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Rydquist Clinches GT Class Championship at Mazda Raceway while Sheehan, Sekhon and Gardner Score Wins

Monterey, CA – Carl Rydquist managed to clinch the championship in the GT class with another dominant win in the class at the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In the Super Touring class, Mike Sekhon scored the win while Gary Sheehan won the Touring class. Andrew Gardner won his very first USTCC race, winning the Sportsman class.

Rydquist, driving the Champion Spark Plugs FFR GTM, had tough competition from Sam Stowell’s Somewhere Else Bar and Grill Jaguar XKRS but with a few lap to go Stowell went a little too deep going into the famous Corkscrew corner and was stuck in the gravel traps. That was the moment when Rydquist could finally celebrate the championship.

In the Super Touring class, George Kibilov put the SGK Home Solutions BMW M3 on the pole position but only by a tenth of a second over his rival Mike Sekhon in the Wheels BMW M3. In the race, Sekhon proved to have the stronger car as he passed Kibilov and finished ahead for his second consecutive win of the season. Larry Bani finished third in the other Wheels BMW M3.

The Touring Car class is extremely competitive and this time the front runners were once again very close. Andrie Hartanto qualified his Supertech/Rota Wheels Honda S2000 on pole position and he stormed off into the lead but a bad ABS sensor cost him time and made the Honda vulnerable under braking at a track with lots of hard braking zones. Qualifying in second place was the AutoLogic/Z Car Garage Nissan 350Z of Patrick Chio. Things looked great for Chio until the drop of the green flag when he had too much wheel spin at the start and went from second to last in a few seconds. On the other side, Wheels driver Gary Sheehan did not have a great qualifying session complaining about lack of grip. The team made changes and it showed as Sheehan started his charge to the front aboard his Hyundai Genesis Coupe. With the help of a full course yellow, Sheehan soon caught up to Hartanto and made a beautiful pass on the outside of Turn 5 and took over the lead. Chio did not give up and proved that he is very strong and passed Hartanto as well. In the end it was Sheehan in first, Chio in second and Hartanto in third place.

The Sportman class is the tightest class but a few broken engines and transmissions meant that some of the usual front runner could not make the race. Newcomer Andrew Gardner took advantage of that and placed his Ford Mustang ahead of the pack with another newcomer Jeff Francis in his LKQ/Finishmaster BMW M3 on his tail. The two had an epic battle with two laps to go with a great Ford vs. BMW battle. At the finish line it was the Ford by a nose over the BMW with Thomas Pitre’s Darwin Machine Acura Integra finishing in third place.

The teams don’t have much time to relax as they are back in only one week’s time for the next round at Sonoma Raceway. You can watch the entire race on which is broadcast on NBC Sports.

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