Ryan Winchester and Robbie Davis Start on Pole for Saturday's Round 11 TC/TCB Races at Sonoma
Robbie Davis (Touring Car B-Spec) scored one of Thursday's class poles for Round 11 of the Pirelli World Challenge season, the Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma, a part of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend. Meanwhile, Touring Car points leader Ryan Winchester will start on pole in class as the starting order will be determined by points. A red flag occurred just one lap into the TC qualifying session, and did not allow the TC class competitors to set representative times.
The 20-minute TCB session that ran first was not devoid of drama. Davis, of Dallas, Texas, in the No. 37 MINI of Charleston Racing MINI Cooper laid down a flier of 2:05.275 to eclipse his main rival for the class championship, Ernie Francis Jr., of Davie, FL in the No. 98 Festivals of Speed/Breathless Performance Mazda 2.
"It's very appropriate, isn't it? It just cuts everything down even closer to the wire," said Davis. "We're so close with Junior in the points. We knew the MINIs would be close in drafting and even though we didn't produce anything until the one lap, that one took."
Francis Jr. will start second after a best lap of 2:05.352. The qualifying result also moves Davis into the TCB class points lead. Unofficially, the seven points for pole gives Davis a five-point edge, 1041-1036, entering Round 11 on Saturday.
Another MINI qualified third, in the hands of rookie Tyler Palmer. Palmer, of Oceanside, CA in the No. 24 BlackForest Porsche/4R Motorsports/Mobil 1 MINI Cooper, clocked in at 2:05.440 as he seeks another podium and perhaps his first Pirelli World Challenge class win.
P.J. Groenke, of Toronto, equaled his season-best qualifying effort for Shea Racing in fourth place. Groenke, driver of the No. 66 Mulligan Gold/Tundra/Verax.ca Honda Fit set his best lap of 2:05.486. Joel Lipperini, of Pittston, PA, rounded out the top five with a 2:05.702 in the No. 81 RaceLabz Honda Fit.
An incident occurred shortly after the green flag to the 20-minute TC qualifying session, involving Ken Dobson, of Sonoma, CA in the No. 07 Williams Autosport/King Electric Fiat Abarth. Dobson was taken to track medical for examination but was cleared and released shortly after. However, the subsequent track clean surpassed the 20-minute qualifying window.
Michael Cooper, of Syosset, NY, set what was the fastest lap of the session in his No. 1 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 at 1:53.901. Jon Miller, of Orlando, FL, was second in the No. 68 Titan Motorsports/Loudbasstard Honda Civic Si for Shea Racing at 1:58.777. Times set in Thursday's practice sessions were in the 1:49 to 1:53 range, so these laps were not fliers but merely the first timed laps.
With the incident forcing the red flag, the decision was made to set the grid by points, per Rule 188.8.131.52 of the 2013 SCCA Pro Racing Rulebook: The first 10 grid positions for qualifying will be reserved for the top 10 drivers in the Driver's Championship. The remaining positions will be filled by drivers in order of their fastest practice time.
That means Winchester, of Mason City, IA in the No. 72 C360R/Ligion Industries/HPD Honda Civic Si will start ahead of his two Compass360 Racing teammates.
"First of all, I'm glad Dobson is alright," Winchester said. "It's an unfortunate deal for him and no one wants to win pole this way.
"There's been a change in the tire rule now, with no tire change in-between," he added, based on a competition adjustment entering this weekend. "With the Mazda (Cooper) starting behind us, he may need to use his up faster."
Brett Sandberg, of Allendale, NJ starts second in the No. 70 C360R/GearTie.com/HPD Honda Civic Si with Remo Ruscitti, of Vancouver, Canada third in the No. 71 C360R/Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si. Miller and Cooper will start fourth and fifth.
Starting lineups for Saturday's Pirelli World Challenge Championship Pirelli World Challenge TC/TCB Round 11 race, part of the Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, TC, (72), Ryan Winchester, Mason City, Iowa, Honda Civic Si, 2:02.187, 70.269.
2, TC, (70), Brett Sandberg, Allendale, N.J., Honda Civic Si, 2:01.070, 70.917.
3, TC, (71), Remo Ruscitti(R), Vancouver, Calif., Honda Civic Si, 2:00.550, 71.223.
4, TC, (68), Jon Miller, Orlando, Fla., Honda Civic Si, 1:58.777, 72.286.
5, TC, (1), Michael Cooper, Syosset, N.Y., Mazda3, 1:53.901, 75.381.
6, TC, (30), Fred Emich, Denver, Colo., Volkswagen Jetta GLI, 2:04.774, 68.812.
7, TC, (43), Sarah Cattaneo, Scottsdale, Ariz., Honda Civic Si, no time.
8, TC, (10), Clark Toppe(R), The Woodlands, Texas, Kia Forte Koup, 2:02.646, 70.006.
9, TC, (96), Brad Adams, New Orleans, La., Mazda MX-5, 2:04.929, 68.727.
10, TC, (07), Ken Dobson, Sonoma, Calif., Fiat Abarth, no time.
1, TCB, (37), Robbie Davis, Dallas, Texas, Mini Cooper, 2:05.275, 68.537.
2, TCB, (98), Ernie Francis_Jr(R), Davie, Fla., Mazda2, 2:05.352, 68.495.
3, TCB, (24), Tyler Palmer(R), Oceanside, Calif., BMW Mini Cooper, 2:05.440, 68.447.
4, TCB, (66), P J Groenke, Toronto, Ontario, Honda Fit, 2:05.486, 68.422.
5, TCB, (81), Joel Lipperini, Pittston, Pa., Honda Fit, 2:05.702, 68.304.
6, TCB, (17), Kyle Keenan(R), Vancouver, Wash., Kia Rio, 2:05.737, 68.285.
7, TCB, (67), Shea Holbrook, Groveland, Fla., Honda Fit, 2:05.828, 68.236.
8, TCB, (12), Johan Schwartz, Denmark, , Honda Fit, 2:05.895, 68.199.
9, TCB, (99), David Alejandro(R), Pembrook Pines, Fla., Mazda2, 2:06.096, 68.091.
10, TCB, (2), Ernie Francis(R), Davis, Fla., Mazda2, 2:06.161, 68.055.
11, TCB, (32), Harry Cheung(R), Atherton, Calif., Honda Fit, 2:06.748, 67.740.
12, TCB, (22), Chris Capaldi, Armada, Mich., Ford Fiesta, 2:08.045, 67.054.
13, TCB, (45), Sage Marie, Huntington Beach, Calif., Honda Fit, 2:08.127, 67.011.
14, TCB, (16), Michael Ashby(R), Buffalo, N.Y., Mazda 2, 2:08.265, 66.939.
15, TCB, (57), Andrei Kisel(R), North Vancouver, British Columbia, Mini Cooper, 2:08.417, 66.860.
16, TCB, (65), Brian Fowler(R), Weston, Fla., Ford Fiesta, 2:09.857, 66.118.
17, TCB, (11), Jack Murray(R), Montgomery, Texas, Fiat 500, 2:10.708, 65.688.
18, TCB, (77), Fernando Seferlis(R), Panama, Mazda 2, 2:11.400, 65.342.
19, TCB, (78), Jim Cleveland(R), Queensland Australia, Fiat 500, 2:12.930, 64.590.