In 2012, the Pirelli World Challenge Championship kicked off its twenty-third consecutive season at St. Petersburg, Florida, as a support event for the IndyCar series. The season ended in late-August at Sonoma Raceway. In between these two weekends, there were races held at Long Beach, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Miller Motorsports Park, Detroit, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The series biggest news was the introduction of a fourth category called ‘Touring Car B-Spec.’ This was not a renaming or realignment of an existing class but a new group with new cars. The four 2012 Pirelli World Challenge series divisions are:

  • Grand Touring (GT) – This group includes the series quickest cars: Porsche 911 GT3, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Cadillac CTS-V.R, Nissan GT-R and Volvo S60. The preparation rules remain unchanged from the previous year. These vehicles produce more than 450-horsepower.
  • Grand Touring Sport (GTS) – The cars in this division are not permitted the same level of preparation as the GT category. The class is a mix of vehicles that could be best described as sports cars or sports sedans. Vehicles eligible to compete in GTS include the SCCA Club Racing Touring 2 cars and some FIA GT4 models. Makes competing in this group include the Ford Mustang, Porsche Cayman, Nissan 370Z, Chevrolet Camaro, Kia Optima and Acura TSX.
  • Touring Car (TC) – The preparation of the Touring Cars is closely aligned with the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner category and the Sports Car Club of America’s Improved Touring classes. The wide range of vehicles homologated for this class means that power output ranges from 180 to 260-horsepower. There is also a significant variation in drivetrain configurations – front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive. Makes competing in the category include the Volvo C30, Mazda RX-8, Honda Civic Si, Mazda Speed 3, Volkswagen Jetta and Golf.
  • Touring Car B (TCB) – World Challenge’s newest class was implemented to allow competitors to compete at the professional level in cost-efficient cars. To keep expenses down, modifications are limited to performance spring and shock packages offered by the manufacturers. Makes competing in TCB are the Kia Rio, Honda Fit, Mazda 2, Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper.

GT and GTS classes are combined to race in 50-minute timed events. The TCB cars run two 25-minute races with a 15-minute break in between to allow crews to make minor adjustments. The following day there is a longer 40-minute race.

The final round of the 2012 World Challenge Championship was held at Sonoma Raceway. Competitors (16-GT entries and 16-GTS entries) would race for 50-minutes around the twelve-turn road course.

The first lap and final race of the 2012 World Challenge season for GT and GTS class cars. Leading the way into Sonoma’s turn nine is pole-sitter Alex Figge driving a Volvo S60 entered by K-Pax Racing. Behind Figge is his teammate Randy Pobst in the second Volvo and the Cadillac CTS-V.Rs of Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim.
Alex Figge earned his first World Challenge pole position of the 2012 season. The driver of the K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 was joined on the front row by his teammate Randy Pobst. The weekend only got better for Figge as he led flag to flag despite a late race challenge from Andy Pilgrim in a Cadillac. This was his first World Challenge win of the season and the second of his career.
Earning his first pole position in World Challenge competition was Jack Baldwin. The driver of the GTS class Porsche Cayman S had last raced at Sonoma 20-years ago and won the Trans-Am title at the event. Baldwin took the GTS lead at the drop of the green flag and held the position until lap-14 when a flat tire eliminated any chance of a victory. At the checkered flag, he was twelfth in GTS and twenty-ninth overall.
Qualifying fourth in the season finale was Andy Pilgrim, driving the No. 8 Cadillac CTS-V.R. During the race, Pilgrim was able to pass his teammate Johnny O’Connell and took second on lap-20 with a move on Volvo driver Randy Pobst. He closed the gap on Figge and was 1.131-seconds behind the winner at the checkered flag. Pilgrim’s runner-up position allowed him to finish second in the Driver’s Championship.
Second fastest qualifier in the GTS category was Mark Wilkins driving a Kia Optima entered by Kia Motors America. However, Wilkins and his teammate, World Challenge veteran Michael Galati who started fifth in GTS were never a threat for the victory. Wilkins was fourth at the checkered flag and Galati finished behind him in fifth.
GTS points leader and multi-time World Challenge Champion Peter Cunningham started from the fourth grid position. At the green flag, Cunningham jumped to second in class but was passed by eventual winner Andy Lee. However, Jack Baldwin’s misfortune moved him back into the runner-up position. A second place finish at the checkered flag earned Cunningham the 2012 GTS Driver’s Championship – his tenth in SCCA Pro Racing competition.
Making it an all Volvo front row was Randy Pobst in the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60. Pobst held second overall until he was passed by fourth fastest qualifier Andy Pilgrim on lap-20. From there Pobst held his position and earned the final spot on the GT podium.
Rookie, Andy Lee, started from the third grid position in the GTS class. By lap-8, Lee had moved around Peter Cunningham who was running second. Shortly after that, he passed GTS race leader, Jack Baldwin in turn-five. After Baldwin had suffered a flat tire it was clear sailing for Lee – he won the GTS category by a margin of 9.930-seconds. This was Lee’s fourth class victory of the season.
Justin Bell qualified the No. 50 eBay Motors sponsored Ford Mustang Boss 302S twelfth in the GTS category. However, Bell had a spectacular race and improved eight positions during which earned in the Sunoco Hard Charger Award. On the final lap, he passed Mark Wilkins in a Kia Optima to take third in GTS.
Starting behind the two Volvos was the 2012 World Challenge GT Champion, Johnny O’Connell, in a Cadillac CTS-V.R. O’Connell had secured the title at the previous round in Mid-Ohio. During the race, he was passed by his teammate Andy Pilgrim and on lap-18 Lawson Aschenbach went by which relegated him to a fifth place finish. The efforts of O’Connell and Pilgrim’s during the season also won Cadillac the Manufacturer’s Championship.
The overall and GT class podium at the 2012 World Challenge finale. To the left is the runner-up from Cadillac Racing - Andy Pilgrim. And, on the right is the driver of the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 – Randy Pobst. In the center, taking his first win the season is Alex Figge.

1GTAlex FiggeVolvo S6026-
2GTAndy PilgrimCadillac CTS-V.R26-
3GTRandy PobstVolvo S6026-
4GTLawson AschenbachPorsche 911 GT326-
5GTJohnny O'ConnellCadillac CTS-V.R26-
6GTBrett SandbergPorsche 911 GT326-
7GTBrandon DavisPorsche 911 GT326-
8GTMichael HedlundPorsche 911 GT326-
9GTJeff CourtneyPorsche GT3 Cup26-
10GTAnders HainerAudi R826-
11GTDavid WelchFerrari F430GT26-
12GTTony GaplesChevrolet Corvette26-
13GTMike SkeenNissan GTR26-
14GTFred RobertsDodge Viper26-
15GTCraig StantonMercedes Benz AMG26-
16GTPatrick LindseyChevrolet Corvette17Mechanical
17GTBrent HoldenPorsche 911 GT30Did Not Start
18GTSAndy LeeChevrolet Camaro25-
19GTSPeter CunninghamAcura TSX25-
20GTSJustin BellFord Mustang Boss 302S25-
21GTSMark WilkinsKia Optima25-
22GTSMichael GalatiKia Optima25-
23GTSLou GigliottiChevrolet Camaro25-
24GTSRic BusheyNissan 370Z25-
25GTSHarry CurtinChevrolet Camaro25-
26GTSAlec UdellFord Mustang Boss 302R25-
27GTSBryan HeitkotterNissan 370Z25-
28GTSDon IstookAudi TT RS25-
29GTSJack BaldwinPorsche Cayman S25-
30GTSVafa KordestaniMaserati Trofeo GranSport24-
31GTSRoger MillerFord Mustang Boss 302S6Accident
32GTSBrad AdamsFord Mustang FR500 C6Accident
33GTSNick EsayianAcura TSX0Accident
34GTSBrian KleemanNissan 370Z0Did Not Start
35GTSBill ZieglerPontiac Solstice0Did Not Start

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