PWC: Champions crowned in Utah

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Editor’s note: this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge Nissan Championship Finale brought to you by Motul from Miller Motorsports Park will air on NBCSN on Sunday, September 28, at 2:30 p.m. ET. If you don’t care to know the outcome until then, we’d advise you read no further.

A pair of dramatic races wound up producing two repeat champions in the GT and GTS classes, to cap off the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge season.

Johnny O’Connell (Cadillac, GT) and Lawson Aschenbach (Chevrolet Camaro, GTS) took their second straight titles, and third (O’Connell) and fourth (Aschenbach) overall as World Challenge capped off its 25th Anniversary season at Miller Motorsports Park outside Salt Lake City, Utah in Tooele.

O’Connell finished second in Round 15, and seventh in Round 16 to secure the title in GT. The GT title was good as decided after Friday when an axle issue took out O’Connell’s title rival Mike Skeen (Audi) right off the start. O’Connell ended second following another of his and the Cadillac’s trademark dynamic starts, behind Guy Smith, who took Bentley’s first North American win in the Dyson Racing Team Bentley entry. Skeen was mathematically eliminated upon the green flag on Saturday.

In the second race of the weekend, Robert Thorne delivered a dynamic drive to hold off Ryan Dalziel. Thorne, 24, drove beyond his years to hold off one of sports car racing’s top overall drivers for the win, both his first in GT and the first for the McLaren 12C GT3 on North American soil, as well. Cadillac held off Audi for its third straight GT Manufacturer’s Championship.

Michael Mills won the inaugural GT-A division for EFFORT Racing and Porsche with his sixth win of the year in Round 15 and another podium in Round 16; Tim Pappas scored the final GT-A race win of the year, his second of the season.

GTS saw heartbreak for the pair of Kia Racing/Kinetic Motorsports drivers, particularly Canadian Mark Wilkins, who entered the weekend with an 80-point lead.

A half shaft failure off the line in Friday’s Round 15 left Wilkins stranded, and then hit by of all people, teammate Nic Jonsson. Both were out of contention, although Jonsson later returned to the track and wound up setting the fastest race lap, which proved crucial.

The Kia retirements, Andy Lee’s move up from GTS to GT in a Lamborghini and the Chevrolet Camaros struggling for pace left the top of GTS rather jumbled. Jack Baldwin led the majority of the race before, ironically, Lee collided with him and cost him the lead spot. TRG-AMR’s Nick Esayian took advantage for a surprise, if popular, second career win in the series in his Aston Martin GT4. Teammate Drew Regitz scored his first career series podium in third, ahead of Aschenbach in fourth.

Baldwin rebounded to win on Saturday ahead of Aschenbach and Regitz. Wilkins charged from 18th to sixth before his Kia suffered an overheating problem, and Jonsson was the one to fall victim for a half shaft failure this time around. Despite the trials and tribulations, Kia still managed to secure the GTS Manufacturer’s Championship.

In the Touring Car ranks, Adam Poland and Steve Doherty each bagged their second wins of the year, while champion-elect Michael DiMeo fought through a challenging weekend and wasn’t on the podium either day. Still, by virtue of his record-tying eight wins from the first 10 races earlier this year, DiMeo easily secured the TC class crown for Compass360 Racing and Honda.

Rookie Jason Wolfe took the TCA title for Kia, and Kia won that class Manufacturer’s Championship on a 6-5 wins tiebreaker over Honda. Wolfe and teammate Nic Jonsson split the wins; myriad mechanical issues plagued Shea Holbrook in her quest to become the first female champion in series history, although she still finished second.

Brian Price took the underdog Unlimited Racing/RP Performance to the TCB driver’s title over youngsters Nathan Stacy and Tyler Palmer. Price, 37, is three years older than Stacy (14) and Palmer (20)… combined (34). Price and Johan Schwartz split the race wins.

All told it was an incredible year of Pirelli World Challenge competition, later celebrated on Saturday night.

Formula One names Stefano Domenicali as its new CEO

Stefano Domenicali named F1 CEO
Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images
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Former Ferarri chief Stefano Domenicali was named the new president and CEO of F1, replacing Chase Carey in January 2021, Liberty Media announced Friday.

Domenicali, 55, will join Formula One from Lamborghini, where he had been CEO and president.

He worked on Ferrari’s F1 team for nearly 20 years, becoming the team principal in 2008. He left in 2014 and worked at Audi before joining Lamborghini.

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“I am thrilled to join the Formula 1 organization, a sport that has always been part of my life,” Domenicali said in a release. “I was born in Imola and live in Monza.  I’ve remained connected to the sport through my work with the Single Seater Commission at the FIA and I look forward to connecting with the teams, promoters, sponsors and many partners in Formula 1 as we continue to drive the business ahead.

“The past six years at Audi and then leading Lamborghini have given me broader perspective and experience that I will bring to Formula 1.”

Carey, who had led F1 since Liberty’s Formula One Group took control of the organization in 2017, will move to the role of non-executive chairman.

“Chase has done a phenomenal job leading F1,” Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei said in a statement. “He assembled a first-class commercial and sporting organization that has a long list of achievements, including broadening the appeal of the sport, growing its digital presence, establishing new technical regulations, securing a cost cap for the first time and reaching a new more equitable Concorde agreement with the teams.  His actions have reinforced F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport.”

Said Carey: “It has been an honor to lead Formula 1, a truly global sport with a storied past over the last seventy years. I’m proud of the team that’s not only navigated through an immensely challenging 2020 but returned with added purpose and determination in the areas of sustainability, diversity and inclusion.  I’m confident that we’ve built the strong foundation for the business to grow over the long term.”