SALINAS, Calif. – Pole winner Patrick Gallagher of Thornville, Ohio dominated the 20-lap, 40-minute Touring Car Round 11 Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca when he drove his No. 54 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda MX-5 to victory in the Pirelli World Challenge Championships presented by Nissan. Eric Powell of Orlando, Fla., won the TCA division in the No. 23 Tech Sport Racing Mazda MX-5 with 16-year-old Henry Morse of Redondo Beach, Calif., capturing the TCB class event in the No. 14 MorseGPS/Hale Motorsports Mazda 2
It was a clean sweep in the TC categories for Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday.
Gallagher, 22, grabbed the lead on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn permanent road course and never looked back in scoring his first Touring Car class win of 2016 over Adam Poland of Ft. Worth, Tex., in the No. 33 Doghouse Performance Mazda MX-5. Gallagher, the double pole winner at Utah in August, had to survive two full-course yellow flag sessions with the TC field bunching up behind him. However, on the final restart on lap 15, Patrick jumped out to a second advantage and won the contest over Poland and current TC point leader Toby Grahovec of Little Elm, Tex., in the No. 26 Classic BMW Motorsports BMW M235iR. Grahovec could clinch his first professional racing championship in Sunday’s TC feature set for 8:45 am PDT Sunday.
At the checkered flag, Gallagher won by 1.352 second over Poland and Grahovec.
Rounding out the top-five in the Touring Car division were Nick Wittmer of Montreal, Que., Canada in the No. 91 Honda Ste-Rose Racing Honda Accord V-6 Coupe and John Weisberg of Webster, N.Y., in the No. 5 BERG Racing Mazda MX-5.
“I built a gap on the field, then someone would crash and bringing the yellow flag,” said Gallagher. “And then it happened again later in the race. It doesn’t get better for me than to win in an Mazda MX-5 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. We came into the weekend looking to be strong. The Atlanta Motorsport Group puts together a strong car and I felt good coming here this weekend. The car was just outstanding from the first practice to the race. And that makes my job really easy then. I’m hopefully we can repeat it again on Sunday.”
In the TCA class, Powell came from his fourth starting to position to take the lead on lap 3 from current point leader Elivan Goulart of Shelton, Conn., in the No. 70 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX-5. By lap 8, Powell held a .473-second lead over Goulart with Joey Bickers of Moorpark, Calif., in the No. 49 Atlanta Motorsport Group Mazda MX-5 Cup in third. Despite several yellow flag periods, Powell was able open his margin over Goulart by over a second at the finish with Bickers rounding out the podium.
It was Powell’s first Pirelli World Challenge victory of his career. Goulart holds the point lead entering Sunday’s TC event and can clinch the TCA title.
“It was a great race for me,” said Powell. “The Tech Sport Racing crew gave me a superb car today and it’s so much fun to win at Mazda Raceway. The Mazda MX-5 was so good at the beginning of the race. I moved up to third early and then had the chance to get by first and second place on the front straightaway. Then I outbroke them into turn two. Unfortunately, the weights in the car actually can loose and started bouncing around inside. And I could feel it shifting around. So I started to fade a little bit in the end but we were able to hang on for the win.”
In the wild TCB contest, teenager Morse, the pole winner, had to fight his way back to the lead after the Chevrolet Sonics of P.J. Groenke of Richmond Hill, Ont., Canada, and Michael Johnson of Austin, Tex., vaulted to the early lead. Will Rodgers of Murrieta, Calif., posed the next threat for the lead and went door-to-door with Morse as they challenged a contingent of drivers through the field.
On numerous occasions, Morse and Rodgers raced wheel-to-wheel around the famed MRLS circuit before the 16-year-old Morse pulled out the victory by less than a half second in the 40-minute sprint event. Third at the checkered flag was Tom O’Gorman of Mason, Ohio, in the No. 94 Black Armor Helmets Honda Fit.
“I got a solid start but I could see the Chevys were coming fast and made the pass for the lead,” said Morse. “It took me awhile to get the lead back because I had to play defense as well with the our drivers. Will and I fought back to get to the front and it was a really challenging race. Just flat out the entire time. But it’s fun fantastic to win again after our first win at CTMP (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park).
Round 11 TC/TCA/TCB additional rewards and recognitions were determined as follows:
The Optima Batteries Best Start award was given to TCB No. 24 Michael Johnson in the Tech Sport Racing Chevrolet Sonic for his 9-position gain at the start of the race.
The KIA Turning Point was determined to be the crash in T4 by TCA No. 21 Perry Richardson in the Tech Sport Racing Mazda MX5.
The Cadillac Best Move award was given to TCB race-winner Morse.
The VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger award was given to TCA No. 49 Joey Bickers for his 16-position gain throughout the race to capture the third place on the podium.
Fast laps of the race (used to determine pole sitters for the next round of competition) went to:
TC No. 54 Gallagher with a 1:36.217 lap, provisionally establishing a new lap record for the class.
TCA No. 49 Bickers with a 1:44.824 lap.
TCB No. 68 Ted Hough in the Breathless Racing Mazda Mazda2 with a 1:53.521.
TC classes take to the track for the last time this season on Sunday at 8:45 a.m. PDT. Follow live timing and scoring at http://LiveTiming.net/pwc/ while streaming video of the race can be viewed at http;//MotorTrendOnDemand.com
Monterey, CA – Results from Saturday, Oct 8, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship TC-TCA-TCB Round 11 Race Round 11, part of the Grand Prix Presented by NISSAN at MRLS. Results are provisional until posted Final.
Pos. PIC, Class, Name, Hometown, Car, Laps, Status
1. 1, TC, Patrick Gallagher, Thornville OH, Mazda MX-5, 20, Running
2. 2, TC, Adam Poland, Ft. Worth TX, Mazda MX-5, 20, Running
3. 3, TC, Toby Grahovec, Little Elm TX, BMW M235iR, 20, Running
4. 4, TC, Nick Wittmer, Montreal QC, Honda Accord V-6 Coupe, 20, Running
5. 5, TC, John A. Weisberg, Webster NY, Mazda MX-5, 20, Running
6. 6, TC, Andrew Rains, Birmingham AL, Honda Accord V-6 Coupe, 20, Running
7. 7, TC, Kevin Krauss, Fishers IN, Porsche Cayman, 20, Running
8. 8, TC, Shea Holbrook, Orlando FL, Honda Accord V-6 Coupe, 20, Running
9. 9, TC, Max Fedler, Denver CO, BMW M235i, 20, Running
10. 10, TC, Randy Hale, Haddam CT, Mazda MX-5, 20, Running
11. 11, TC, Henry Schmitt/Henry Schmitt, San Francisco CA, BMW M235iR, 20, Running
12. 12, TC, Jason Fichter, Jupiter FL, Honda Accord V-6 Coupe, 20, Running
13. 13, TC, Paul Street, Anniston AL, Honda Accord V-6 Coupe, 20, Running
14. 14, TC, Anthony Geraci, Glen Head NY, Mazda MX-5, 20, Running
15. 15, TC, Steve Burns, San Antonio TX, Ford Mustang, 20, Running
16. 16, TC, Gino Carini, Milwaukee WI, BMW M235iR, 20, Running
17. 1, TCA, Eric Powell, Orlando FL, Mazda MX-5 Cup, 20, Running
18. 2, TCA, Elivan Goulart, Shelton CT, Mazda MX-5 Cup, 20, Running
19. 3, TCA, Joey Bickers, Moorpark CA, Mazda MX-5 Cup, 20, Running
20. 4, TCA, Forrest Landy, Great Falls VA, Mazda MX-5 Cup, 20, Running
21. 5, TCA, Matthew Fassnacht, Madison NJ, Mazda MX-5 Cup, 20, Running
22. 6, TCA, Mason Filippi, Alamo CA, Mazda MX-5, 20, Running
23. 7, TCA, Daniel Williams, Scottsbluff NE, Mazda MX-5 Cup, 20, Running
24. 8, TCA, Paul Whiting, Las Vegas NV, Honda Civic SI, 20, Running
25. 9, TCA, Warren Dexter, Huntington NY, Mazda MX-5 Cup, 20, Running
26. 10, TCA, Jay Salinsky, Miami FL, Mazda MX-5 Cup, 20, Running
27. 17, TC, Dinah Weisberg, Webster NY, Mazda MX-5, 20, Running
28. 11, TCA, Samantha Tan, Gormley ON, Honda Civic SI, 20, Running
29. 12, TCA, Daryl Harr/Daryl Harr, Edmonton AB, Toyota FR-S, 20, Running
30. 18, TC, Daniel Moen, Rindge NH, Mazda MX-5, 19, Running
31. 1, TCB, Henry Morse, Redondo Beach CA, Mazda 2, 19, Running
32. 2, TCB, Will Rodgers, Murrieta CA, Mazda 2, 19, Running
33. 19, TC, Brian Lift, Crestwood IL, Porsche Cayman, 18, Not Running
34. 3, TCB, Tom O’Gorman, Mason OH, Honda Fit, 18, Running
35. 4, TCB, Ted Hough, Farmington MN, Mazda 2, 18, Running
36. 5, TCB, P.J. Groenke, Richmond Hill ON, Chevrolet Sonic, 18, Running
37. 6, TCB, James Wilson, Kyle TX, Mazda 2, 18, Running
38. 7, TCB, Michael Johnson, Austin TX, Chevrolet Sonic, 18, Running
39. 8, TCB, Nic Lougee/Nic Lougee, Minneapolis MN, MINI Cooper, 18, Running
40. 9, TCB, Jasper Drengler, Shawano WI, Honda Fit, 17, Running
41. 13, TCA, Perry Richardson, Los Gatos CA, Mazda MX-5 Cup, 10, Not Running
42. 20, TC, Tony Rivera, Vista CA, Nissan 370Z, 10, Not Running
43. 43, TC, Aristotle Balogh/Aristotle Balogh, Menlo Park CA, BMW M235iR, 1, DNF
44. 44, TCB , Patrick Wilmot, Roswell GA, MINI Cooper, 0, DNF