Photo: PWC

PWC: Acura, Ferrari headline weekend winners in Utah

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For the first time since Lime Rock Park at the end of May, all Pirelli World Challenge classes reconvened this weekend at the Utah Motorsports Campus for six total races – two SprintX, two GTS and two Touring Car events.

The SprintX parity that has dominated the year continued, with two more new pairs of drivers each winning their first races this season.

On Saturday, Peter Kox took the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 to the pole position and together with co-driver Mark Wilkins, delivered the car’s first win in PWC competition, and means the car has won both there and IMSA with Michael Shank Racing in its debut season. That made it six different driver, team and manufacturer combinations to have won in the first six SprintX races of the season.

An off by Niccolo Schiro opened the door for Wilkins to regain the lead, with the Canadian then parlaying an excellent strategic defense the final minutes of the race to hold off the Italian in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 he shared with Daniel Mancinelli. The win also exorcised some personal demons for Wilkins, who lost a GTS championship he’d led most of the 2014 season driving for Kia after a nightmare weekend at Utah’s circuit.

Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister were third overall in their No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, Bergmeister back in SprintX after missing the Lime Rock round owing to duties at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring when Marc Lieb filled in.

RealTime was unable to complete the double on Sunday, coming close but no cigar with the sister No. 43 Acura driven by Ryan Eversley and Tom Dyer.

Instead, TR3 became the first team in SprintX to win twice this year, Mancinelli and Schiro winning their first race as teammates together after Mancinelli and Andrea Montermini won the SprintX opener at VIR back in April.

A series of late-race restarts bunched the field together and Mancinelli, who defended multiple times against Eversley, was able to hold back the popular Georgia native who delivered his and Dyer’s best finish of the season.

Michael Cooper, meanwhile, carved his way up to third in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R he shared with Jordan Taylor, helping him in both the overall GT championship and Cooper and Taylor within the SprintX one. The No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 of Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat came up just shy of a podium in fourth with the second Cadillac (Johnny O’Connell and Ricky Taylor) fifth and the Long/Bergmeister Porsche in sixth.

GTS saw Brazilian Rodrigo Baptista (No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 MR, pictured above, center) and American Ian James (No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT, pictured above, right) claim their third and fourth wins of the season, respectively. A tough weekend for points leader Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R saw his points lead shrink as the Balance of Performance was not necessarily in his nor the team’s favor.

The Touring Car classes raced twice on Saturday. Greg Liefooghe swept the two races overall and in TC in his Stephen Cameron Racing BMW 235i.

Shea Holbrook (pictured above) won in her first outing in TCA in three years in a new Honda Civic Si for her Shea Racing team in race one, while Kenny Murillo inherited the second win in his Murillo Racing Global MX-5 Cup car in race two following a post-race exclusion for provisional winner Eric Powell, in a Tech Sport Racing Scion FR-S. Also of note, Craig Stanton banked a TCA podium in race one in third in his new Toyota TMG 86 Cup Car.

Tech Sport did sweep the TCB class with P.J. Groenke (race one) and Canaan O’Connell (race two) splitting the wins in their Chevrolet Sonics.

The full complement of classes will be on display again at Circuit of The Americas on Labor Day weekend, with SprintX holding a three-race weekend including the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park makeup race.

Full results from this weekend at Utah are linked here.

MRTI: Road America Sunday notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Sunday at Road America for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires saw two series complete their second races of the weekend, with the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda taking to the track – the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires completed their weekend on Saturday.

Indy Lights saw a driver take an emotional first career win, while a chaotic USF2000 race saw the championship leader complete a weekend sweep.

Reports on both races are below.

Indy Lights: Franzoni Takes Emotional Maiden Win in Indy Lights

Victory Franzoni took an emotional first career victory Sunday at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Victor Franzoni finished third in Race 1 on Saturday, but did so despite driving what he described as “the worst of my career” to the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Sunday, however, was the exact opposite for the affable Brazilian driver, who took his maiden Indy Lights win in what has been an emotional weekend for him and his Juncos Racing team as they raced in memory of the late Jeff Green, Franzoni’s Pro Mazda teammate last year.

Pato O’Ward started on the pole, but engaged in an intense duel with Santi Urrutia in the opening laps.

Their battle came to a head on Lap 4, when Urrutia tried diving inside of O’Ward entering Turn 5, but they both ran wide on the exit – O’Ward even took to the outside grass – which opened the door for Franzoni to blitz by both of them entering Turn 6.

O’Ward, Urrutia, and Colton Herta then immediately had a hard fight for second, which saw them go three-wide in Turn 8. Ultimately, Urrutia lost out as he was pushed off the track and suffered front wing damage, forcing a pit stop for repairs – he ultimately finished seven laps off the lead in seventh.

Up front, Franzoni pulled away from everyone to win by nearly seven seconds. Herta emerged in second after battling with O’Ward, while Aaron Telitz passed O’Ward in the final laps to take the final spot on the podium. Ryan Norman rounded out the top five, with Dalton Kellett finishing sixth.

Full results are below.

USF2000: Kirkwood Survives Race 2 Carnage to Complete Weekend Sweep

Kyle Kirkwood survived a lot of chaos to win Race 2 at Road America and complete the weekend sweep. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

While Race 1 almost appeared easy for Kyle Kirkwood, who passed pole sitter Jose Sierra for the lead in Turn 1 off the start and then led every lap on the way to victory, Race 2 was a completely different story.

Kirkwood needed to outduel Kaylen Frederick and Lucas Kohl and survive a seemingly endless slew of carnage in Race 2 to grab the win, his fifth of the year, to complete a weekend sweep.

Three times the race was slowed by full-course cautions for on-track incidents.

The first came on the opening lap for separate incidents involving Sabre Cook, Russell McDonough, Jose Sierra, and Max Peichel – Cook and McDonough appeared to go off into the Turn 1 gravel, while Sierra and Peichel got together approaching Turn 5 and ended up against the outside wall.

A second caution was flown only a couple laps after racing resumed when Darren Keane and Kyle Dupell got together in Canada Corner, spinning off the track and stalling as a result.

And a third caution was flown in the waning laps when Lindh, who had been running second, went off into the Turn 3 gravel trap, while Kory Enders and Calvin Ming got together and spun in Turn 6.

Up front, Lucas Kohl had worked his way into the lead, passing Lindh in Turn 1 off the start, while Kirkwood had moved up to second, ahead of third-place runner Kaylen Frederick.

A restart with one lap remaining saw Kirkwood jump to the outside of Kohl entering Turn 1, and he completed the pass before they even got to the corner, Frederick then was able to get around Kohl for second, while Colin Kaminsky and Igor Fraga rounded out the top five. Of note: second-place man in the championship Alex Baron finished seventh, allowing Kirkwood to widen an already immense championship lead.

Results are below. Kirkwood now leads Baron by 94 points. Frederick now sits third, jumping ahead of Fraga and Sierra, who sit fourth and fifth.

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