TORONTO – Nick Tandy, Marcelo Hahn and Dean Martin took class victories in the Pirelli World Challenge at the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday in Exhibition Place.
Round Nine of the 2014 season, a 50-minute timed event, was one of the wilder, more eventful races in recent memory.
The race went to a full-course caution after contact exiting Turn 1 between GMG Racing teammates Bret Curtis, of Austin, Texas, in the No. 32 Spectra Resources/United Steel Supply/Valspar Paint Audi R8 Ultra and Brent Holden, of Newport Coast, Calif. in the No. 44 GMG Racing Audi R8 Ultra blocked the track.
At least 10 cars sustained minor damage or other issues from the incident, and the race remained under yellow for six laps and nearly 15 minutes. Several retired due to crash damage or other ailments, including GTS class polesitter Nic Jonsson, of Buford, Ga., in the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Kia Optima among them.
Once the race restarted on Lap 7, Tandy, of Bedfordshire, England in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3 R led away cleanly in both GT and overall while the battle was for second behind him. Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Quebec, in the No. 92 Dodge/SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R held off a fierce attack from Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R, who’d made a great start to advance from fifth up to third.
Contact on Lap 8 between Andrew Palmer, of Chicago, in the No. 21 GMG Racing Audi R8 Ultra and Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Audi R8 Ultra at Turn 8 spun Palmer around but the race continued under green.
In the incident aftermath, GT-A driver Walt Bowlin, of Tarpon Springs, Fla. in the No. 23 Tampa Bay Jaw Surgery Centers Audi R8 Ultra was able to pass GTS leaders Martin, of Westland, Mich., in the No. 50 Picture Cars East/Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302S and Lawson Aschenbach, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro to ensure the GTS class race could continue without a GT car in the middle of them. That left the GTS battle to rage for the remaining distance.
From there the race was able to settle into a bit of a rhythm in both classes. Tandy led from Wittmer and O’Connell, with O’Connell consistently hounding Wittmer. The GTS top three were then covered by a blanket with Martin ahead of Aschenbach and Jack Roush Jr., of Livonia, Mich., in the No. 60 ROUSH Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R.
The story of the race behind the podium contenders was Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, who put in a dynamic comeback in the No. 38 PutOnTheBrakes.org Kia Optima from 19th on the grid and 42nd overall. Wilkins, who had qualified on pole, was sent to the rear of the field after his car was found out of compliance in post-qualifying technical inspection.
Wilkins avoided the Turn One accident and stealthily scythed his way up to 12th by the first caution, then eventually into the top 10 and top five.