MRLS Sunday: PWC Crowns Champions, MRTI Finishes Up

Corey Fergus scores PWC TC title. Photo: Pirelli World Challenge
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MONTEREY, Calif. – We’ll split off separate Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GT Cup stories later, but we’ll put the rest of today’s action from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in one post.

The Pirelli World Challenge GTS and Touring Car (TC, TCA, TCB) classes have their races while the remaining two rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, conclude their seasons after both their titles were decided on Saturday.

PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE TC/TCA/TCB RACE

Corey Fergus, Jason Wolfe and Johan Schwartz clinched the Touring Car, Touring Car A and Touring Car B-Spec titles in the 18th and final rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge TC season.

Fergus finished second to Ernie Francis Jr., his closest championship contender, in the final race of the year. Francis, in the Breathless Performance Mazda MX-5, actually won his fourth race of the year, which led Fergus by one (four-three), but Fergus’ consistency – 14 top-five finishes to Francis’ 11 – netted the series rookie the championship in the No. 00 Motorsports Promotions Porsche Cayman. Fergus finished second after Adam Poland and Vesko Kozarov collided at Turn 10, battling for second.

Wolfe clinched his second straight TCA title for Kinetic Motorsports, in the No. 36 Kia Forte Koup, during the race. The battle for the race win had featured Paul Holton and Tony Rivera, although Holton’s Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si and Rivera’s Scion FR-S Coupe collided on the run into Turn 5, for a heavy accident. Wolfe capitalized on their demise for the win, his eighth of the year.

Schwartz had the title sealed prior to Sunday’s final race in his No. 25 Tech Sport Racing Chevrolet Sonic but did not factor into the race win. Joey Jordan took his Mazda 2 to his third win of the weekend in as many races, and fourth overall in six starts this year.

PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE GTS RACE

The 50-minute GTS season finale was fairly uneventful, as Michael Cooper secured his second World Challenge championship (2012, Touring Car) and first in GTS. Cooper also won the third straight title for Blackdog Speed Shop, which won the last two GTS titles with Lawson Aschenbach.

There was a two-car accident on the standing start, with Mark Wilkins’ Kia Optima stalling and then being contacted by Freddie Hunt in his Maserati GranTurismo. It prompted a yellow flag for clean-up. On the restart, Kris Wilson passed polesitter Jack Baldwin and waltzed away from there en route to his fifth win of the season, a class high, for TRG-AMR in his Aston Martin Vantage.

Baldwin was second with Andrew Aquilante third, and short of the championship. Cooper finished 10th, same as his car number of his Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R.

MAZDA ROAD TO INDY – PRO MAZDA, USF2000 RACES

Garett Grist completed a weekend sweep in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires races, with a great start in his No. 5 Juncos Racing entry. It marks his third win of the season.

Newly crowned champion Santiago Urrutia was second, and Neil Alberico third.

More to follow…

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III