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Kibilov hangs in to Win Super Touring

by Ali Arsham
Thursday, June 8, 2017

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The top three in Touring Car class were Gary Sheehan (center) first place, Patrick Chio (left) second, and Roger Eagleton (right) third.
The top three in Touring Car class were Gary Sheehan (center) first place, Patrick Chio (left) second, and Roger Eagleton (right) third.
Fontana, CA – George Kibilov won his second consecutive Super Touring class race at round two of the United States Touring car Championship while Thomas Pitre had to fight all race long to win the Sportsman class.  Gary Sheehan won the Touring Car class while Daniel Akhromtsev had a fight on his hand in order to come out ahead in the GT class.

Auto Club Speedway is a unique circuit on the USTCC calendar.  The long speedway section of the track makes this track the fastest on the calendar.  While the Touring Car class cars normally hit about 120 mph at most tracks, they can hit speeds of around 140 mph at Auto Club Speedway.  The Super Touring and GT cars can go even faster.  This presents challenges to the teams as the higher speeds test their aero packages and gearing.

Kibilov was the quickest qualifier in the Super Touring class in his SGK Home Solutions BMW M3.  His competitors had issues during the weekend and by the time the green flag dropped for the race they were pressuring Kibilov.  Mike Sekhon and his teammate Larry Bani were both setting some quick lap times in their GoGoGear.com/Total/Konig Wheels BMW M3s.  In the end, Kibilov was just too quick to be caught. Sekhon was confident and said “we will get him next race.”  

The Touring Class is always very competitive and Sheehan made things interesting as he qualified second but took the lead at the start with a terrific launch and proceeded to set two blistering lap times with no traffic around him while everyone else was fighting for position behind. 

He built a seven second gap and managed to hold the gap from that point in his GoGoGear.com/Total/Konig Wheels Hyundai Genesis.  Pole sitter Patrick Chio’s Speed SF/Auto Logic Nissan 350Z finished second and Roger Eagleton’s BTM Motorwerks/Five Star Property Management BMW 330i finished third.  Chio said, “I was pretty slow at the start. I had a bad launch and I think I dropped to third or fourth and then I caught up to second but by that time first was too far ahead.”

The best battle had to be in the Sportsman class with four cars taking the lead during the race and the lead seemed to change every lap. 

The pole sitter was the Mazdatrix/Racing Beat Mazda RX8 of Michael McColligan but he had a bad start and dropped to fourth place. McColligan had to put his head down and fight back as he passed two cars and was soon on the rear bumper of the leader with two laps to go.

Unfortunately, he went a little wide at Turn 5 and spun while attempting to make the pass for the lead.  That gave the lead to Armen Rafaelian in his Red Star Racing Honda S2000 who must have felt confident that he was going to win this race.

Larry Bani in the GoGoGear.com/Konig wheels/Total BMW M3 finished third in the Super Touring class
Larry Bani in the GoGoGear.com/Konig wheels/Total BMW M3 finished third in the Super Touring class
That is not the same thing that Pitre was thinking as he closed the gap to Rafaelian and on the last lap got a run on the S2000 but Rafaelian protected the inside forcing Pitre’s GoGoGear.com/Konig Wheels/Total Acura Integra to the outside and Pitre hung in there knowing that the next corner was to the left and he would have the edge. 

Pitre made the move stick and received the checkered flag moments later and made it two wins in two races.

The high power cars in the GT class loved the long straights at the Auto Club Speedway.  Hitting almost 160 mph was the Champion Spark Plugs FFR GTM of Carl Rydquist and while the V8 powered FFR had the edge on the oval section, the Red Star Racing/ Domport Auto Body BMW M3 of Daniel Akhromtsev was better in the tight sections.  That translated to an almost identical lap time overall and at the end Akhromtsev managed to pull out the win by less than a second.

After the high speeds of Auto Club Speedway, the teams now head out to perhaps the tightest track on the calendar, Sonoma Raceway on June 17-18. Be sure to follow the action on www.ustcc.com and watch every show on Final Drive TV on NBC Sports BA available on Comcast cable, AT&T Uverse, Dish Network and DirecTV. You can always follow Final Drive on Facebook at www.facebook.com/finaldrivetv

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