In 2004, the World Challenge series entered its fifteenth season. For the sixth consecutive year, Speed Channel was the primary sponsor.
As evidenced by the growth of the series, the Sports Car Club of America had developed a successful format that attracted competitors and fans.
Race weekends included two standing start fifty-minute races – one for the Grand Touring class and another for the Touring Cars.
To prevent any driver/car combination from dominating the class and ensuring tight competition, the R.E.W.A.R.D.S. System was implemented. Introduced in 1995, R.E.W.A.R.D.S. is the acronym for ‘Rewarding of Equalizing Weight Assigned to Reduce Driver Sensitivity.' This weight equalization rule adds or removes ballast from a car based on the finishing position of a driver.
There were nine-race weekends during the 2004 season with a double-header events for each class. Touring Cars would race Saturday and Sunday at Infineon Raceway and the Grand Touring competitors would have a similar format at Mosport International Raceway. The opening round was in March at Sebring International Raceway, Florida, followed by a two-month break before teams travelled to Lime Rock Park. The third race weekend of the year was at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In July, the teams trekked west for races at Infineon. Competitors stayed on the west coast for races at Portland International Raceway. Next, the championship made its only Canadian stop at Mosport. Returning south of the border, the first stop was Road America. The penultimate round was held at Road Atlanta and the series finale took place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Round seven of the 2004 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship was held at Mosport International Raceway. Twenty-nine Touring Car drivers would compete in a fifty-minute race around the ten-turn 2.459-mile road course.
|The Touring Car field is lined up for the start of round seven at Mosport International Raceway. On the pole, for the first time, this season is Peter Cunningham driving the No. 4 NISMO sponsored Nissan Sentra SE-R. Sharing the front row with Cunningham is the series three-time champion, Pierre Kleinubing, in an Acura TSX with support from A-SPEC and RealTime Racing. The second row is occupied by James Clay and Matt Plumb.|
|Rookie, Matt Plumb scored his second World Challenge Touring Car victory at Mosport International Raceway. Plumb qualified fourth quickest in the RealTime Racing prepared Acura TSX. He was able to escape the opening lap melee and chased the BMW of James Sofronas. On lap-26 of 28, the leader, Sofronas, made an error exiting Moss corner which allowed Plumb to slip past and collect the win.|
|Finishing an amazing second was Charles Espenlaub. Espenlaub was driving the No. 97 Mazda Protégé ES started twenty-eighth in the twenty-nine-car field. He avoided the corner one incident and advanced eighteen positions on lap-1, which earned him the B&M Holeshot Award. Espenlaub was also recognized for passing twenty cars during the contest (Sunoco Hard Charger Award) and the fastest race lap (UrbanRacer.com Hot Lap).|
|The point’s leader, Bill Auberlen, also benefitted from the starting line accident. In the closing stages of the contest, he was in fourth place after starting ninth. On lap-26, the race leader, James Sofronas, made an error that allowed Matt Plumb, Charles Espenlaub and Auberlen to gain a position. He held on to third place and increased his lead in the championship to sixteen-markers over Nic Jonsson.|
|Peter Cunningham won his first Touring Car pole position of the season in the NISMO / RealTime Racing Nissan Sentra SE-R. Unfortunately, it ‘went downhill’ during the race. At the start, the third-fastest qualifier, James Clay, tried to pass Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing. There was contact between the three. Cunningham was able to return to the pits for repairs but finished two laps behind the leaders in twenty-third place.|
|It appeared that World Challenge veteran, James Sofronas, was going to win his first series race. Sofronas qualified seventh fastest driving the Tecmark Corporation BMW 325Ci and took advantage of the opening lap carnage to grab the lead. He held on to the top spot until lap-26 when a mistake caused him to be ‘freight trained’ by Matt Plumb, Charles Espenlaub and Bill Auberlen. Sofronas would finish fourth.|
|Pierre Kleinubing’s chances of winning a fourth Touring Car championship received a significant setback at Mosport International Raceway. After qualifying, Kleinubing had reason to be confident as his RealTime Racing Acura TSX would start second. Unfortunately, contact between himself and the Nissan of Peter Cunningham and James Clay eliminated him from the race. Kleinubing did not make it beyond the first turn.|
|Nic Jonsson was feeling the effects of his early-season success. The weight equalization rule (R.E.W.A.R.D.S.) meant that his BMW 325Ci was carrying an extra 250-pounds of ballast. Jonsson was gridded sixth. He benefitted very little from the faster qualifiers who were eliminated on the opening lap. At the checkered flag, Jonsson had only improved one position but maintained his second place in the title chase.|
|The round seven podium for the Speed World Challenge Touring Car podium at Mosport International Raceway. On the left is the runner-up, Charles Espenlaub, who delivered his best series result to date. Standing on the right side is the defending series champion and current point’s leader, Bill Auberlen. Between these two is the winner, Matt Plumb. This was Plumb’s second win of 2004.|
|1||4||Matt Plumb||Acura TSX||28||-|
|2||28||Charles Espenlaub||Mazda Protege ES||28||-|
|3||9||Bill Auberlen||BMW 325i||28||-|
|4||7||James Sofronas||BMW 325Ci||28||-|
|5||6||Nic Jonsson||BMW 325Ci||28||-|
|6||16||Matt Richmond||BMW 325i||28||-|
|7||8||Justin Marks||BMW 325i||28||-|
|8||15||Shauna Marinus||Mazda Protege ES||28||-|
|9||13||Chip Herr||Mazda Protege ES||28||-|
|10||12||Bob Stretch||BMW 325Ci||28||-|
|11||11||Ken Murillo||BMW 325Ci||28||-|
|12||17||Brandon Davis||Acura RSX||28||-|
|13||19||Fred Pignataro||BMW 328is||28||-|
|14||20||Jim Osborn||BMW 325Ci||28||-|
|15||18||Seth Neiman||BMW 325Ci||28||-|
|16||24||Nick Esayian||Acura RSX||28||-|
|17||22||Phil Parlato||BMW 325i||28||-|
|18||26||Hugh Stewart||BMW 325||28||-|
|19||25||Peter Schwartzott||Acura RSX||27||-|
|20||29||Scott Bradley||Mazda Protege ES||27||-|
|21||27||Kird Azemar||BMW 325||27||-|
|22||14||Dino Crescentini||BMW 325i||27||-|
|23||1||Peter Cunningham||Nissan Sentra SE-R||25||-|
|24||10||Memo Gidley||Ford Focus||24||Drive Shaft|
|25||23||Jocelyn Hebert||Acura Integra Type R||18||Mechanical|
|26||21||Leo Capaldi||Ford Focus||17||Mechanical|
|27||5||Jeff Altenburg||Mazda Protege ES||2||Accident|
|28||3||James Clay||BMW 325i||0||Accident|
|29||2||Pierre Kleinubing||Acura TSX||0||Accident|
|-||-||Nick Majors||Nissan Sentra SE-R||0||Withdrawn|
|-||-||Seth Thomas||BMW 325i||0||Withdrawn|
|-||-||Scott Fredricksen||Mazda Protege ES||0||Withdrawn|
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