Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Houston, Texas - A Summerville native has been crowned a class champion for the Pirelli World Challenge professional race series.
After the final season races were held the first weekend in October during the Houston Grand Prix Race Weekend, the Pirelli World Challenge professional race series crowned its class champions. Robbie Davis in the MINI of Charleston Racing Team 2012 MINI Cooper won the 2013 Class TCB-Spec Championship.
The season finale TCB Class races, two back-to-back 25-minute races with a 15 minute break to rotate tires, were run as part of the Houston Indy Car race weekend at the 1.6 mile street course around the Reliant Center and Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas.
Davis, originally from Summerville and a Clemson University Graduate, had recently moved to Houston and was seeking to use a home field advantage to close the one-point deficit that stood between him and Ernie Francis, Jr. of Davie, Fla. Serious track surface problems for the low clearance Indy Cars and delays for repairs cancelled the qualifying sessions for the Pirelli World Challenge teams. The first race would start based on driver points, with Francis on the pole and Davis next to him.
At the green flag, Joel Lipperini got a good jump on the two front row cars and made it three wide going into the tight turn one chicane. Davis’ MINI was forced outside onto a part of the track that was still covered with concrete dust from the attempted track repair the night before. The rear of the MINI slid out and began a spin back across the track. Francis Jr. cut his Mazda 2 hard to the left to avoid Davis and hit the wall along with the MINI. Francis’ car was damaged beyond being able to complete the race, but Rob’s MINI, although suffering cosmetic damage, mechanically was still sound. The mishap dropped Davis to 19th, but he was able to set the fastest race lap and come back through most of the field, finishing eighth. Tyler Palmer of Oceanside, Ca. in his 2010 MINI Cooper, won the race.
The second race started with the cars lined up in the order that they finished the first race. Ernie Francis Jr. hopped into the father’s Mazda 2 for this race and had a good drive towards the front, but ultimately was not able to get high enough to have an effect on the final points standings.
Davis improved to seventh place and Francis Jr. finished eighth. Palmer went on to win the race and move up to fourth place in the final points standings; Ernie Francis Jr. finished third and Pittston, Pa.’s Joel Lipperini brought his Honda Fit to second in points.
Davis finished the 14-race series with 1,382 points. Lipperini finished with 1,352 and Francis Jr. finished with 1,345.
At the awards presentation Sunday evening, Davis thanked his father for being his mentor for his racing career and noted that it was almost exactly 10 years since his first drive in a race car with his dad next to him screaming instructions. He also thanked Stuart Kestenbaum of Charleston and Chris McAlister of Charlotte who served as his volunteer crew all season.
Davis and the MINI of Charleston team had three wins; eight Top 3 finishes and all of their 14 finishes were in the Top 8 or better. Davis also lead the most laps during three races, was the fastest qualifier twice and set the fastest race lap in four races.