In 2013, the 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 Americas, Detroit, Lime Rock, Toronto, Mid-Ohio and Sonoma Raceway.

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

  • Grand Touring (GT) – This group included 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 remained unchanged from the previous year. These vehicles produced 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 class is a mix of cars that would 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 was closely aligned with Grand Am Cup and the Sports Car Club of America’s Improved Touring classes. The wide range of vehicles homologated for this category meant that power output ranged from 180 to 260-horsepower. Also, there was significant variation in drivetrain configurations – front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. Makes competing in the category included 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 were limited to performance spring and shock packages offered by the manufacturers. Makes competing in TCB were the Kia Rio, Honda Fit, Mazda 2, Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper.

Rounds nine and ten of the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge took place at Mid-Ohio. Thirty-four Touring Car and Touring Car B drivers competed in two forty-minute races around the thirteen-turn 2.258-mile road course.

The Touring Car field sits in Mid-Ohio’s pit-line waiting for the start of Saturday’s first race. On the pole, is the No. 1 Mazdaspeed 3 of defending champion, Michael Cooper. Sharing the front row with Cooper is the Compass 360 Honda Civic Si driven by Brett Sandberg. Thirteen Touring Cars and twenty Touring Car B entries would compete in round nine.
TCB point’s leader, Ernie Francis Jr. started on the pole for the weekend’s first race. He lost the lead to fourth place qualifier, Joel Lipperini but towards the end of the event, Francis moved back into first and won the race. His performance earned him the’ Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race’ award. In the second contest, Francis was involved in an incident that left him stuck in a gravel trap for four laps – he finished eighteenth.
Qualifying third in the Touring Car class for round nine was Tristan Herbert driver of the No. 33 Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Herbert led laps 8 to 11 but was overtaken by the Mazda of the eventual winner, Michael Cooper. In the following race, Herbert shared the front row with the pole-sitter, Cooper. During the contest, he was passed on lap-9 by the Honda of Ryan Winchester. Herbert captured the final spot on the podium.
Three-time SCCA Amateur National Champion, Joel Lipperini drove the No. 81 Honda Fit. Lipperini made a successful transition to professional racing – he notched up victories at Lime Rock and Toronto. In round nine, he qualified fourth and finished third. The weekend’s second contest did not go as well. Lipperini was involved in the first lap incident which damaged his car but he was able to salvage a fourth place.
The 2013 Touring Car B podium for round nine at Mid-Ohio. On the top step is Ernie Francis Jr., the class point’s leader – this was his fifth class win of the season. Taking the runner-up spot was Francis’ father Ernie Sr. The final position on the rostrum belonged to Joel Lipperini who was third in the Touring Car B title chase.
In the weekend’s first race, the Touring Car pole-sitter, Michael Cooper battled with Tristan Herbert. Cooper led the first seven laps in the Atlanta Motorsports Mazdaspeed 3 until he was passed by Herbert. Cooper retook the lead on lap-12 and won round nine. Cooper’s efforts earned him the ‘Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race’ award. In the day’s second race, he led flag-to-flag for his fourth consecutive victory of 2013.
Rookie, Tyler Palmer drove the Black Forest Porsche/Discount Tire/Mobil One sponsored Mini Cooper. Palmer earned the ‘Sunoco Hard Charger’ award for his performance in round nine – he was gridded sixth and finished fourth. In the next race, Palmer started fourth and was just 0.286-seconds behind the winner, Robbie Davis at the conclusion of the event. This was Palmer’s fourth podium in five World Challenge starts.
On the first lap of round ten, there was a major incident in the ‘Esses’. Joel Lipperini was hit from behind which caused him to make contact with the pole-sitter, Ernie Francis Jr. The impact knocked Francis into the gravel trap. The mishap slowed the field which caused a chain-reaction accident. Other competitors involved in the first lap calamity included P.J. Groenke, Peter Schwartzott Jr., Jim Cleveland and Jonathan Baker.
One of the victims of the first lap incident in round ten was Peter Schwartzott Jr. Schwartzott was in the middle of the pack when all the action occurred. Despite the appearance of the sponsored Chevrolet Sonic, he was able to continue and finished where he started – fourteenth. In the weekend’s first race, Schwartzott was fourteenth at the checkered flag.
The Touring Car title was coming down to a battle between Compass 360 teammates – Ryan Winchester and Brett Sandberg. Sandberg drove the No. 70 Honda Civic Si with sponsorship from and HPD. For race one, he was gridded on the front row with pole-sitter, Michael Cooper. During the contest, Sandberg was passed by Tristan Herbert and finished third. In the second event, he finished fourth after starting third.
Ernie Francis drove the Hydraulic Jeans Mazda 2. Francis wasn’t delivering the same performance as his son but had some good results – third place finishes at Austin and Toronto. At Mid-Ohio, he would score his best finish to date. Francis was gridded third for round nine and at the checkered flag took the runner-up position. In the weekend’s last event, he started on the outside of the front row but dropped to a sixth place finish.
Robbie Davis benefited from Ernie Francis Jr’s bad luck. Before the Mid-Ohio event, Davis trailed Francis in the point standings by thirty-eight-markers. The driver of the No. 37 MINI USA Mini Cooper finished seventh in the weekend’s first contest after starting fifth. Francis’ lead shrunk to just two points in round ten when Davis was able to score a victory from seventh on the grid.
David Rosenblum was a World Challenge regular in the ‘90s. Rosenblum made his Touring Car B start in round four at Lime Rock Park. He scored two-fourths and a seventh. Rosenblum would do better at Mid-Ohio. He qualified and finished tenth in race one. In the second contest, Rosenblum was gridded tenth but passed a number of competitors and captured the final spot on the podium. His drive earned him the ‘Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race’ award.
Touring Car points leader, Ryan Winchester drove the No. 72 Compass 360 prepared Honda Civic Si. Winchester was gridded fourth for Saturday’s first contest but he was passed by his teammate, Remo Ruscitti and finished fifth. In the final event of the weekend, he started fifth but drove a great race and finished second. Entering Sonoma, Winchester would lead Brett Sandberg by 231-points.
The 2013 round ten Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car podium. In the center, scoring his fourth consecutive victory of the season is Michael Cooper. On the right side of the podium is the runner-up and points leader, Ryan Winchester. The final spot on the rostrum is occupied by Tristan Herbert.

11TCMichael CooperMazda 316
23TCTristan HerbertVolkswagen Jetta GLI16
32TCBrett SandbergHonda Civic Si16
45TCRemo RuscittiHonda Civic Si16
54TCRyan WinchesterHonda Civic Si16
69TCJon MillerHonda Civic Si16
77TCRay MasonHonda Civic Si16
86TCFred EmichVolkswagen Jetta GLI16
98TCSarah CattaneoHonda Civic Si16
1011TCRussell SmithKia Forte Koup16
1112TCBob RothHonda Civic16
1210TCNic JonssonKia Forte KoupMechanical
1313TCPatrick GallagherMazda MX-5Mechanical
114TCBErnie Francis Jr.Mazda 215
215TCBErnie FrancisMazda 215
317TCBJoel LipperiniHonda Fit15
419TCBTyler PalmerMini Cooper15
515TCBPeter Schwartzott Sr.Chevrolet Sonic15
621TCBJonathan BakerHonda Fit15
718TCBRobbie DavisMini Cooper15
820TCBChase PelletierHonda Fit14
924TCBShea HolbrookHonda Fit14
1023TCBDave RosenblumFord Fiesta14
1125TCBP J GroenkeHonda Fit14
1226TCBEd MagnerMini Cooper14
1328TCBChris CapaldiFord Fiesta14
1427TCBPeter SchwartzottChevy Sonic14
1522TCBDavid AlejandroMazda 214
1630TCBJack MurrayFiat 50014
1729TCBJ.G. PasterjakFord Fiesta14
1832TCBJim ClevelandFiat 50014
1931TCBFernando SeferlisHonda Fit14
2033TCBBrian FowlerFord FiestaMechanical
2134TCBJohan SchwartzMini CooperDid Not Start

11TCMichael CooperMazda 315
25TCRyan WinchesterHonda Civic Si15
32TCTristan HerbertVolkswagen Jetta GLI15
43TCBrett SandbergHonda Civic Si15
54TCRemo RuscittiHonda Civic Si15
67TCRay MasonHonda Civic Si15
78TCFred EmichVolkswagen Jetta GLI15
89TCSarah CattaneoHonda Civic Si15
96TCJon MillerHonda Civic Si15
1010TCRussell SmithKia Forte Koup15
1111TCBranden PetersonHonda Civic15
1212TCNic JonssonKia Forte KoupDid Not Start
1313TCPatrick GallagherMazda MX-5Did Not Start
120TCBRobbie DavisMini Cooper14
217TCBTyler PalmerMini Cooper14
323TCBDave RosenblumFord Fiesta14
416TCBJoel LipperiniHonda Fit14
522TCBShea HolbrookHonda Fit14
615TCBErnie FrancisMazda 214
726TCBChris CapaldiFord Fiesta14
825TCBEd MagnerMini Cooper14
921TCBJon KrolewiczHonda Fit14
1019TCBJonathan BakerHonda Fit14
1118TCBPeter Schwartzott Sr.Chevrolet Sonic14
1224TCBP J GroenkeHonda Fit14
1332TCBFernando SeferlisHonda Fit14
1427TCBPeter SchwartzottChevy Sonic14
1530TCBJ.G. PasterjakFord Fiesta14
1628TCBDavid AlejandroMazda 212
1729TCBJack MurrayFiat 50012
1814TCBErnie Francis Jr.Mazda 211
1933TCBBrian FowlerFord FiestaMechanical
2031TCBJim ClevelandFiat 500Accident
2134TCBJohan SchwartzMini CooperDid Not Start

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