O’Connell & Wilkins Rule Belle Isle

Mark Wilkins put his Kia in victory lane after winning the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class race Saturday at Belle Isle Park in Detroit. (Al Steinberg Photo)

In GTS, Wilkins also led flag-to-flag in his No. 38 Kia Motors America Kia Optima, finishing 1.078 seconds ahead of Jack Baldwin.

“We were flat out,” Wilkins said. “Lawson [Aschenbach] and Jack [Baldwin] did a great job. Lawson was coming on strong after some adversity throughout the weekend. And Jack’s always strong.

“We had to push. Thanks to Kia Racing and Kinetic Motorsports for a great race car today. The track changes are awesome. We really appreciate those. They really help. We had a good run and a strong car. We are looking forward to it all again tomorrow.”

Baldwin crossed the line second, adding valuable points to his GTS Driver’s Championship lead. The finish is Baldwin’s sixth-consecutive podium in 2013, behind the wheel of the No. 73 Motul/StopTech/Foametix Porsche Cayman S.

“It feels good to have nice little podium streak going on,” Baldwin said. “The competition is tough, my hats off to Lawson [Aschenbach] and Mark [Wilkins]. Both of them did a great job in the car. Today’s performance, and even at COTA, goes to show what a nice job Mark’s doing in managing that car. Those long straightaways favor his car, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I gave Mark everything I had, trying to keep him as honest as possible. Lawson came up after the caution, poking around. I don’t think either one of us had anything for Mark. It was Mark’s day, and we’ll try again tomorrow.”

Lawson Aschenbach finished third in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro. The finish is the fourth podium for Aschenbach this year, and he earned the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race getting around Dean Martin for what would end up being the third position.

“It’s tough,” Aschenbach said. “Street courses are the toughest places to pass. Unfortunately, our car is slowest in the straights, we don’t have that advantage. Our advantage is braking. It’s hard to close on someone enough where you don’t dive bomb them trying to pass. Fortunately, we were able to stay up there and make a couple of good passes. But, once I got up to Jack and Mark there was just nothing I could do.

“Hats off to the Black Dog guys, they’ve been working hard all weekend. We’ve had transmission issues since we showed up. We didn’t even get out for the first practice session, and qualified with just fourth gear, ending up ninth. Fortunately we got it sorted out. We’ve got a good car, but have to work on it to catch these guys.”

Martin led all Michigan drivers in Race One, finishing fourth in the No. 50 Picture Cars East/Grand Sanitation Ford Mustang Boss 302S.

The most recent GTS winner, Andy Lee completed the top five in the No. 20 Best IT/Bondurant/Crown Seven Chevrolet Camaro.

Roger Miller captured the Sunoco Hard Charger Award and the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start, en route to finishing 13th in class, passing 13 cars.