Thursday, July 11, 2013
Mini of Charleston driver Robbie Davis took the checkered flag for two out of three Pirelli World Challenge Series races held in Lakeville, Conn. July 4th weekend.
The same rain that swamped the entire East Coast leading into the holiday weekend created some steamy conditions and hot racing action at Lime Rock Park, the famous 1.53-mile road course where rounds four through six were held.
The MINI of Charleston/MINI USA/MINI Financial Services MINI Cooper team carried Davis to a fourth place qualifying position for the first 25-minute sprint race. Starting on the pole was fellow MINI driver Johan Schwartz (Denmark) in the Sneed Speed MINI Cooper, and rounding out the Top 3 were Joel Lipperini (Pittston, Pa) in a Honda Fit and Ernie Francis, Jr. (Davie. Fla.) in a Mazda 2.
Early in the race the MINIs of Schwartz, Davis and Charlie James were able to pull out a lead on the rest of the field. When Johan’s MINI suffered a mechanical problem, Davis took the lead, but was still pressured by James and Francis. However the duo of Francis and James (entering the weekend first and second in the championship points) had some racing that was too close and Francis went into the guardrail, ruining his race and points lead. Davis maintained the lead, winning his first Pirelli World Challenge TCB win, with James (Joplin, Mo.) finishing in second and Tyler Palmer (Oceanside, Ca.) finishing third in his MINI Cooper, making it a 1-2-3 MINI sweep of the podium.
In the second sprint race, Davis grabbed the class lead at the start and stayed out in front for a flag-to-flag win and his second PWC victory. Tyler Palmer found additional speed in the second race and was able to get around Charlie James and pressure Davis, but could never get close enough to threaten a pass. MINIs again sweep the podium positions, with James and Palmer switching places for a Davis/Palmer/James finish.
The sixth round featured James with the pole from turning the fastest race lap in the fifth round and Davis next to him. Coming through the field with great drives were the Honda of Lipperini and the Mazda of Francis. Lipperini was able to grab the top spot and lead for many laps, but Davis hunted him down and made a pass for the lead. However, Davis was unable to hold the lead, with his tires going away causing handling problems. James battled Francis and suffered a wreck when lapping a back marker. Davis spun twice late in the race and finished eighth. Luckily for the MINI camp, Tyler Palmer again had a great race and put his MINI in third behind winner Lipperini and second-place Francis.
With Francis’ problems on Thursday and James’ accident Saturday, Davis and the MINI of Charleston team used the 2 victories on July Fourth to lift Davis into the Championship Points lead.
The full race videos are available at http://www.world-challengetv.com/ or the two-hour race recap show will air on the NBC Sports Network on July 20th at 4 p.m.
In other Mini of Charleston news, the SCCA Nationals Majors Tour Eastern Conference wrapped up its season in June at Watkins Glen, N.Y. Father and team manager Brad Davis and son Robbie Davis were awarded trophies as their class champions and both also clinched SCCA Southeast Division Championships, Brad in H Production and Robbie in B Spec.