SALINAS, Calif. – Ernie Francis, Jr., of Davie, Fla., took the Round 18 TC victory at the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca presented by Cadillac, while Corey Fergus, of Columbus, Ohio, finished second to secure the TC Drivers’ Championship title. In TCA, Jason Wolfe of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, took the victory to take the TCA Drivers’ Championship, while Joey Jordan of Fallbrook, Calif., swept the weekend in TCB with his third straight win. Johan Schwartz, of Huntersville, S.C., scored the 2015 TCB Drivers’ Championship.
As the lights went out for the standing start it was Fergus, in the No. 00 USLED/Axis Roofing/AERO/RSS/Motul Motorsports Promotions Porsche Cayman leading from pole position, holding off a charging championship rival in Francis, Jr, in the No. 98 Breathless Racing/Time4Learning Mazda MX-5.
Adam Poland, of Mt. Vernon, Texas, in the No. 33 Edge Addicts/Majestic Pet EASTEX Motorsports Mazda MX-5 followed through in third, just ahead of Vesko Kozarov, of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the No. 3 Nissan/Skullcandy/Stance Skullcandy Team Nissan Nissan Altima. Kozorov then moved his Nissan around Poland to take third on the opening lap.
In TCA, it was Paul Holton of Tallahassee, Fla., in the No. 78 Compass360 Racing Children’s Tumor Foundation/HPD Honda Civic Si that led early, as a race-long battle began with Holton’s Honda and Tony Rivera, of Vista, Calif., in the No. 86 Brass Monkey Racing Tiburon Motorsports Scion FR-S.
In the TCB category, Glenn Nixon of Mission, B.C., in the No. 58 LaptopScreen.com/ClubRacing.com/Nixon Prosports/HPD Racing.ca Honda Fit was in the lead early over Tom O’Gorman of Mason, Ohio, in the 94 Black Armor Helmets Full Throttle Indoor Karting Honda Fit. O’Gorman would earn the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start award for advancing six positions on the opening lap.
Jordan, in the No. 47 Protomotive Mazda 2, was third in the opening laps, in his bid for his fourth straight Pirelli World Challenge TCB victory having won Round 15 at Miller Motorsports Park, and Rounds 16 and 17 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from Friday and Saturday. On lap two, Nixon had his hands full with O’Gorman, who was challenging for the class lead and he eventually got by.
On lap six, the race lead saw its only change in TC as Francis, Jr. got around Fergus and pulled a gap to eventually take his 14th victory in the series. In TCA, Holton continued to hold off Rivera with Patrick Seguin of Ottawa, Ont., in the No. 39 helpkevinproject.com Team Ost Racing Honda Civic Si running third.
On lap seven, Fergus would surrender another spot as Kozarov got around him for second place, while Jordan was hassling O’Gorman for the TCB lead, having gotten around of Nixon. A move would follow in the famous corkscrew turn, with Jordan taking the point over in TCB to sweep the weekend with three wins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and four in a row. The pass for the lead earned Jordan the Invisible Glass Clean Pass Award. Jordan also received StopTech’s Brake Late, Finish First Award.
At the halfway mark of the event, Francis, Jr. had opened up a 4.1 second lead over the Nissan of Kozarov, while Poland ran third ahead of Fergus, and Austin Snader of Sealy, Texas. Poland’s move on Fergus for third place would earn him the Cadillac ATS-V Move of the Race Award.
That halfway mark also saw Wolfe officially clinch the TCA Championship based on points earned for completing half distance.
By lap 16, Poland had begun to turn up the heat on Kozarov for second place, as Francis, Jr.’s lead was now beyond nine seconds. In TCB, Jordan continued to hold the lead over O’Gorman and Nixon.
One lap later, Poland made a move on Kozarov for second place, with the two cars touching. Kozarov went off, rejoining the track in sixth but retiring with damage, while Poland was second temporarily as car damage hampered the pace of his Mazda.
The incident promoted Fergus to second, where he stayed to take the checkered flag, while Snader followed through the complete the podium in his No. 64 Snader Racing SR Enterprises Mazda MX-5.
In TCB, Nic Duynstee of Vancouver, B.C., in the No. 59 Racing.ca Nixon Prosports/LaptopScreen.com/Miniusa.com Mini Cooper found his way to third place, passing Nixon’s Honda Fit.
Lap 20 saw the attention turn to the still-raging battle for the TCA lead. As Holton did everything he could to hold off Rivera, it was Wolfe in third that was slowly closing.
On lap 22, Holton and Rivera would make contact while fighting for the lead. With both cars off course, Wolfe would go through to take the lead and race victory, as well as his second straight Championship in TCA as the race ended under a full-course caution. Wolfe would be joined on the TCA podium by Kevin Anderson of Huntington Station, N.Y. in the No. 22 Tech Sport Racing Mazda RX-8 and Andrew Rains, of Auburn, Ala., in the No. 67 Shea Racing Lucas Oil/BUBBA Burger/Hendrick Honda Fit. Anderson’s run to second would see him take home the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger honors for gaining 11 positions on the day.
TC would see Francis, Jr., Fergus and Snader on the podium and TCB would hold steady with Jordan taking the win ahead of O’Gorman and Duynstee.
Johan Schwartz, of Huntersville, N.C., in the No. 25 Tech Sport Racing/CASgroup/Serengeti/ZERO Cancer Tech Sport Racing Chevy Sonic, stayed out of the battle in TCB to solidify his class Championship.
“It was good to win today but I just needed a little bit more to get the championship,” said Francis Jr. “We needed for Corey to finish back in the field more for the title. But today was great to win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a Mazda. Once I got the lead, I wanted to be consistent and fast. I wasn’t sure what was happening behind me. Then my crew said that Adam (Poland) and Vesko (Kozarov) got together and that gave me a big gap. It’s always fun to win and especially at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.”
“We were just trying to keep our nose clean and collect the points today,” said Wolfe. “But then the two lead cars (Holton and Rivera) ended up taking each other out. It’s unfortunate for them but it worked out well for us. I hate to see it end like that but we’ll take it. It has been a good year with the Kia Forte Koup and it’s exciting to win another championship.”
“It’s great to sweep the weekend for Mazda at Mazda Raceway,” said Jordan. “It was more difficult today. They (officials) keep adding weight to my car but I was still able to pull off the win. I couldn’t ask for a better weekend for my team. The Mazda ran fantastic all weekend.”
“My championship run was all about consistency,” said Fergus. “We didn’t have too many wins this year, just three out of 18 races. We finished in the top five when we could this year. It proves that consistency wins championships. I have to hand it to our team guys this weekend. They worked 16 hours straight after Friday’s turn two incident (in Round 16). We had about two hours of sleep. And that’s what got us the win on Saturday (Round 17). It’s a special win for the championship. My dad, John, has won so many championships as a driver but this is his first one as a team owner. And with me as his driver is very special. It’s a double championship for us and it’s my mom’s birthday today too. It’s just an amazing weekend for our family.”
“We had a great year with nine wins and the championship,” said Schwartz. “John Heinricy and the Chevrolet folks have put together a great car and it’s been tremendous to work with them. This is the first TCB championship for an American manufacturer. We never gave up despite some of the weight adjustments throughout the season. It was about consistency through the year. It was very successful promoting ZERO Cancer this year and prostate cancer awareness. Having come here as a youngster to go to college, pro racing was just a thought. It took some years but we finally got here. And winning a championship is pretty amazing.”
Results are provisional until posted final. The Pirelli World Challenge paddock now gathers for the 2015 Championship Awards Celebration tonight in Monterey, California. Of note, Mazda wins the 2015 TC Manufacturers’ Championship, while Honda secures the 2015 TCA Manufacturers’ Championship. Watch TC, TCA and TCB Round 18 on CBS Sports Network Wednesday, September 23, at 10 p.m. Eastern.
SALINAS, Calif., – Results from Sunday’s 24-lap 53.712 mile Pirelli World Challenge Championship TC/TCA/TCB Round 18 race, part of the Monterey Grand Prix presented by Cadillac at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. TC, (1), Ernie Francis_Jr, Davie, Fla., MAZDA MX-5, 24.
2. TC, (2), Corey Fergus(R), Columbus, Ohio, Porsche Cayman, 24, -3.960.
3. TC, (9), Austin Snader, Sealy, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 24, -7.614.
4. TC, (6), Alex Welch, Englewood, Colo., Volkswagen Jetta GLI, 24, -11.575.
5. TC, (5), Kevin Krauss, Fishers, Ind., Porsche Cayman, 24, -18.270.
6. TC, (4), Adam Poland, Mt. Vernon, Texas, Mazda MX-5, 24, -19.243.
7. TC, (8), Nicolas Hammann, Elkhart Lake, Wis., Nissan 370Z, 24, -21.118.
8. TC, (13), John Weisberg, Webster, N.Y., Mazda MX-5, 24, -24.462.
9. TC, (12), Steve Burns(R), San Antonio, Texas, Ford Mustang V6, 24, -25.481.
10. TC, (11), Paul Street(R), Anniston, Ala., Honda Accord, 24, -27.110.
11. TC, (3), Vesko Kozarov, Salt Lake, Utah, Nissan Altima, 17, -7 lap.
12. TC, (10), Randy Hale, Haddam, Conn., Mazda MX-5, 3, -21 laps.
13. TC, (7), Fred Emich, Denver, Colo., Volkswagen Jetta GLi, 0, -24 laps.
14. TCA, (17), Jason Wolfe, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Kia Forte Koup, 24.
15. TCA, (23), Kevin Anderson, Huntington Station, N.Y., Mazda RX8, 23, -1:16.244.
16. TCA, (24), Andrew Rains(R), Auburn, Ala., Honda Civic Si, 23, -1:17.976.
17. TCA, (21), Emilee Tominovich(R), Clarksville, Md., Honda Civic Si, 23, -1:19.515.
18. TCA, (22), Samantha Tan(R), Gormley, Ontario, Kia Forte Koup, 23, -1:20.056.
19. TCA, (19), Steve Bottom, Newport Beach, Calif., Mazda MX-5, 23, -1:20.936.
20. TCA, (16), Patrick Seguin, Ottawa, Ontario, Honda Civic Si, 22, -2 lap.
21. TCA, (15), Paul Holton, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda Civic Si, 21, -3 lap.
22. TCA, (14), Tony Rivera, Vista, Calif., Scion FRS Coupe, 21, -3 lap.
23. TCA, (18), Paul Whiting, Pahrump, Nev., Honda Civic Si, 18, -6 lap.
24. TCA, (20), Kris Wright(R), Pittsburgh, Pa., Kia Forte Koup, 18, -6 lap.
25. TCA, (25), Gino Carini, Fox Point, Wis., Mazda RX8, 8, -16 laps.
26. TCA, (26), Brian Lift(R), Crestwood, Ill., Mazda RX-8, 0, -24 laps.
27. TCB, (28), Joey Jordan, Fallbrook, Calif., Mazda 2, 21.
28. TCB, (32), Tom O’Gorman(R), Mason, Ohio, Honda Fit, 21, -.871.
29. TCB, (31), Nic Duynstee, Vancouver, British Columbia, MINI Cooper, 21, -3.551.
30. TCB, (27), Glenn Nixon, Mission, British Columbia, Honda Fit, 21, -3.799.
31. TCB, (30), Andrei Kisel, N. Vancouver, British Columbia, MINI Cooper, 21, -4.743.
32. TCB, (34), Jason Fichter, Jupiter, Fla., MINI Cooper, 21, -5.140.
33. TCB, (36), Jay Salinsky, New Port Richey, Fla., Honda Fit, 21, -7.394.
34. TCB, (35), Van Svenson(R), Hyde Park, N.Y., Chevrolet Sonic, 21, -8.683.
35. TCB, (33), James Wilson, Kyle, Texas, Mazda 2, 21, -13.668.
36. TCB, (40), PJ Groenke, Toronto, Canada, MINI Cooper, 21, -15.103.
37. TCB, (37), Matt Travis, The Woodlands, Texas, Ford Fiesta, 21, -15.891.
38. TCB, (38), Tom Noble, Medina, Minn., MINI Cooper, 21, -18.550.
39. TCB, (29), Johan Schwartz, Huntersville, S.C., Chevy Sonic, 21, -54.426.
40. TCB, (41), Steve Taake, Houston, Texas, Mazda 2, 21, -1:12.457.
41. TCB, (42), Marc Sherrin(R), Lucas, Texas, Ford Fiesta, 19, -2 lap.
42. TCB, (39), Cameron Parsons, Fountain Valley, Calif., Mazda 2, 16, -5 lap.
Time of race: 41 minutes, 13.414 seconds.
Average speed: 78.176 mph
Margin of victory: 3.960 Seconds