In 2013, the Pirelli World Challenge Championship kicked off its twenty-fourth consecutive season at St. Petersburg, Florida, in March as a support event for the IndyCar series. The season ended the first weekend in October at the Grand Prix of Houston. In between these two events, there were races at Long Beach, Circuit of the Americas, Detroit, Lime Rock, Toronto, Mid-Ohio and Sonoma Raceway.

The series launched the Touring Car B-Spec category in 2012 and it was proving popular as entries were showing strong growth. There were four classes this season:

  • Grand Touring (GT) – This group includes the series quickest cars: Porsche 911 GT3, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Cadillac CTS-V.R, Nissan GTR, Audi R8 LMS 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 class are not permitted the same level of preparation as the GT category. The category is a mix of cars that could be best described as sports cars or sports sedans. Vehicles eligible to compete in GTS include SCCA Club Racing Touring 2 cars and some FIA GT4 cars. Makes competing in this category include the Ford Mustang, Porsche Cayman S, Chevrolet Camaro, Kia Optima and Acura TSX.
  • Touring Car (TC) – The preparation of the Touring Cars is closely aligned with the Grand-Am Cup and the Sports Car Club of America’s Improved Touring classes. The wide range of vehicles homologated for this category means that power output ranges from 180 to 260-horsepower. Also, there is significant variation in drivetrain configurations – front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. Makes competing in the category include the Honda Civic Si, Mazdaspeed3, 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.

The final two races of the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge season for the Touring Car category were conducted in Houston, Texas at the Reliant/NRG Park complex. Drivers would compete in two twenty-five-minute races around the ten-turn 1.683-mile temporary street circuit.

Issues with the layout resulting in time constraints forced World Challenge series officials to cancel the qualifying session for round thirteen and set the grid based on driver points.

Entering the finale, Ryan Winchester’s season included eleven podium finishes in twelve starts, of which five were victories. To clinch the championship, the driver of the No. 72 Compass360 Honda Civic Si simply had to start round thirteen in Houston. Winchester started on the pole based on his points but finished second to his teammate, Brett Sandberg. He claimed his sixth win of 2013 in the finale.
First lap contact in round thirteen took the Touring Car B championship contenders, Robbie Davis and Ernie Francis, Jr out of the race. The driver benefitting the most from the incident was the Rookie, Tyler Palmer. Palmer, driving the No. 24 Mini Cooper started fifth in race one and on lap-11, he passed Joel Lipperini for the victory. He started on the class pole in the finale and led flag-to-flag for his second victory of the season.
Brett Sandberg entered the final weekend of 2013 second in the Touring Car standing and with very little hope of passing the points leader, Ryan Winchester. Sandberg started the first race at Houston on the outside of the front row – next to Winchester. After losing places to Winchester and Michael Cooper, he fought back and made the winning pass on lap-9. In the finale, Sandberg retired after an incident of lap-6.
Another beneficiary of the first lap contact between Ernie Francis, Jr and Robbie Davis was Joel Lipperini. After the incident, Lipperini moved the No. 81 RaceLabz Honda Fit into first place after starting third. Unfortunately, he was unable to hold-off Tyler Palmer and finished second. In round fourteen, Lipperini chased Palmer for another runner-up result. The weekend’s results moved him from third to second in the final standings.
The final Touring Car podium for the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge series. In the center is the winner, Ryan Winchester. Winchester finished on the rostrum thirteen times in fourteen attempts and racked up six victories. Finishing second and standing on the left is Remo Ruscitti. Ruscitti would place third in the final standings. Helping Compass360 Racing sweep the podium is the third-place finisher, Michael DiMeo.
Round thirteen contact in the corner two chicane on lap-1 caused the No. 37 MINI USA Mini Cooper of Robbie Davis to spin and send the Mazda 2 of the point’s leader, Ernie Francis, Jr into the wall. Second-place starter Davis would recover and finish eighth. He finished seventh in the finale and moved from second in the title chase to first and secured the Touring Car B crown by thirty-markers over Joel Lipperini.
Remo Ruscitti had a solid first season in the Pirelli World Challenge series. Driving the No. 71 Honda Civic Si, Ruscitti, would finish on the podium eight times. No victories, but he was the runner-up on three occasions. In round thirteen, he started third but finished a distant eighth. Ruscitti had better luck in the finale. He charged through the field, capturing a runner-up result and earned the Rookie of the Year title.
The title aspirations for the Touring Car B points leader, Ernie Francis, Jr., came to an end on the first lap of round thirteen. An incident at the chicane caused the other championship contender, Robbie Davis, to spin and knock Francis, Jr. into the wall – he retired on the spot. He drove his father’s car in the finale and started eighteenth. Francis, Jr. would battle to an eighth-place result and finish third in the final standings.
It was a difficult season for the defending Touring Car titleholder, Michael Cooper. His chances of repeating as champion were highly unlikely as he was not entered in the first three rounds. However, Cooper managed to sweep the weekends at Toronto and Mid-Ohio. In the penultimate race, he started fourth and finished third. Cooper’s season ended with a brake failure on lap-6, which also took out Brett Sandberg.
The contact between Robbie Davis and Ernie Francis, Jr in round 13 helped the rest of the Touring Car B field. Ernie Francis, Sr started fourth in the penultimate event driving the No. 2 Hydraulic Jeans Mazda 2 and earned the final position on the class podium. With his son still having a shot at the title, senior gave up his seat in favour of his son. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work and junior failed to win the championship.
Michael DiMeo made his 2013 Pirelli World Challenge debut in the final weekend of the season. With the grid for round thirteen being set by driver points, DiMeo started at the rear of the Touring Car grid in ninth place. During the penultimate contest, he charged through the field and finished in fourth place. In round fourteen, he inherited the final spot on the podium, when Michael Cooper and Brett Sandberg retired.
Former Canadian Touring Car Championship competitor, PJ Groenke, joined the Pirelli World Challenge series for the 2013 season. Groenke joined Shea Racing competing in the No. 66 Honda Fit. To date, his best result was a fifth place in Toronto. In round fourteen at Houston, Groenke went one better and finished fourth. In the finale, he started third and claimed his first World Challenge podium.
The top three Touring Car B competitors in round thirteen are joined on the podium by representatives from the title sponsor, Pirelli Tires. In the center is the winner, Kyle Palmer. This was the rookie’s first series victory. On the left side is the runner-up, Joel Lipperini, who would finish second in the championship. Occupying the final position on the rostrum is the third-place finisher, Ernie Francis, Sr.

12TCBrett SandbergHonda Civic Si15
21TCRyan WinchesterHonda Civic Si15
34TCMichael CooperMazda 315
49TCMichael DiMeoHonda Civic Si15
58TCSebastian LandyMazda Miata15
65TCFred EmichVolkswagen Jetta GLI15
77TCBrad AdamsMazda MX-515
83TCRemo RuscittiHonda Civic Si15
96TCRay MasonHonda Civic Si7
15TCBTyler PalmerMini Cooper14
23TCBJoel LipperiniHonda Fit14
34TCBErnie FrancisMazda 214
47TCBP J GroenkeHonda Fit14
513TCBJonathan BakerHonda Fit14
68TCBShea HolbrookHonda Fit14
714TCBJohan SchwartzHonda Fit14
82TCBRobbie DavisMini Cooper14
912TCBJim ClevelandFiat 50014
1017TCBAndrei KiselMini Cooper14
1120TCBChris SneedMini Cooper14
1215TCBBrian FowlerFord Fiesta14
1310TCBFernando SeferlisHonda Fit14
1411TCBJack MurrayFiat 50014
1518TCBCharles PaquinMazda 214
1619TCBJames WilsonMazda 214
1716TCBSteve TaakeMazda 214
189TCBChris CapaldiFord Fiesta12
196TCBDavid AlejandroMazda 28
201TCBErnie Francis Jr.Mazda 20

12TCRyan WinchesterHonda Civic Si14
28TCRemo RuscittiHonda Civic Si14
34TCMichael DiMeoHonda Civic Si14
46TCFred EmichVolkswagen Jetta GLI14
55TCSebastian LandyMazda Miata14
67TCBrad AdamsMazda MX-514
73TCMichael CooperMazda 36
81TCBrett SandbergHonda Civic Si6
DNS-TCRay MasonHonda Civic SiDid Not Start
11TCBTyler PalmerMini Cooper14
22TCBJoel LipperiniHonda Fit14
33TCBP J GroenkeHonda Fit14
46TCBJohan SchwartzHonda Fit14
54TCBJonathan BakerHonda Fit14
65TCBShea HolbrookHonda Fit14
77TCBRobbie DavisMini Cooper14
818TCBErnie Francis Jr.Mazda 214
910TCBChris SneedMini Cooper14
108TCBJim ClevelandFiat 50014
1111TCBBrian FowlerFord Fiesta14
1212TCBFernando SeferlisHonda Fit14
1314TCBCharles PaquinMazda 214
1416TCBSteve TaakeMazda 214
1513TCBJack MurrayFiat 50014
1615TCBJames WilsonMazda 214
DNS9TCBAndrei KiselMini CooperDid Not Start
DNS17TCBChris CapaldiFord FiestaDid Not Start
DNS19TCBDavid AlejandroMazda 2Did Not Start

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