Event Coverage: Pirelli World Challenge Race at Belle Isle

Two plus two equals FOUR WINS for GM in Detroit in Pirelli World Challenge Racing

By: Ashley van Dyke

The Pirelli World Challenge series rolled into the Motor City for Rounds 6 & 7 of GT and GTS class competition. The Chevrolet Grand Prix at Belle Isle was revived this year, after going four years since 2008 from seeing any racing action. The battle ground was an island in Detroit with 14 turns and covering 2.08 miles. For the Pirelli World Challenge Series, they were racing to win the Cadillac V-Series Challenge in a double header weekend. With unpredictable weather conditions and practice times looking very close amongst the top drivers in both classes, it was shaping up to be an exciting weekend to be in Detroit.

First practice on Friday morning was nothing but heavy rain. There was standing water in certain sections on the track. Everyone and everything was soaking wet. I think my socks were holding water for a solid nine hours straight. I tried to take my shoes off in the media center only to be told how unsanitary it was by a fellow member of the media. I told her I would get 409 to clean up. 😉

Robin Miller, Ashley van Dyke and Jim Campbell.

By the time it did clear up it was the end of the day. It was still a little wet in some spots, but finally after almost 12 hours of non-stop rain, it had come to a halt. The Pirelli World Challenge cars had a 6pm session and all the teams were looking forward to getting some dry laps in. This practice set the pace for the leaders and what we would see for the rest of the weekend. Johnny O'Connell in the Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R and Andy Lee in the Best IT/Bondurant Chevrolet Camaro were the class leaders.

Randy Pobst P1 on the grid for Round 6.

Driver Randy Pobst won the pole in the GT qualifying session with a lap of 1:25.776 (87.297 mph) in the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 for the start of Round 6. Transmission troubles caused Posbt's car to roll just about a foot from its mark on the start grid and then came to a stop. This resulted in a slew of cars getting involved in a pile up, putting out the first full course caution. The incident included the Swisher Racing Mitsubishi Evo driven by Bill Ziegler, the Ford Mustang Boss 302 of Roger Miller and the Nissan/SPL/Sparco/Motul Nissan 370Z with 2010 Touring Car champion Robert Stout behind the wheel. All were done and retired to the paddock for the day, receiving DNFs.  There was more drama to come again on lap 18, bringing out a second caution for an incident involving Richard Golinello in the Sanitation Ford Mustang Boss 302S, Michael Galati in the Kia Motors Optima and Alec Udell's MDG/Ford Racing/Kart Nation Ford Mustang Boss 302S. There were some hard hits from both of these yellows, but everyone walked away okay.

Boys and Girls Club essay winner Ulysses joined Gary Schafer's Nissan_Sparco_Motul team for the weekend.

There was good racing up front and throughout the field amongst Cadillac, Porsche, Volvo, Nissan, Ford, Acura, Chevrolet…you name it! Doors were banging and drivers were hungry to make passes, like they always are, especially on street courses. Even more so in this particular race due to the amount of cautions the race saw. There was no time to mess around.

Johnny O'Connell getting out in victory lane for winning Round 6.

Crossing the line first to take the checkers was Johnny O'Connell, taking his second win of the season and growing his lead in the GT points championship. O'Connell also won the pole for Sunday's Round 7 race. The grid was determined by the order of best lap times in Saturday's Round 6 event. Second place in GT was the TruSpeed Privacy Star Porsche belonging to Lawson Aschenbach and third was O'Connell's teammate Andy Pilgrim also driving a Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R. Andy Lee in the Best IT/Bondurant Chevrolet Camaro was a dominant force leading every lap, but the action behind him was thrilling and likely helped Andy keep the lead as his competitors were in offence mode for most of the race. Povoledo and Baldwin took second and third to round out the podium in GTS.

A look under the hood of the Hawk Performance Nissan GT-R.


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