Utah racer Vesko Kozarov posted his fifth 2018 Touring Car victory Saturday at his home track, Utah Motorsports Campus, to extend his class point lead in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Utah.
Kozarov, the Salt Lake City resident, started third and held the top position with his No. 3 Rearden Racing Nissan 370X TC Spec car for the majority of the 18-lap, 40-minute Round 9 TC feature as he seeks the Touring Car championship with three races remaining in the 12-event campaign.
In addition to the win, Kozarov also set the fastest race lap of two minutes, 5.174 seconds for an average speed of 87.66 miles per hour. Vesko’s fastest race lap was a new UMC track mark, bettering the old record of 2m05.242s (87.61 mph) set last year by Greg Liefooghe.
“I had a good start and the heat was pretty tough today,” said Kozarov. “It is very nice to win at home and it’s always nice to win anywhere. I gave it all we had today. We’ll have to go get another win on Sunday.”
Trailing Kozarov at the checkered flag Saturday was Karl Wittmer in the No. 91 Classic BMW BMW M235iR, just 0.574 seconds behind the winner. Third went to his Classic BMW teammate Matt Travis in the No. 26 Classic BMW BMW M235iR.
Rounding out the top five Saturday in Touring Car was the pole winner, Johan Schwartz in the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing/West Virginia University BMW M235iR, and Paul Terry of Filmore, Utah, in the No. 33 Rearden Racing Nissan 370X TC Spec. Schwartz came back to fourth from a penalty at the start of the 40-minute sprint race which required a “pit lane drive though” violation.
“This finish felt like the top step of podium today,” said Wittmer, currently second in the TC points. “The Classic BMW guys gave me a perfect car today. I thought I had a shot at Vesko but he was just too good today. The track surface wasn’t greasy but the heat played a factor. You had to manage your tires and the race car. I gave it all I had today. It was tough with the 90-plus heat.”
“It was good race for us,” said Travis. “The Classic BMW boys gave me a great setup and we had a very strong car. I just didn’t have the pace for Vesko and Karl. But we are on the podium again. The wind wasn’t the factor today but the heat sure was. We had to control our tires, engine and the car overall to get the most out of it. It was a fun race and looking forward to Sunday’s event.”
The TC Round 10 event will be at 11 a.m. ET/9:00 a.m. MT Sunday.