine.
2012 Class Overview:
World Challenge GT (black windshield banners)
The high-horsepower World Challenge GT Class has always provided the ground shaking rumble and thunder in the series. Heading into the final race weekend of the season, it’s coming down to the wire in the battle for GT Drivers’, and Manufacturers’ honors.
Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim have had a very successful season to date piloting the Cadillac Racing CTS-V Coupes. O’Connell won both GT races atDetroit's Belle Isle and the teammates were one-two in points at Mid-Ohio just a few weeks ago.
Lawson Aschenbach, the 2011 Touring Car Champion and 2006 GT Champion is piloting the No. 1 TruSpeed Motorsports/Privacy Star/Entrust Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Aschenbach won the Round 2 GT race atSt. Petersburgand sits third in the Drivers' Championship.
After a challenging 2011, K-PAX Racing are back with their Volvo S60s. Defending 2010 GT Driver's Champion Randy Pobst is back along with teammate and former ALMS and Champ Car driver Alex Figge. Figge won his first career Pirelli World Challenge race in round seven last year at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in only his third Pirelli World Challenge start.
World Challenge GTS (gray windshield banners)
Rookie Andy Lee in the Best IT Chevrolet Camaro has put together a tremendous season to date, including a clean sweep of the races in Detroit that put him in first place in the GTS Drivers’ Championship standings heading into the final two race weekends of the season.
RealTime Racing’s Peter Cunningham, the all-time World Challenge wins leader, piloted his No. 1 Acura TSX to a third place finish in the GTS Drivers’ Championship last year. Cunningham, the 2010 GTS Drivers’ Champion and teammate Nick Esayian look to get back on the top step and help Acura re-claim the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship.
Former Trans-Am Champion Jack Baldwin, in the GTSport Racing Hot Wheels Porsche Cayman, has also been a contender all year, winning on the streets ofLong Beachearlier in the season.
The 2012 season has marked the debut of the Kinetic Motorsports Kia Optimas in the series. Five-time World Challenge Drivers’ Champion Michael Galati is piloting one of the Optimas along with Canadian Mark Wilkins who is piloting the other Kia.Galatiand Wilkins swept both rounds eight and nine atCanadianTireMotosportPark(formerly Mosport);Galatiwon round eight while Wilkins came out on top a day later in round nine.
World Challenge Touring Car (yellow windshield banners)
With Lawson Aschenbach moving up to the GT class, the battle for top spot in Touring Car has been a wide-open battle for supremacy.
Michael Cooper, the 2011 Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion moved up the ladder to pilot the No. 03 Atlanta Motorsports Group MazdaSpeed 3. Cooper won both TC races atSt. Petersburgand wins at Miller andCanadianTireMotorsportsParkhave propelled him to lead the TC field.
Veteran sports car driver and former MX-5 Cup and Spec Miata Champion Todd Lamb leads the charge for the Compass360 Team. Lamb and teammates Shea Holbrook and Ryan Winchester look to help Honda reclaim the TC Manufacturers’ Championship as well as the Team Championship for Compass360.
Tristen Herbert, the 2011 TC Rookie of the Year, is piloting one of two 2012 HPA/RennGruppe Volkswagen Jetta GLIs with his sites set on the top drivers’ prize and getting VW to the top of the manufacturers’ standings.
World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec (white windshield banners)
The newest class of racing in the Pirelli World Challenge is Touring Car B-Spec featuring platforms like the Kia Rio, Mazda2, Honda Fit, Mini Cooper, Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, and the Fiat 500. In 2012, Drivers will compete in nine Touring Car B-Spec races in 2012, three each atMillerMotorsportsPark,CanadianTireMotorsportParkand Sonoma Raceway.
Modifications are limited in this class to manufacturer specified performance spring and shocks to keep overall cost down. The class is designed to give up-and-coming drivers the opportunity to run in a professional racing series.
Leading B-Spec points coming intoSonomais Jonathan Start, in the No. 00 Fiat 500. Meanwhile, Andre Rapone is coming off a three-race sweep at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in a Honda Fit, and sits third in points, while Craig Capaldi sits second in points in the No. 86 Ford Fiesta.
Follow the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge Championships all season long at world-challenge.com. Watch the World Challenge races from Sonoma on NBC Sports Network, Sept. 9, at 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m. and catch live streaming of all Pirelli World Challenge races, including the races fromSonoma, at world-challengetv.com.