Rounds five and six of the Pirelli World Challenge series were fought at Mosport International Raceway this past weekend, with GTS-class wins split between Mustang drivers Paul Brown of Covina, CA, and Ben Crosland of Salt Lake City, UT. Tiger Racing’s Brown was fast in early qualifying on the 10-turn, 2.459 mile track, posting a lap of 1:26.578 before an oil filter gasket split, causing him to spin in Turn 8. Brown nursed the #50 Lucas Oil/K&N Filters Mustang Boss 302S back to the pit in lane, but had to be pushed from there.
“We were up until midnight cleaning the car, but I’m still getting oil on the windshield today,” Brown explained after the Saturday morning qualifying session. “Still, we’ve got pole by a half second.” It was his third pole in five races this year and a new track record on the series’ Pirelli slicks. Starting beside Brown was Ben Crosland in the #25 Interbank FX/RacewithRP.com Mustang. Third on the grid was Eric Foss in the #73 Traxxas/St Jude Hospital/SPX Mustang FR500S. Starting beside Foss was Alec Udell, a 15-year-old rookie making just his third Pirelli World Challenge start. Udell took the #05 Momentum Autosport Chevrolet Camaro to a fastest time of 1:28.163.
Foss and Udell passed Crosland early in the race, while Brown ran ahead of the pack. By lap 5, though, Crosland and Udell moved past Foss just before Brown’s engine let go on lap 6, passing the lead to Udell. Crosland and Udell ran nose-to-tail for a handful of laps. With Crosland pressuring the younger driver, Udell ran off course in turn two, damaging the front right corner of his Camaro and handing the lead to Crosland. The next time around, on lap 10, Udell found more difficulties in turn two and had an even bigger crash in the fast, descending left-hander, bringing out the caution flag.
When the green flag returned on lap 18, Foss chased Crosland for several laps before his tires started to go away and then watched Crosland run to a 0.873-second victory. The 18-year-old Crosland earned his first Pirelli World Challenge win in his eighth career start after two previous podium finishes in the #25 Interbank FX/RacewithRP.com Mustang FR500S.
Chris DeSalvo and Brad Adams tied their best finishes of the season, coming home in third and fourth-places respectively. DeSalvo’s podium came in the #19 Rehagen Racing/Hawk/BBS Mustang GT, while Adams finished fourth in the #75 VooDoo Music/RacewithRP.com Mustang FR500S.
Sunday morning qualifying for Race 2 saw Ben Crosland set an early benchmark of 1:28.620 that would stand through the session, giving Crosland his first series start from pole. After changing the engine overnight in his #50 Lucas Oil/K&N Filters Mustang Boss 302S, Paul Brown would settle for a P2 start, just 0.027 seconds off the pace.
A light mist at the start of Sunday’s race wasn’t enough to force any tire changes. At the race start, Brown quickly pulled ahead of Crosland, with Foss, DeSalvo and Adams following. By lap 8, Brown, Crosland and Foss had pulled away from the pack and by lap 12, Brown led Crosland by 2.5 seconds. Brown continued to pull away, building up a 7.7-second lead before a full course caution slowed the field. Brad Adams and a number of others fell victim to oil on the track, leading to a major incident in turn 9. The GTS order at that point was Brown leading Crosland, Foss, DeSalvo and Cunningham. The race would finish under the full course caution.
For Paul Brown, it was his first chance to stand on the top step of the podium. His Long Beach win was awarded after the first place car was disqualified following technical inspection. Brown moved back to the top of the point standings with the win, leading Foss by 23 points.
“This one is official,” Brown said. “This one is pretty good. As always, we came prepared. We definitely had some issues in practice and in yesterday’s race and this just feels good. I can’t thank my crew enough.”
The Pirelli World Challenge series now enters a summer break and will return to action with a doubleheader at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, August 5-7.