The first of two races in the TC America powered by Skip Barber championship took place Saturday at Road America. Featuring 28 drivers divided between the TCX, TC and TCA classes, the 40-minute race under the shining sun was nothing short of action-packed. As a result, there were very small gaps at the checkered flag in the TCX and TC classes, and the last few laps gave fans one of the best battles of the season in the TCA class.
It was an eventful first lap for the leaders, as a four-way battle to get through the notorious Turn 5 resulted in a spin by polesitter Michael Kanisczak in the No. 97 Random Vandals Racing BMW M2 CS (Cup) and the retirement of Stephen Cugliari (No. 57 Accelerating Performance BMW M2 CS Cup), who had managed to briefly take the lead before causing a yellow flag.
The race restarted with 25 minutes remaining. Championship leader Jacob Ruud (No. 1 Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS Cup) quickly built up a significant gap from the rest of the field. Behind him, the battle for second place between Lucas Catania (No. 26 Rigid Speed BMW M2 CS Cup) and Steve Streimer (No. 30 HARD Motorsports BMW M2 CS Cup) began to heat up over the next few laps.
With Michael Kanisczak retiring from his maiden race, everyone else remained in position until the end of the race. Ruud crossed the finish line 3.552s ahead of Lucas Catania, claiming his sixth win of the season. The podium was completed by Garrett Adams in the No. 54 Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS Cup, who took third place from David Streimer with 7 minutes remaining. Streimer and Brett Scroggin in the No. 51 Homewrecker Racing BMW M2 CS Cup rounded out the top 5.
“First of all, I want to say thank you. I’ve got tons of family and friends out here today cheering me on,” said Ruud, ecstatic to have won at his home track. “I’d like to think this wouldn’t have been possible without their support. The Fast Track Racing guys put together a great car, so it’s nice to stand on the top step again, and especially great to stand on the top step at my home track.”
Polesitter Kevin Boehm in the No. 9 CrowdStrike Racing by Skip Barber Racing Honda Civic Type-R led in the early stages of the race before Clay Williams took over and cruised to victory in his No. 60 Mini JCW Team Mini JCW.
Williams won by just 0.656s over Boehm. Brazil’s very own Celso Neto claimed third place in his No. 8 VGRT Honda Civic Type-R, edging out the No. 42 Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Type-R of Ken Fukuda, who managed to take fourth from Kris Valdez (No. 09 DRS & Garagistic BMW M240iR) on the penultimate lap. This was Neto’s third-ever race in America and his first podium finish.
“It was an extremely tough race, we fought the brakes the whole time, and Kevin kept me on my toes,” said Clay Williams. “ I am thankful to everyone at LAP for the support at every race. Many thanks to my family, LAP, Patrick MINI, And Joeys Coffee co.”
Jeff Ricca qualified his No. 78 Gennracer / Riccca Autosport Hyundai Veloster N on the front row but was forced to start last due to an electrical problem on the formation lap, which forced race officials to run the first lap of the race under caution. He retired from the race after 11 of the 15 laps.
All eyes were on the battle between the MINI against two Subarus from the very first lap to the finish line. It was a spectacular three-car battle for the victory in the TCA class. Starting from pole position, Cristian Perocarpi managed to build up a lead in the opening laps aboard his No. 61 JCW Team MINI over Gresham Wagner, commanding the No. 21 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ, and his teammate Devin Anderson in the No. 22 TechSport Racing sister Subaru BRZ. However, the two TechSport drivers managed to come back and pass their MINI JCW Team rival. The three drivers did not let each other out of sight throughout the final 15 minutes of the race.
An error from Anderson gave Perocarpi the chance to take back second place with three minutes to go, allowing him to hunt down and pass Wagner on the final lap. At the finish line, Perocarpi, Wagner and Anderson were all within 0.738s of each other. This was the second win of the year for Perocarpi and moved him up to fourth in the championship.
Canadian P.J. Groenke (No. 62 Mini JCW Team Mini JCW) and Branyon Tiner (No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport W/Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Veloster Turbo) rounded out the Top 5.
It was a difficult race for championship leader Carter Fartuch (No. 16 Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Si), who was penalized with a drive-through for jumping the restart. Carter maintained his lead, but Wagner closed to within 15 points with five races remaining.