BOWMANVILLE, Ontario – Michael DiMeo (Touring Car), Jason Wolfe (Touring Car A) and Brian Price (Touring Car B-Spec) turned pole positions into race wins at round two for the Pirelli World Challenge Championships at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, part of the Victoria Day SpeedFest Weekend three-race event.
Both DiMeo and Price have won their second event in as many races this season, after also winning round one at Barber Motorsports Park three weeks ago. For Wolfe, it is his first career Pirelli World Challenge victory.
The 40-minute race kicked off from a standing start but was unable to complete the first lap before the yellow flag flew, when Andrei Kisel in the No. 57 Racing.ca/LaptopScreen.com Mini Cooper made contact at pit in with the sand-filled barriers. That triggered an immediate yellow flag and a further red flag, nearly 20 minutes in length, for track repairs.
When the race resumed, Jon Miller led the field in the No. 68 Titan Motorsports/Loudbasstard/BeTheMatch.org Honda Civic Si after taking the lead from DiMeo in the No. 71 LiUNA Honda Civic Si on the opening lap. But DiMeo retook the lead on the restart lap, earning him the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race Award.
Poor luck struck Miller from there as a mechanical issue affected him on lap four, pulling him for the second straight race. DiMeo led the rest of the way ultimately beating Gary Kwok by 12.082 seconds.
“It feels great. It’s kind of hard to put into words how it feels to win a World Challenge race here at this track, first time out. It’s awesome,” said DiMeo. “Today the race was just about being consistent, making a gap, and maintaining it, and finding lines that I can use for tomorrow if I need to find some more time for tomorrow and Sunday. We have a long weekend ahead.”
The battle behind DiMeo was for second, with Gary Kwok recovering from a poor standing start where he fell outside the overall top 10 in the No. 88 M&S Quality Produce Honda Civic Si. But by lap six, after passing his brother Tom and Adam Poland in the No. 11 Eastex Motorsports/Poland Construction Mazda MX-5, Gary Kwok was up to second.
Tom Kwok in the No. 63 M&S Quality Produce Honda Civic Si also made it past Poland and was into third place. Poland and fellow Mazda runner Jason Saini in the No. 28 OMP/Motovicity Mazda MX-5, had issues and finished the race several laps down.
The Kwoks held off a hard charging Karl Thomson in the No. 72 CTF/Racing4Research.org/HPD Honda Civic Si, for the two remaining podium positions. Just 1.894 seconds covered second through fourth in the Touring Car class.
In TCA, Wolfe in the No. 36 Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup, posted a flag-to-flag victory from pole position. But despite the win, the pole and leading both practice sessions, he did not have the race easy.
Wolfe stretched his lead by several seconds in the early stages of the race but eventually came back to the field. Second-placed Shea Holbrook gave Wolfe fits in the No. 67 TRUECar/Lucas Oil/Radium Honda Civic Si, as she made several passing attempts, most notably on lap 15 entering turn one, but was unable to get by the Kia. Still, with second, she’ll hold the unofficial points lead heading into Saturday’s round tree.
“I’m ecstatic right now. So happy. The guys did a great job with the car,” said Wolfe. “I received awesome help from Mark Wilkins (driver of the No. 38 Kia Optima in GTS, Toronto based with a lot of experience at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park), he broke the track down for me. Shea and Ernie were definitely pushing me there at the end, it was all I could do to hold onto it.”
In third was Ernie Francis Jr. in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda MX-5. Francis, 16, had past experience in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS and TCB classes, but was making his first TCA start this afternoon.
The top three in TCA were close, with Wolfe winning over Holbrook by just .590 of a second, with Francis only .610 of a second behind Holbrook.
Francis’ teammate and Barber round one runner-up, rookie Jason Cherry finished fourth in the No. 13 Autism Society of America/Avpro/Purposeful Architecture Mazda MX-5. In fifth was Wolfe’s teammate, Russell Smith in the No. 38 Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup.
Price had things his way in TCB for the second straight race in the No. 51 Unlimited Racing/RP Performance Honda Fit. He took a flag-to-flag win by 3.016 seconds but like DiMeo in TC, the battle was intense behind him for second.
“It feels good to come to a new facility, driving this awesome Honda Fit. The car handled flawlessly, braking, handling, power, the car was a well-oiled machine the whole race,” said Price. “The first couple of laps on the start, and then the restart my car right off from the get go was a little bit better through the corners than Stacy’s car, and I was able to get that little bit of gap and then I just set sail.”
Nathan Stacy, Nick Wittmer (a special entry racing for charity) and the late arriving Tyler Palmer had a say in the battle for second. On Lap 12, Stacy in the No. 14 TSG/Ford Racing Ford Fiesta and Wittmer in the No. 00 Shriners Hospitals for Children FIAT 500, were side-by-side for second with Palmer in the No. 37 MINI of Charleston Racing/MINIUSA.com Mini Cooper up to fourth and just behind them.
Palmer had only arrived in Toronto Friday morning and qualified 10th. But he put in a comeback drive from there and ultimately made it around both Wittmer and Stacy for second, earning the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for gaining eight positions during the race.
Wittmer, a former Pirelli World Challenge race winner, held off Stacy for the final podium position. Fifth in TCB was Jason Fichter in the No. 7 Surf Fire & Security Mini Cooper.