Pirelli World Challenge Returns

There are some interesting story lines developing for this year’s battle for drivers’, and manufacturers’ honors in the Pirelli World Challenge Series as it returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Cadillac Sports Car Grand Prix. A large, 43 car field is set to race May 11 as part of the American Le Mans Monterey, presented by Patrón race weekend.

Pirelli World Challenge races feature three classes of racing (GT, GTS, Touring Car) providing a competitive slot for nearly every sports car and sports sedan available. Races are 50-minutes from start to finish and begin with the series’ trademark standing start, an electrifying explosion of engine revs and tire squeal. The 50-minute sprint format guarantees each driver is giving 100 percent from start to finish, because there are no scheduled pit stops, or driver changes. With door-to-door racing, and all three classes running together, it’s like watching the intensity of the final lap, every lap.

Heading into the race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Johnny O’Connell (501 points) and Andy Pilgrim (452 points), piloting the Cadillac Racing CTS-V Coupes, are leading the GT Drivers’ Championship, while Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 Cup pilot James Sofronas is in third (354 points). Lawson Aschenbach, the 2011 Touring Car Champion and 2006 GT Champion is piloting the No. 1 TruSpeed Motorsports/Privacy Star/Entrust Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and sits in fourth with 342 points. Cadillac (25 points) leads the Manufacturers’ Championship ahead of Porsche (20 points) and Volvo (13 points).

Justin Bell in the Tiger Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302S is leading the GTS Drivers’ Championship with 475 points and is helping Ford lead the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship with 25 points over Acura with 19. Six-time Pirelli World Challenge champion Peter Cunningham, piloting the RealTime Racing Acura TSX, sits in second (437 points), while Jack Baldwin in the Hot Wheels Porsche Cayman sits in third with 425 points.

With Lawson Aschenbach moving up to the GT class in 2012, the battle for top spot in Touring Car is wide open. Michael Cooper, the 2011 Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion has moved up the ladder to pilot the No. 03 Atlanta Motorsports Group MazdaSpeed3 – Cooper leads the Touring Car Drivers’ Championship with 671 points. Todd Lamb and Ryan Winchester in the Compass360 Honda Civic Si’s are second (609 points) and third (459 points) in the championship, while Honda (39 points) leads Mazda (34 points) in the TC Manufacturers’ Championship.

Race fans who are not able to make it out to the track can catch live streaming of the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Sports Car Grand Prix at www.world-challengetv.com on Friday May 11 at 12:15 p.m. Pacific or wait to watch the race on NBC Sports Network on May 27 at 8 p.m. Pacific.