Schwartz holds off Wittmer for TC win; Kozarov secures title

Images by Richard S. James

Schwartz holds off Wittmer for TC win; Kozarov secures title

SRO America

Schwartz holds off Wittmer for TC win; Kozarov secures title


After losing Saturday’s race on the last lap, Johan Schwartz redeemed himself Sunday with a sensational Touring Car victory over Karl Wittmer in the Pirelli World Challenge TC Round 12 event at Watkins Glen International in the PWC Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented by TM Performance.

Schwartz led most of the Saturday 40-minute TC sprint race before Wittmer slid past him in Turn 8 on the final lap. Johan had to settle for the runner-up spot in the No. 80 Rooster Hall Racing/West Virginia University BMW M235iR in Round 11.

Sunday’s Round 12 contest was a similar scenario, but the North Carolina driver didn’t allow Wittmer the chance for a last-lap move with an 0.130-second victory. It was Schwartz’ third Touring Car victory of the 2018 PWC season.

Wittmer, looking for his third 2018 TC win, tried every angle he could to slip by Schwartz again like he did on Saturday. But the driver of the No. 91 Classic BMW BMW M235iR was forced to finish second Sunday. Matt Travis drove his No. 26 Classic BMW BMW M235iR to third place for the second straight day.

In the TC driver championship, veteran Vesko Kozarov unofficially captured the TC Drivers’ title by four points over Wittmer, 260-256, in the No. 3 Rearden Racing Nissan 370Z TC Spec. Classic BMW won the Team points title with BMW taking the top spot in the Manufacturers’ points.

Pirelli World Challenge; Watkins Glen, New York; Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2018:

“I drove the track many times in my mind last night, thinking about what to do in certain places,” said Schwartz, who finished third in the final 2018 TC points. “Having Karl behind me and in front of me yesterday taught me a lot about what I could do. I changed my racing strategy a little bit for today, figuring out where I was supposed to push my front tires and where I shouldn’t push my front tires because he wasn’t able to pass. You could see people bunching up behind us because I was driving fairly conservatively, using the left front tire when I needed to.

“Also, we broke a sway bar link yesterday and that didn’t happen today. Luckily, with BMW, as far as reliability, you are not concerned about those kinds of things at all. I drove the line yesterday, so I know that it would stick if I tried it and it was obviously successful and worked out for me today.”

It’s been a terrific season,” said Wittmer. “I owe everything to the guys at FastTrack Racing, Classic BMW, and BMW Motorsports. The car was impeccable all year and it’s always fun when you can come to the track and do what you have to do and not worry about reliability or anything like that. It’s been a positive season. I’ve been on the podium every weekend. Sure, I didn’t get the driver championship, but I don’t care because we got the team championship and the manufacturer championship and those are what counts.

“I just tried to find a way to pass them,” said Travis. I was a little faster in a couple of spots, but they were also faster in a couple of key spots. In the end, I just couldn’t find the way to get past them. But Classic BMW and BMW Motorsports gave me a great car. Johan and Karl are the best of the best and it’s hard to find a way around them. So, I hope everyone enjoyed the show that these guys put on and for two days in a row and I’ve had the best seat in the house.”

Rounding out the top five Sunday in the 18-lap TC feature was Robert Nimkoff in the No. 20 AutoTechnic Racing BMW M235iR in fourth and Jayson Clunie in the No. 27 Classic BMW BMW M235iR.

Kozarov placed sixth in the Sunday 40-minute Round 12 event.

“It was a great season with the Rearden Racing team and I thank them for this championship,” said Kozarov. “It wasn’t easy. We had our hands full with the BMW group all year. Many times this year we had the lone Nissan against a contingent of BMW cars. However, it feels good to finish out the year with the Touring Car title.”