Variety in Motion: The Cars of Pirelli World Challenge

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IndyCar is pretty cool. Not only do some of the best open-wheel drivers in the world race their Dallara DW12’s on ovals at over 230 MPH (that’s 370+ Km/h, if anyone from the rest of the world is reading this), they also bump it out over rough street circuits and even do some old fashioned road course racing, like here at Sonoma.

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To me, there’s one big problem with IndyCar. No, it’s not the racing. The drivers are not afraid to go for it.

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It’s the fact that all the cars are the same. Of course, that has its benefits: there are thirteen teams (Formula One has eleven) running anywhere from one to four cars for the season.

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Although spec series like IndyCar produce great racing due to the relative equality of machinery, I still think it’s a lot more interesting when you have different cars battling it out on the track. Pirelli World Challenge is an excellent example of a series that manages to have a great disparity of makes and great racing action.

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Don’t you want to see a Bentley Continental battling a Ford Mustang? By the way, that’s Jack Roush, Jr. at the helm of the Roush Mustang.

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Speaking of odd choices, how about a Kia Optima? There was a pair of them in this race, running an amazing amount of rear camber.

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Given the choice, it would be natural to pick an Italian supercar like the venerable Lamborghini Gallardo. The Audi BS in the interior is stripped out, and you’re left with a screaming V10 and awesome rear louvers. How about that racecar suspension and aero, too?

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Of course, if you like Italian horses, why not go with the most famous prancing horse of them all? Anthony Lazzaro won Race 2 driving the #61 Ferrari 458 Italia you see here.

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Speaking of winners, Mike Skeen in the #2 Audi R8–seen here battling with Johnny O’Connell in the #3 Cadillac CTS-V–was the winner of Race 1.

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Another entry in the supercar wars is McLaren, of course.

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However, as much as I love those, I’m more intrigued by the weird side of the spectrum, like the TLX. Wait, what is up with that thing..?

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Damn. Apparently the driver (Peter Cunningham) stalled the car when the green flag (light?) dropped, and got rear-ended. Bummer.

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How about the “Dat Dog” Mustang? Its pilot Brad Adams clearly decided that the brown stuff was part of the track too.

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Other drivers took a slightly more cautious approach to the chicane, though. Thank goodness they widened that section (note the fresh tarmac at the second apex).

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I really liked the C6 Corvette. How long until there’s a C7 in this class?

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So cool seeing the big Viper out there.

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Although the sharp end of the grid is great, there are plenty of entrants down the field. I don’t care that Brian Kleeman finished 36th and 32nd in the two races, respectively; his 370Z still looked great doing so.

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Another cool treat is seeing Porsche’s black sheep, the Cayman, getting some motorsports love.

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t directly compete with the 911. Like many, I’ve always wondered what the ultimate iteration of a Cayman could be–the 911 GT3 RS treatment on a Cayman, in other words. Conspiracy theorists has been suggesting for years that Porsche holds back on the MR platform so as not to overstep the 911. Well, now we can finally look at the 918–which carries a naturally-aspirated V8 mounted amidships–and probably admit that they’re right.

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Seeing ZL1’s battling on track is pretty cool too–these are rare as hen’s teeth in the wild, at least in my area.

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If you’re a Mustang fan, you’d certainly have plenty to lust over in this series.

Anyway, that’s it for all the different cars, but there are still a few more pics I want to share. Dean Martin in the #50 Mustang had a very, very rough weekend.

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In the first race, tire failure caused some sparky issues with the front end.

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In the second race, tire failure caused a collision with a wall, which made quite a scene. Luckily, although he didn’t walk away, he was examined and immediately released from the infield care center.

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I thought back to the times when a simple waved yellow flag would have sufficed for such an incident. As it happened, the scene was just too much of a mess, and the race ended under yellow; quite a sad anti-climax to such an exciting day of racing.

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That Bentley, though!

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Alright. That’s the end of my coverage for this event. As always, if you want to see more, just click the pictures to go to Flickr and explore. Cheers.

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