2009 was a milestone year for the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Pro Racing Speed World Challenge series. The championship was now in its 20th consecutive season. The SCCA had developed a successful format that attracted competitors and fans. But the recession of 2008 was impacting car counts.

To add some excitement to qualifying, the series organizers introduced the Fast Five Coin Toss. A World Challenge official flipped a coin and the fastest qualifier would have to call, heads or tails. If they guessed correctly, the top five would line-up as they qualified. If not, the starting order would be inverted for the five quickest drivers.

Most race weekends included two standing start races with a time limit of 50-minutes. One event for the Grand Touring (GT) class and another for the Touring Cars (TC).

  • Grand Touring (GT) – The GT class rules accommodated a broad range of vehicles from different manufacturers. Engine displacements ranged from the 2.5-liter turbocharged Volvo S60 to the Dodge Viper with an 8.3-liter V10 motor. While most of the cars were rear-wheel drive, the series also permitted all-wheel-drive. A majority of the competitors raced a Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 GT3 or Dodge Viper.

  • Touring Car (TC) – The Touring Cars were limited to an engine displacement of 2.8-liters. Vehicles originally equipped with turbocharged or supercharged motors were also homologated for the series. The class was split predominantly between front-wheel-drive cars from Acura, Honda, and Mazda and the rear wheel drives such as the BMW 328i.

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 added or removed ballast from a car based on the finishing position of a driver. The maximum amount of weight that could be removed from a vehicle was 100-pounds. And, no more than 200-pounds could be added to a GT class car and 150-pounds to a Touring Car.

During the 2009 season, there were ten-races for each category. The Touring cars did not compete at Long Beach. However, they raced twice at Mosport Park. As in 2008, the opening round was in March at Sebring, Florida and the championship ended in October at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California.

Round six of the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge season was held at the Autobahn Country Club. Twelve Touring Car competitors raced on the nineteen-turn 3.531-mile road course.

The points leader, Jason Saini, qualified on the pole for round six of the 2009 World Challenge series at the Autobahn Country Club. The driver of the No. 74 Mazdaspeed / Stoptech / ProPart Mazda 6 led the contest flag-to-flag. This was Saini’s second victory of 2009 and his third in the Touring Car class. More importantly, he extended the championship gap over Pierre Kleinubing to fifty-two markers.
Finishing in the runner-up position at the Autobahn Country Club was the reigning Touring Car champion, Peter Cunningham. Cunningham driving the No. 1 RealTime Racing / Red Line Oil Acura TSX qualified fourth fastest. Early in the contest, he passed his teammate, Kuno Wittmer, for third place. On the restart, after the full-course, Cunningham slipped by Eric Foss and maintained the second position to the finish.
At Watkins Glen International, title contender, Pierre Kleinubing, closed to with three-points of the championship leader, Jason Saini. The five-time series title holder qualified sixth fastest but had moved up to fourth place by the lap-13 full-course caution. On the restart, Kleinibing made contact with Eric Foss. At the checker, he was in third place but was fined ten drivers points and $500 for his move on Foss.
BimmerWorld team owner, James Clay, won the weekend’s Sunoco Hard Charger award. Clay was ninth fastest at the end of the qualifying session driving the No. 36 GearWrench sponsored BMW 328i. During the event, he moved up the race order. By the conclusion of the race, Clay had advanced four positions to finish in the fifth spot. To date, this was his best result of the 2009 season.
The No. 73 Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6 was driven by the series veteran, Charles Espenlaub. The highlights of Espenlaub’s season thus far was one front row start and two podium finishes, one of which was a runner-up result at Mosport International Raceway. At the Autobahn Country Club, he qualified fifth fastest. An incident between his teammate, Eric Foss and Pierre Kleinubing allowed him to inherit a fourth-place finish.
The round six podium for the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Touring Car category at the Autobahn Country Club. In the center is the winner and current class points leader, Jason Saini. Standing on the right side of the rostrum is the runner-up, Peter Cunningham. Completing the podium is Cunningham’s teammate and the five-time series champion, Pierre Kleinubing.

11Jason SainiMazda 617-
24Peter CunninghamAcura TSX17-
36Pierre KleinubingAcura TSX17-
45Charles EspenlaubMazda 617-
59James ClayBMW 328i17-
62Eric FossMazda 617-
710Nick EsayianBMW 328i17-
83Kuno WittmerAcura TSX17-
911Joel WeinbergerAcura TSX17-
1012Robert RothAcura TSX17-
118Seth ThomasBMW 328i11Mechanical
127Andrew AquilanteSubaru WRX11Mechanical

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