GRANTSVILLE, Utah (August 12, 2017) – Greg Liefooghe, Shea Holbrook and P.J. Groenke collected Touring Car class victories Saturday at Utah Motorsports Campus in the Pirelli World Challenge Round 7 40-minute race as part of the Security National Mortgage Supercar Grand Prix of Utah.
Liefooghe scored his second TC win of the season in the No. 20 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR as he took the lead in turn two on the opening lap after pole winner Paul Holton of Orlando, Fla., went wide in turn one. Then a multi-car incident in turn two forced a four-lap caution period.
Liefooghe set the pace for the remainder of the 15-lap TC event to defeat reigning TC series champion Toby Grahovec of Celina, Tex., by 3.655 seconds at the checkered flag. Grahovec, driving the No. 1 Classic BMW BMW M325iR, finished ahead of Anthony Magagnoli of Dexter, Mich., in the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M235iR, Jacob Ruud of Racine, Wisc., in the No. 81 Winding Road Team TFB BMW M235iR and Jayson Clunie of Prince Albert, Sask., Can., in the No. 2 BMW M235iR. The top five TC finishers were in BMW M235iR machines.
“It was a great race for me,” said Liefooghe. “I was able to survive the start which took half my team out which is unfortunate and I feel bad for my teammates. Our car was really good all the way through the race. The guys behind me were battling very hard so it allowed me to pull away and maintain a big gap. After that it was just about managing it. The restart was very good for me and you don’t always get lucky on restarts but this time we did.”
Current Touring Car point leader Paul Holton of Orlando, Fla., came back from his early off-track incident to finish tenth in the No. 71 C360R Audi RS3 LMS and holds on to the TC point lead.
Holbrook, making her first appearance in TCA in three years, debuted her No. 67 Bubba Burgers/Shea Racing Honda Civic Si in dramatic fashion after winning the TCA pole position Saturday morning and then waging a spirited battle with defending TCA series champion Elivan Goulart of Shelton, Conn., in the No. 70 S.A.C. Racing Mazda Global MX-5 Cup car. Both drivers exchanged the lead Saturday before Shea made a late race move to grab her first win since Mid-Ohio in 2014. The win for Holbrook’s Shea Racing was the second of the year as teammate Tom O’Gorman took the all-new Honda Civic Si to victory lane in May at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Third went to Craig Stanton of Yorba Linda, Calif., in another excellent race debut with the No. 86 DG-Spec Toyota TMG 86 Cup Car. Rounding out the top-five in TCA were Kenny Murillo of Santa Rosa in the Murillo Racing Mazda Global MX-5 Cup and VIR double winner Matthew Fassnacht of Madison, N.J., in the No. 74 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX-5.
“It’s an understatement to say that we’ve had a bit of a tough season,” said Holbrook. “Shea Racing was a four-car team that turned into a two-car team after the second race of the PWC TC schedule. My heart still goes out to my teammates Jason Fichter and Sarah Montgomery; we wish they were here with us. They had really big, scary wrecks for not just PWC but for all of North America so we miss them. I love that part of PWC that’s still giving us a place to buy these cars and build them from the ground up, but also to give us the opportunity to get turn-key cars, already developed and you just get the car and run. Elivan and I had a great race today and I was able to get by him late for the win. It’s very exciting.”
Groenke, the veteran from Richmond Hill, Ont., Can., scored his initial Pirelli World Challenge win Saturday in the No. 25 TechSport Racing Chevrolet Sonic in a tight battle with his teammate Canaan O’Connell of Chandler, Ariz., in the No. 24 TechSport Racing Chevrolet Sonic. Third went to Jasper Drengler of Shawano, Wis., in the No. 01 Drengler Racing Honda Fit.
“It was pretty stressful,” said Groneke. “The start was a bit messy because we had that big mess in the first corner and you couldn’t see anything driving through it. Luckily everyone in TCB got in clean and we just handled our business from there. I just kept winding through traffic and managed a little bit of breathing room. Then it came down right to the end and I was sweating. It was mental. I was in the middle of a TCA sandwich coming through on the last corner before the last straight of the last lap. I was checking here and there and everywhere and hoping that the guys weren’t going to run into me and hoping that people were holding Canaan up a little more and it all worked out.”
The Touring Car division will have a second 40-minute Sprint race on Saturday with Round 8 set for 5:10 p.m. MDT. World-Challenge.com and MotorTrendOnDemand will live-stream the race for free.