While others were bemoaning lower attendance, SCT drew its best field of the past decade. Over three days of WBC, 35 drivers competed to qualify for the Final on Day 9. The familiar faces were all in attendance, as well as a bunch of new players, but the big surprise this year was several of our older players coming back (and doing very well for themselves in the process).
The first qualifying heat’s tracks, Montreal, Hungaroring, and Catalunya, were cutthroat and fast. The second day’s tracks were Sochi, Yas Marina, and South Korea, where the tracks were tricky and a wide range of strategies were possible. The last qualifying heat tracks were Shanghai, Sepang, and COTA, where slow and steady won the race.
The Final track was a brand new one this year: Mexico City. The track itself was three wide for about half of its length with a long straight to start and end. The rest of the track had a series of tricky corners and it seemed that those who spent their wear most wisely came out on top.
The first lap saw Chris Long, Bruce Rae, and Kevin Keller run out to an early lead. Behind them Brian DeWitt, Lance Ribeiro, Christina Hancock, Scott and Jeff Cornett formed the chase pack. Doug Galullo lost ground after losing his brakes on the second corner of the race, while Bruno Passacantando, Don Tatum and Tim Mossman saved their wear slow-playing it.
The second lap saw a lot of position changes in the chase pack as everyone tried to gain advantage. Kevin fell behind as he got blocked out of a corner, Jeff force passed Lance to jump up in position, Scott spun attempting a chance roll, Brian missed a forced pass of his own which could have put him with the leaders, Christina crashed on a chance roll, while Doug made a forced pass + chance roll to keep from getting blocked.
Perhaps most important though was Bruce taking the lead from Chris at the end of the second lap. He and Chris had led throughout the second lap but by the end of it, Bruce was able to leverage his wear into a successful led exchange heading into the last lap.
The general carnage of the second lap continued in the third, and the chase pack generally self destructed as they jockeyed to catch the leaders. Bruno spun on a chance roll, Jeff followed him off the course while Doug crashed. In the end, it was Lance who managed to escape the chase pack and run down the leaders.
After gaining the lead at the end of lap 2, Bruce was able to leverage his beefy car to hold off challengers for the duration. Chris meanwhile, with his smaller car, had finally run out of wear and Lance chased him down and passed him near the end of lap 3. However, it wasn’t enough to take the lead so it was Bruce, Lance and Chris crossing the finish line in that order. It was Bruce’s second Speed Circuit Championship - making him only the fifth driver with multiple titles in the 26 years of the event.
|Usual contenders John Welage and
Jimmy Fleckenstein were limited to heat action.
|Dennis Nicholson, like his beloved Yankees,
had to settle for the preliminaries.
|GM Chris Long (second from right) and his 11 co-finalists.