Pirelli put the wraps on a highly-successful inaugural season as title sponsor and official tire supplier to the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge series Friday at the Cadillac World Challenge Road Atlanta Grand Prix in Georgia. The race was the final round of the 2011 Pirelli World Challenge Championship – a season that saw a record amount of cars on grids and great competitive racing thanks in part to the introduction of the Pirelli P Zero Racing Slick as the series’ spec tire.
“We are pleased with the performance of the Pirelli P Zero racing tires in our first year as official tire supplier to the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge” said Tom Gravalos, Pirelli Tire North America’s Vice-President of Marketing, Motorsports and Original Equipment. “Pirelli has been able to bring an unprecedented level of competition, speed, safety and technical innovation to the series.”
Friday’s race at Road Atlanta was held just an hour away from Pirelli Tire North America’s Rome, Georgia headquarters and saw Johnny O’Connell get the jump on the GT field at the standing start. He sped away on the opening lap, scoring a 0.901-second victory over the No. 2 CRP Racing/Cragar Wheels Chevrolet Corvette of Charlotte’s Mike Skeen. O’Connell’s teammate Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., won the race-long battle for third with Patrick Lindsey,
“It’s always great to win your home race, the Cadillac team has been working hard all year and to finish out with a win is a great feeling,” said Johnny O’Connell – GT Winner, Cadillac. “You have to thank everyone at Pirelli, their commitment to the series, the consistency of the tires, the grip. All aspects of the tires were great this year.”
Patrick Long clinched the 2011 Pirelli World Challenge Drivers’ Championship one race ago, and finished the season with 1,327 points. O’Connell’s second win of the season moved him to second in the Championship, with 1,222 points. Skeen finished third, with 1,197 points, followed by Sofronas (1,112) and Pilgrim (968).
“Road Atlanta is known as one of the hardest tracks on tires and I ran in an absolute sprint the whole way with James Sofronas,” said Patrick Long – GT Champion, Porsche. “That goes for the whole season, we’ve had not one flaw, not one issue. Pirelli delivered us a consistent tire that allows us to put on a great show. The series has come a long way in a short time and it is a pleasure to race here. The series is unique with the standing starts, single driver formats with multiple class structure. They have a really good thing going and are headed in the right direction.”
Like Long, Porsche clinched the GT Manufacturers’ Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and finished with 78 points, followed by Cadillac, with 58, Volvo (31) and Nissan (1).
Eric Foss, of Dallas, Texas, and Toronto’s Aaron Povoledo won the GTS and Touring Car class races, respectively. Foss, in the No. 73 Traxxas/St. Jude Hospital/SPX Ford Mustang FR500S led the entire way for his second win of the season over Jason von Kluge, of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Paul Brown, of Covina, Calif.
“The car was phenomenal today, I could not do wrong it was so good,” said Eric Foss, GTS Winner Ford Mustang. “The Pirelli tires are amazing. I have never raced on a tire that you can drive so hard and aggressive all day and they are just there lap after lap after lap. I couldn’t even blow them out at the end when I did the big burn out they are so good.”
Brown won the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Drivers’ Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and finished the season with 1,521 points to Foss’ 1,257. Peter Cunningham (1,188), Ben Crosland (1,178) and Esayian (921) completed the top five in points.
Ford earned the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship, with 112 points to Acura’s 57 and Nissan’s six.
Driving the No. 88 K-Pax Racing Volvo C30, Povoledo earned his fourth Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car race win of 2011 after starting from the pole, but unlike O’Connell and Foss, he had to come from behind.
“The highest note is that we won the most competitive race of World Challenge this year,” Povoledo said. “Volkswagen came with the big APR team, it was a real clash of titans, you had Aschenbach, Hurley and I going at it and trading the lead back and forth, it was a lot of fun.”
Champion elect Lawson Aschenbach, of Darnestown, Maryland, finished third in the No. 71 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si and clinched his second World Challenge Drivers’ Championship, his first in Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car, one race ago, and finished the season with 1,543. Povoledo finished second, with 1,334, followed by Holland (1,080), Rookie of the Year Tristan Herbert (1,015) and Ray Mason (875).
“We had a great year this year and Pirelli’s were spot on all year,” said Lawson Aschenbach – TC Class Champion. “We could push 110% the whole race and the tires held up great! I had a little experience with the product from running in the Rolex series and knew that it would be a good thing when it was announced they would be coming here. The introduction of the Pirelli tire has upped everyone’s game and that has been fun, Pirelli did a tremendous job.”
Honda earned the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship, with 92 points, followed by Volvo (77) and Volkswagen (61).
This past weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge season finale—the Cadillac World Challenge Road Atlanta Grand Prix, will be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. on Versus.
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Pirelli Tire North America designs, develops, manufactures and markets tires for passenger vehicles in both the original equipment and replacement markets as well as markets and distributes tires for motorcycles and motorsports. Located in Rome, Georgia, Pirelli’s Modular Integrated Robotized System (MIRS) employs state-of-the-art technology to manufacture tires for both export and domestic markets. For more information please visit www.us.pirelli.com.