ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Ernie Francis Jr., of Davie Fla., piloting the No. 98 Breathless Racing/Time4Learning Mazda MX-5, claimed his second win of the Pirelli World Challenge TC season in Round 9 at the DeVILBISS Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac. Tony Rivera, of Vista, Calif., scored his third straight victory of the weekend, and fifth of the season at the challenging 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course. Glenn Nixon, of Mission, B.C , in the No. 58 LaptopScreen.com/ClubRacing.com/Nixon Prosports/HPD Honda Fit also scored his third straight victory to go along with one previous victory in 2015.
From the standing start, pole-sitter Vesko Kozarov, of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the No. 3 Skullcandy Nissan Altima launched cleanly into the lead. Behind him, Randy Hale, who had qualified 10th, bogged momentarily off the start, bringing out a full-course caution. Kozarov, who had won Saturday’s Round 7 TC race, led the field around for the lap 2 restart, ahead of Sunday morning’s Round 8 TC winner Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., in the No. 15 HPA Motorsports
VW Jetta GL1, and Corey Fergus, of Columbus, Ohio in the No. 00 USLED/Axis Roofing/AERO/RSS/Motul Porsche Cayman.
In TCA, class pole-sitter Rivera, led over Kevin Anderson, of Huntington Station, N.Y. in the No. 23 TechSportRacing.com Mazda RX-8 and Toby Grahovec, of Little Elm, in the No. 24 Texas Classic BMW Motorsports BMW Z4. In TCB, Andrei Kisel, of North Vancouver, B.C. in the No. 57 Racing.ca/LaptopScreen.com MINI Cooper led his teammate Nixon, and class pole-sitter Travis W. Washay, of Milford, Conn., in the No. 30 Indian Summer Racing MINI Cooper.
On lap 2, Francis Jr. passed Fergus for third. On lap 4, Altenburg and Kozarov drag raced down the front straight with Altenburg passing for the lead through turn 1. Kozarov’s No. 3 Altima then experienced a mechanical problem and slowed on course allowing Francis Jr. and Fergus to move ahead.
In TCB, Nixon passed Kisel through turn 5 on lap 4 for the lead in TCB. In TCA, Rivera continued to lead, with Grahovec passing Anderson for second. Anderson’s RX-8 would slow on course and he would retire from the race on lap 7 moving Patrick Seguin, of Ottawa, Ontario, in the No. 49 helpkevinproject.com/buynutrimind.com Honda Civic Si into third.
On Lap 8, Francis Jr. earned the Cadillac Move of the Race award for his pass on Altenburg for the lead in turn 12. Shortly after the pass, both Altenburg’s VW Jetta GLI and Fergus’ Porsche Cayman slowed on course with mechanical issues and both came into the pit – Fergus’ team changed a tire and Altenburg’s team inspected the front left wheel, also changing a tire in the process. Adam Poland, of Mount Vernon, Texas in the No. 33 Edge Addicts/Majestic Pet Mazda MX-5 moved into second.
Francis Jr., Rivera and Nixon would all maintain their leads for the balance of the race. In TC, Poland and Ricca finished second and third, while Grahovec and Seguin finished second and third in TCA. Kisel and Washay finished second and third in TCB.
“The second race today was definitely a lot closer than the other two races this weekend,” said Nixon. “I had to work a lot harder as other guys got together and were in the draft. Overall, it was a good weekend for the team. Thanks to Andrei Kisel for owning the team and putting us all here. Thanks to LaptopScreens.com, Club Racing, Nixon Prosports.ca. I think the other guys were learning how to draft better and stayed right with us. In the first session, we were drafting from the start. So myself, Andrei and Nick (Duynstee) were running together and I think the others finally figured it out too. They got just got used to it too. Nick had a tough first race this morning but finished fifth in this afternoon. He has limited racing experience. So he learned this weekend.”
“In the afternoon race, second and third place started fighting for position and I was able to run clean laps,” said Rivera. “I was able to gain more each lap. I was able to focus out the windshield and not worry about them. And had fun at this great facility. We have a real reliable little Scion that is fun to drive. It’s fun whether you are by yourself or in a pack. It reminds us why we do this. Believe it or not, this is probably the best track for this car. Even though it is the slowest one in the straightaway. The big misconception here that this is a big horsepower track. And a low-horsepower car can make up a lot at this track just because the entry to all of the straightaways is so great, speedwise. If you have a car that is dialed in handling wise, you can make up for quite a bit. There aren’t really any ‘point and shoot sections’ in this track.
“This weekend started pretty good as we were quick out there,” said Francis Jr. “In the first race, I got the lead and a couple of laps in, the motor just quit on us. So the crew worked hard all day and night and got the motor changed. But the power steering line got a puncture when the motor blew and parts went all over the place. So we had to run with no power steering in the second race which then ended up frying the power steering pump. And that blew the belt on the car. So we had to come into the pits and we didn’t finish that one either. In the third race, we got a new pump and everything seemed pretty good. We just wanted to go out and finish the race. We started seventh and worked our way through the traffic. Then we got to first and never looked back. The crew did an amazing job. I really can’t thank them enough. We were all pretty down after the second race troubles. So we sat down and talked about what we wanted to do for the third race. And we went out and did it.”
Of note, Fred Emich, in the No. 87 Emich Volkswagen/Volkswagen Jetta GLI won the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award gaining six positions when the lights went out. He was also awarded the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining nine positions during the race. Nixon won the StopTech Brake Late Finish First Award. The Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award went to Tom Noble, of Medina, Minn. in the No. 48 BIR Performance Driving School/West Real Estate Shea Racing MINI Cooper for his lap 13 turn 1 pass of Jason Fichter, of Jupiter, Fla. in the No. 7 Turn 7 Motorsports/Donate Life Breathless Racing MINI Cooper.
Results are provisional until posted final.
TC, TCA and TCB teams now head to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course August 13-15 for Rounds 10, 11 and 12. Watch Rounds 7, 8 and 9 from Road America on CBS Sports Network, Wednesday, July 8, 7 p.m. Eastern.
ELKHART LAKE, WI – Results from Sunday’s 16 lap 64.768 mile Pirelli World Challenge Championship TC/TCA/TCB Round 9 race, part of the DeVILBISS Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. TC, (7), Ernie Francis_Jr, Dania, Fla., MAZDA MX-5, 16.
2. TC, (6), Adam Poland, Mt. Vernon, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 16, -5.744.
3. TC, (4), Jeff Ricca, Milford, Conn., Hyundai GenesisCoupe20T, 16, -13.488.
4. TC, (14), Fred Emich, Denver, Colo., Volkswagen Jetta GLi, 16, -15.409.
5. TC, (10), Randy Hale, Haddam, Conn., Mazda MX-5, 16, -57.435.
6. TC, (16), Mikey Taylor(R), Birmingham, Ala., Volkswagon Jetta GLI, 16, -1:00.141.
7. TC, (11), Steve Burns(R), San Antonio, Texas, Ford Mustang V6, 16, -1:21.007.
8. TC, (12), Kevin Krauss, Fishers, Ind., Porsche Cayman, 16, -1:21.249.
9. TC, (17), Andrew Rains(R), Auburn, Ala., Volkswagon Golf, 16, -1:37.910.
10. TC, (9), Paul Street(R), Anniston, Ala., Honda Accord, 16, -1:47.098.
11. TC, (5), Corey Fergus(R), Columbus, Ohio, Porsche Cayman, 15, -1 lap.
12. TC, (2), Jeff Altenburg, Ellicott City, Md., Volkswagon Jetta GLI, 14, -2 lap.
13. TC, (1), Vesko Kozarov, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nissan Altima, 4, -12 laps.
14. TC, (8), John Weisberg, Webster, N.Y., Porsche Cayman, 3, -13 laps.
15. TC, (3), Alex Welch, Englewood, Colo., Volkswagon Jetta GLI, 0, -16 laps.
16. TC, (13), Dinah Weisberg(R), Webster, N.Y., Mazda MX-5, 0, -16 laps.
17. TC, (15), Austin Snader, Sealy, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 0, -16 laps.
18. TCA, (18), Tony Rivera, Vista, Calif., Scion FRS Coupe, 16.
19. TCA, (21), Toby Grahovec, Little Elm, Texas, BMW Z4, 16, -32.655.
20. TCA, (22), Patrick Seguin, Ottawa, Ontario, Honda Civic Si, 16, -39.735.
21. TCA, (23), Emilee Tominovich(R), Clarksville, Md., Honda Civic Si, 15, -54.059.
22. TCA, (20), Jason Wolfe, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Kia Forte Koup, 15, -54.165.
23. TCA, (27), Gino Carini, Fox Point, Wis., Mazda RX-8, 15, -56.664.
24. TCA, (25), Ron Yarab, Youngstown, Ohio, Honda Civic Si, 15, -1:26.995.
25. TCA, (28), Kris Wright(R), Pittsburgh, Pa., Kia Forte Koup, 15, -1 lap.
26. TCA, (24), Samantha Tan(R), Gormley, Ontario, Kia Forte Koup, 15, -1 lap.
27. TCA, (19), Kevin Anderson, Huntington Station, N.Y., Mazda RX8, 7, -9 lap.
28. TCA, (26), Chase Pelletier, Brampton, Ohio, Honda Civic Si, 0, -16 laps.
29. TCB, (32), Glenn Nixon, Mission, British Columbia, Honda Fit, 14.
30. TCB, (31), Andrei Kisel, N. Vancouver, British Columbia, MINI Cooper, 14, -.142.
31. TCB, (29), Travis_W Washay(R), Milford, Conn., MINI Cooper, 14, -.321.
32. TCB, (30), Randy Smith, Coldwater, Ontario, Honda Fit, 14, -7.234.
33. TCB, (35), Nic Duynstee, Vancouver, British Columbia, MINI Cooper, 14, -21.888.
34. TCB, (36), James Wilson, Kyle, Texas, Mazda 2, 14, -22.193.
35. TCB, (34), Van Svenson(R), Hyde Park, N.Y., Chevrolet Sonic, 14, -36.517.
36. TCB, (38), Tom Noble, Medina, Minn., MINI Cooper, 14, -39.941.
37. TCB, (37), Jason Fichter, Jupiter, Fla., MINI Cooper, 14, -39.984.
38. TCB, (40), Marc Sherrin(R), Lucas, Texas, Ford Fiesta, 13, -2:51.349.
39. TCB, (33), Johan Schwartz, Huntersville, S.C., Chevy Sonic, 13, -1 lap.
40. TCB, (39), PJ Groenke, Toronto, Canada, MINI Cooper, 7, -7 lap.
41. TCB, (41), Steve Kohli, Iowa City, Iowa, Honda Fit, 2, -12 laps.
Time of race: 42 minutes, 08.585 seconds.
Average speed: 92.211 mph
Margin of victory: 5.744 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-4, #3 Vesko Kozarov; laps 5-8, #15 Jeff Altenburg;
laps 9-16, #98 Ernie Francis_Jr
Fastest race lap: #98 Ernie Francis_Jr, 2:28.859 (97.896 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #3 Vesko Kozarov, 2:28.582 (98.079 mph)