GRANTSVILLE, Utah (August 12, 2017) – Greg Liefooghe, Eric Powell and Canaan O’Connell wrapped up Saturday at Utah Motorsports Campus with Touring Car class wins in the Pirelli World Challenge Round 8 40-minute race as part of the Security National Mortgage Supercar Grand Prix of Utah.
Liefooghe captured the double TC division victories with another solid start in the No. 20 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR in the late afternoon 40-minute sprint race and cruised to a 5.642-second victory over veteran Nick Wittmer of Montreal, Que., Can., in the No. 91 ST Racing BMW M235iR.
As in the first TC competition of the day, Round 8’s start proved to be messy in turn one when pole sitter Paul Holden of Orlando, Fla., made contact with Tony Rivera of Oceanside, Calif., and numerous cars were involved in the incident. On the restart, Liefooghe moved out to a two-second advantage and extended his margin throughout the 18-lap contest.
Finishing out the podium in Touring Car for Round 8 was reigning TC series champion Toby Grahovec of Celina, Tex., in the No. 1 Classic BMW BMW M325iR. Rounding out the top-five in TC were Aristotle Balogh of Palo Alto, Calif., in the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR and CTMP race winner Mason Filippi of Alamo, Calif., in the No. 12 Winding Road Team TFB BMW M235iR.
“Fortunately, I was able to put down a good lap in race 1 so I stayed out of trouble on the first lap,” said Liefooghe. “It was a little bit of a dream race for me. I saw the guys behind me battling hard and I was just able to pull the gap. After that it was just managing the race. The car was really good – the Cameron Racing guys gave me an awesome car. The track is really good. It’s high tire wear, so you have to manage your tires, and that puts a lot of emphasis on the balance of the car.”
Powell, the veteran from Orlando, moved up some 16 positions Saturday to win the TCA class in the No. 23 TechSport Racing Scion FR-S in a hotly-contested battle with numerous drivers.
Powell drove through the field to defeat Kenny Murillo of Santa Rosa in the No. 33 Murillo Racing Mazda Global MX-5 Cup, Matthew Fassnacht of Madison, N.J., in the No. 74 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX-5, Tom O’Gorman of Mason, Ohio, in the No. 94 Shea Racing Honda Civic Si and Craig Stanton of Yorba Linda, Calif., in the all-new DG-Spec Toyota TMG 86 Cup car.
“I don’t know what happened after the standing start,” said Powell. “It happened pretty far in front of us so we were able to put it on the binders. I knew we had a good car, and I knew we could bring it to the front if the race re-started in a reasonable amount of time which it did so it was good. It’s a pleasure to drive this car. I’ve been developing this car with TechSport Racing all year, basically from scratch. We struggled with it at first and then tested a lot. Now it’s so good that it really is a dream to drive. It’s one of the best cars that I’ve ever driven. It’s a true testament to the team’s hard work. I wasn’t in race one – we blew an engine in qualifying. Huge thanks to the team for busting their butts to be prepared and make things happen and get me back out there for the opportunity.”
O’Connell, son of four-time GT champion Johnny O’Connell from Chandler, Ariz., raced against his TechSport Racing teammate for a second time Saturday but scored the victory in the 40-minute sprint event over P.J. Groenke of Richmond Hill, Ont., Can. O’Connell drove his No. 24 TechSport Racing Chevrolet Sonic under a second quicker than Groenke’s No. 25 TechSport Racing Chevrolet Sonic at the checkered flag. Third was Jasper Drengler of Shawano, Wisc., in the No. 01 Drengler Racing Honda Fit.
“We all re-started the race in the exact same position,” said O’Connell. “Big thanks to the track crew for cleaning everything up so quickly. Those guys are the unsung heroes of the sport so big thanks to the emergency crew here. I had a great race with P.J. again just like in the first race. He is so good to race with in this TCB class. It was a fun weekend for first and second place finishes and I also wanted to thank Jason Bondurant for his assistance in my racing program. I can’t wait to go to COTA on the Labor Day weekend.”
The Touring Car races from Utah Motorsports Campus will be televised on the CBS Sports Network on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m. EDT