PWC: Weekend winners, plus other Mid-Ohio weekend notes

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Editor’s Note: The Pirelli World Challenge races from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course air Sunday, August 10, at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The GT, GT-A, and GTS classes ran Saturday and Sunday for 50-minute sprint races; the TC, TCA and TCB classes ran Friday and Saturday for 40 minutes apiece. If you don’t want to know who won the races, we’d advise you read no further. 

The GT, GT-A and GTS double at Mid-Ohio saw a trio of drivers complete doubleheader weekend sweeps. EFFORT Racing won both Saturday and Sunday in GT and GT-A, to cap off a perfect weekend for the Houston-based team in its pair of Porsche GT3 Rs.

Ryan Dalziel, making his return to the Pirelli World Challenge for the first time since 2013, took Saturday’s rain-shortened race as he was classified as the race leader when the race was red flagged due to a deluge. Johnny O’Connell and Mike Skeen rounded out the GT podium. Dalziel’s teammate, Michael Mills, won his second straight and third GT-A race of the year. Blackdog Speed Shop’s Lawson Aschenbach took the GTS win in his Chevrolet Camaro over Alec Udell and Nic Jonsson.

Podiums were similar in the all-dry race two, Round 12, on Sunday with Dalziel leading Skeen and Anthony Lazzaro in GT. The podium order was reversed in GT-A – Mills won but Albert von Thurn und Taxis and Jim Taggart swapped second and third; the German came second on Sunday with Taggart third. Aschenbach beat the Kia Racing/Kinetic Motorsports teammates of Jonsson and Mark Wilkins in GTS.

O’Connell (GT) and Wilkins (GTS) lead the respective points standings, as do their manufacturer’s (Cadillac, GT; Kia, GTS) with just four races and two race weekends to go. Mills leads the GT-A classified drivers.

The pair of Touring Car races were exciting both days; Friday’s featured a mix of wet/dry conditions while Saturday’s, all dry, was a thrill ride from start to finish.

Winners on Friday were Michael DiMeo (TC), Jason Wolfe (TCA) and Tyler Palmer (TCB). Wolfe’s drive was particularly impressive; the Mid-Ohio track instructor came from 14th overall on the grid up to second overall in his Kia Forte Koup, ultimately ending third overall behind DiMeo and Nissan driver Steven Doherty, who barely held onto his Nissan Altima Coupe in a wicked series of slides.

Saturday’s race two (Round 10) was a classic scrap between DiMeo and Adam Poland in TC, with DiMeo prevailing again for his eighth win in 10 races. Shea Holbrook secured her fifth win of the year in TCA in a nice bounce back, with Chase Pelletier winning in TCB. Hondas swept the win category there.

Points leaders in these classes are DiMeo (TC), Wolfe (TCA) and Brian Price (TCB); Wolfe and Holbrook are neck-and-neck for the TCA lead.

Dalziel’s pair of wins was enough for him to be confirmed for the remainder of the Pirelli World Challenge season in the No. 31 GT entry, as outlined in a video produced by EFFORT Racing. Nick Tandy had replaced prior driver Tim Bergmeister at Toronto, with Dalziel in for Mid-Ohio.

Former IndyCar rookie-of-the-year Alex Lloyd made his professional racing return in CRP Racing’s No. 12 Emkay Fleet Management/Hawk Performance Chevrolet Corvette. In race one he drove from 24th to 11th; in race two he stalled on the grid, took his start, had to serve a drive-through penalty, carved through the field and then had a mechanical issue. He recaps the weekend here for Yahoo Autos (it includes helmet cam. It’s good.).

There were two charity entries competing this weekend, with Pirelli World Challenge President/CEO Scott Bove and 15-year-old rising star Austin Cindric sharing the No. 55 Special Operations Warrior Foundation Ford Mustang Boss in GTS, and Leo Parente and Dan Goodman sharing the No. 00 FIAT USA/Pirelli Tire/SRT Motorsports FIAT 500 in TCB.

Bove (25th to 20th, race one) and Cindric (22nd to 14th, race two) each made passes in their respective races; the net total of 13, plus other flat donations, made for more than $13,500 raised in total. More here from the series website. Cindric completed his weekend – “The Quad” – with racing in all three USF2000 races plus the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Round 12. In the USF2000 races, Cindric finished 18th in race one, then sixth in both races two and three in the 21-car field.

More info will follow from Parente’s and Goodman’s respective outings soon.

After a couple-week break, the Pirelli World Challenge GT classes head to Sonoma Raceway on August 22-24 for a doubleheader, while the TC ones are next in action at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota August 29-31 for a doubleheader there.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”