Audi driver extends his TC point lead with victory Saturday

SALINAS, Calif. – Paul Holton of Orlando, Fla., drove his No. 71 C360R Audi RS3 LMS sedan to a wire-to-wire victory Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Touring Car Round 11 40-minute race as part of the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Monterey.

The 21-year-old racer Holton scored his third win of the 2017 campaign and extended his point lead to 14 with the series finale set for Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. PDT.

In the TCA division, Eric Powell also of Orlando, Fla., drove his No. 23 TechSport Racing Scion FR-S to the win, while Canadian P.J. Groenke of Richmond Hill, Ont., captured the TCB category Saturday in the No. 24 TechSport Racing Chevrolet Sonic.

Holton jumped to the lead immediately at the drop of the green flag Saturday morning from his pole position and never really looked back. He led by nearly seven seconds at lap 19 in the 25-lap feature.

Taking second and third Saturday were four-time 2017 race winner Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco, Calif., in the No. 20 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR and five-time TC series champion Pierre Kleinubing of Coconut Creek, Fla., in the No. 26 Classic BMW M235iR. Kleinubing made his first 2017 start Saturday and 143rd start of his PWC career.

Mark Drennan of San Jose, Calif., in the No. 54 Hooverspeed Mazda MX-5 and Nick Wittmer of Montreal, Que., Can., in the No. 91 ST Racing BMW M235iR crossed the finish line in second and third place Saturday in the TC event. However, both drivers were disqualified for a technical infraction following the 40-minute race.

Recording the fourth and fifth place finishes were Tony Rivera of Oceanside, Calif., in the No. 34 Brass Monkey Racing Nissan 370Z and reigning TC champion Toby Grahovec of Celina, Tex., in the No. 1 Classic BMW BMW M235iR.

“I lucked out on the start and the guys behind me looked like they were side-by-side for the first three or four corners and I got a big gap there,” said Holton “I hate to use the term ‘the car was on rails’ so I won’t, but the car was absolutely amazing. I was starting to burn off the front tires a little towards the end. You know that the Mazdas at MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca are going to be really strong since it is their track after all. I can’t thank Pfaff Automotive enough for this because we wouldn’t be here if not for getting us into the car and bringing it to us, and everyone else. It will be fantastic to be able to bring home a championship.”

Powell posted an 8.516-second win in TCA in the Saturday morning 40-minute event over three-time 2017 race winner Kenny Murillo of Santa Rosa, Calif., in the No. 33 Murillo Racing Mazda Global MX-5 Cup car and Tom O’Gorman of Mason, Ohio in the No. 94 Shea Racing Honda Civic Si.

“The others were definitely able to put some pressure on me so it was just about hitting my marks in the first stage of the race and not giving those guys the opportunity,” said Powell. “I had to be defensive. They kept me honest and I had to work for it, and that’s good. The real difference is that the TechSport car is so well-balanced and we take care of it so well. I’m not abusing any one corner on the car and the tires just stay ultra-consistent throughout the entire race distance where you can see the other guys just have tire degradation throughout the race.”

Placing fourth and fifth in Saturday’s TCA Round 11 was Jeff Sexton of Austin, Tex., in the No. 89 Winding Road Team Mazda Global MX-5 Cup car and current TCA point leader Matthew Fassnacht of Madison, N.J., in the No. 74 S.A.C. Racing Mazda Global MX-5 Cup car. Unofficially, Fassnacht leads the TCA points by 16 entering Saturday’s season finale (Round 12).

Groenke, the veteran racer, scored his second TCB win of the 2017 trail in a wild battle with Jake Pipal and pole winner Canaan O’Connell. The win for Groenke now has him tied with Pipal at 243 points for the TCB point lead entering the 2:15 p.m. PDT finale.

Second went to Pipal of Oakdale, Calif., in the No. 6 Jake Pipal Racing Honda Fit, who led a majority of the 24-lap race. Third was O’Connell in the No. 24 TechSport Racing Chevrolet Sonic.

“That was some of the most intense racing that I’ve ever experienced,” said Groenke. “I know it’s an intense battle for the championship and me, Jake (Pipal) and Canaan (O’Connell) are all gunning for it. Those guys took off a little bit and I sat back, watching what they were doing. It looked like they might hit each other at some point so I was just biding my time, waiting for the right time to make a move and just worked out perfectly. Round 12 is where we let it all hang out and put it all on the line.”

Round 12 races start with TCA/TCB at 2:15 p.m. PDT followed by TC at 4 p.m. PDT. Both races will be streamed live for free at World-Challenge.com and MotorTrendOnDemand.com.


SALINAS, Calif. – Round 11 results for Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car 40-minute race. Results are provisional until posted Final.

Pos,PIC,Class,Name,Hometown,Car,Laps,Status,Race Time,Gap
1,1, ,Paul HOLTON,Orlando, FL,Audi RS 3 LMS Club Sport,25,Running,40:34.446,
2,2, ,Greg LIEFOOGHE,San Francisco, CA,BMW M235iR,25,Running,41:05.058,30.611
3,3, ,Pierre KLEINUBING,Coconut Creek, FL,BMW M235iR,25,Running,41:05.268,30.821
4,4, ,Tony RIVERA,Oceanside, CA,Nissan 370Z,25,Running,41:09.070,34.623
5,5, ,Toby GRAHOVEC,Celina, TX,BMW M235iR,25,Running,41:12.496,38.049
6,6, ,Mason FILIPPI,Alamo, CA,BMW M235iR,25,Running,41:12.662,38.215
7,7, ,Aristotle BALOGH,Palo Alto, CA,BMW M235iR,25,Running,41:26.538,52.091
8,8, ,JT COUPAL,Rochester, NY,Audi RS 3 LMS Club Sport,25,Running,41:27.501,53.054
9,9, ,Jayson CLUNIE,Prince Albert, SK, CA,BMW M235iR,25,Running,41:42.929,1:08.482
10,10, ,Travis WASHAY,Milford, CT,Audi RS 3 LMS Club Sport,25,Running,41:43.221,1:08.775
11,11, ,Rodrigo SALES,Incline Village, NV,BMW M235iR,25,Running,41:46.073,1:11.626
12,12, ,John WEISBERG,Webster, NY,Mazda MX-5,25,Running,41:52.971,1:18.524
13,13, ,Henry SCHMITT,San Francisco, CA,BMW M235iR,25,Running,41:53.730,1:19.284
14,14, ,Chris OHMACHT,Franklin Lakes, NJ,BMW M235iR,25,Running,41:54.801,1:20.354
15,15, ,Samantha TAN,Gormley, Ontario, CA,BMW M235iR,25,Running,42:00.046,1:25.600
16,16, ,Daren JORGENSEN,Austin, TX,BMW M235iR,24,Running,41:22.116,1 LAP
17,17, ,Johan SCHWARTZ,Huntersville, NC,BMW M235iR,23,Not Running,38:20.213,2 LAPS
18,18, ,Scott THOMAS,Oklahoma City, OK,BMW M235iR,22,Not Running,38:18.139,3 LAPS
19,19, ,Anthony GERACI,Glen Cove, NY,Audi RS 3 LMS Club Sport,18,Not Running,30:11.588,7 LAPS
20,20, ,Joshua FORAN,Odenville, AL,Honda Accord,15,Not Running,25:42.718,10 LAPS
21,21, ,Karl WITTMER,Montreal, Quebec, CA,Honda Accord,14,Not Running,22:55.531,11 LAPS
22,22, ,Anthony MAGAGNOLI,Dexter, MI,BMW M235iR,6,Not Running,9:53.658,19 LAPS
23,23, ,Nicolai ELGHANAYAN,Laguna Beach, CA,Lotus Exige,2,Not Running,3:34.037,23 LAPS
24, 24, Mark DRENNAN, San Jose, Calif., Mazda MX-5, DIS
25,25, Nick, WITTMER, Montreal, Que., Canada, BMW M235iR, DIS

TCA/TCB

1,1, A,Eric POWELL,Orlando, FL,Scion FR-S,24,Running,41:12.279,
2,2, A,Kenny MURILLO,Santa Rosa, CA,Mazda Global MX-5 Cup Car,24,Running,41:20.795,8.516
3,3, A,Tom O’GORMAN,Mason, OH,Honda Civic Si,24,Running,41:31.312,19.032
4,4, A,Jeff SEXTON,Austin, TX,Mazda Global MX-5 Cup Car,24,Running,41:32.160,19.881
5,5, A,Matthew FASSNACHT,Madison, NJ,Mazda Global MX-5 Cup Car,24,Running,41:35.098,22.818
6,6, A,Shea HOLBROOK,Orlando, FL,Honda Civic Si,24,Running,41:46.910,34.631
7,7, A,Elivan GOULART,Shelton, CT,Mazda Global MX-5 Cup Car,24,Running,42:12.068,59.789
8,8, A,Cameron PARSONS,Santa Ana, CA,Mazda Global MX-5 Cup Car,24,Running,42:52.508,1:40.229
9,9, A,Daniel MOEN,Rindge, NH,Mazda MX-5,23,Running,41:55.323,1 LAP
10,1, B,P.J. GROENKE,Richmond Hill, Ontario, CA,Chevrolet Sonic,22,Running,41:23.850,2 LAPS
11,2, B,Jake PIPAL,Oakdale, CA,Honda Fit,22,Running,41:25.142,2 LAPS
12,3, B,Canaan O’CONNELL,Chandler, AZ,Chevrolet Sonic,22,Running,41:25.726,2 LAPS
13,4, B,Damon SURZYSHYN,Winnipeg, MB,Mazda 2,22,Running,42:23.765,2 LAPS
14,5, B,Jasper DRENGLER,Shawano, WI,Honda Fit,22,Running,42:42.937,2 LAPS
15,6, B,James WILSON,Kyle, TX,Mazda 2,22,Running,42:43.125,2 LAPS
16,7, B,Stephanie ANDERSEN,Racine, WI,Mazda 2,21,Running,42:29.587,3 LAPS
17,10, A,Kevin ANDERSON,Huntington Station, NY,Scion FR-S,3,Not Running,5:28.321,21 LAPS