Sheehan wins Touring Car and Bovenberg wins Sportsman at Thunderhill.
Willows, CA – Round 5 of the United States Touring Car Championship was held at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, California. The hot weather made it difficult on drivers and on equipment but the MyRaceShop.com FFR GTM of Carl Rydquist would take an easy win in the GT class. In the Super Touring class, it was a hard-fought win by Doug Makishima’s AR-G Motorsports BMW M3 while Gary Sheehan brought home a win in the Konig Wheels Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Pete Bovenberg started on pole position and took home the win in Sportsman in his MBO Motorsports Honda Civic.
The GT battle looked like it was going to be epic between Sweden’s Rydquist and Ireland’s Rob Harper, driving the BC Forged Chevrolet Corvette and young American driver Roy Fulmer who was driving the 034 Motorsport Audi S4. All three cars looked very strong but Fulmer had engine issues and his day was over on lap one. Harper got what he wanted by taking the early lead and being able to control the race but his day ended when the transmission decided it was done and Harper was forced to retire the car. From that point, Rydquist would have an easy time as he had a large gap over himself and second place finisher, Chris Alliegro and his Intellectual Ventures Ford Mustang FP350S.
In Super Touring, the spectators witnessed the best racing as Larry Bani, who had qualified second in his GoGoGear.com/KW Suspension BMW M3, made a great move to pass Doug Makishima’s MCS BMW M3. The pair were nose to tail for several laps until Makishima used the draft to move past Bani into turn 1. Bani kept the pressure on but could not find another opportunity to pass and at the end was five seconds behind. Swiss driver Reto Baumann had mechanical problems with the West Coast Ravenol Volkswagen Jetta and finished third.
In Touring Car, the fight was on and there was no time to relax. Gary Sheehan put his Konig Wheels Hyundai Genesis Coupe on pole position with his teammate Art Nersisyan in second place. In the week leading up to the race, there was some smack talk between the pair on social media since Nersisyan had won the previous two races and was going for three in a row. During the race, Nersisyan found a way to go around Sheehan and for a while it looked like he was on his way to a third consecutive victory. A small mistake is all it took for Sheehan to take advantage and make the pass. Sheehan would hold on to the lead from that moment with Nersisyan in second and the Rose Construction BMW M3 of Greg Evans finished third with the fastest lap of the race.
Sportsman always is full of action and this weekend was no exception. Dutch driver, Pete Bovenberg took the lead and Hong Kong’s Edgar Lau would chase him for the entire race in the Rose Construction BMW 330i. Michael McColligan fought off a hard charging Andrew Gardner’s Ford Mustang and brought home a podium finish to the Raybestos/Idemitsu Mazda RX8.
Chris Alliegro won the Plastex Top Rookie award with a second place in GT. The AR-G Motorsport team won the Top Team award with a first place and a second place finish.
The next race will be on a circuit that is very familiar to most of the drivers, Sonoma Raceway on September 7-8, 2019 giving the team four weeks to make repairs and improvements Follow the action on Facebook and Instagram and be sure to watch the race exclusively broadcast on Final Drive TV on NBC Sports.