World Challenge GT - Baldwin Clinches Pirelli World Challenge Top-Three Championship
SONOMA, Aug. 27, 2012: Jack Baldwin and Team Hot Wheels™ rebounded from a cut tire while leading from the pole in Saturday’s season-ending Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Sonoma to clinch the third and final GTS-class championship podium spot for the No. 68 Hot Wheels®/GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman S.
“We wanted to come here, put in on the pole and win the race,” Baldwin said. “That’s what we came to do. We did everything right, we worked hard, there’s no question who had the fastest car or who was the car to beat, but in the end the luck didn’t go our way.”Baldwin and Team Hot Wheels™ captured their first career Pirelli World Challenge pole in Friday qualifying in the No. 68 GTSport Racing Cayman S that was supported all season by Hot Wheels®, InvoicePrep, Voodoo Ride and StopTech. Baldwin took the lead at the race start and stayed up front for the first 14 of the race’s 27 laps before the No. 68’s left front Pirelli P Zero was likely cut by on-track debris.
“We really had the winning car,” Baldwin said. “We put it on the pole and were never slower than P2 all weekend, even during Thursday’s testing. We even had the race’s fastest lap, were running strong, leading and up front and, unfortunately, we must have run over something. We haven’t had a flat tire all season, the Pirelli tires are fantastic, but we had a puncture today and that is all part of the game.”
The Cayman’s flat tire handed the Sonoma race win and second-place in the GTS championship to Camaro driver Andy Lee, but some quick pit work by the GTSport/Goldcrest Motorsports crew got Baldwin back in the race to lock-down third in the season points race.
“We came in and the guys did an awesome job of changing the tire,” Baldwin said. “We didn’t even go down a lap, we stayed on the lead lap, and if we would have had one more caution we may have finished seventh or eighth, but the important thing is that we finished.”
All Acura driver Peter Cunningham had to do Saturday to clinch the GTS Championship was take the green flag at the Sonoma race, but runner-up honors came down to a battle between Baldwin and Lee. Whichever driver finished higher would clinch second place in the championship.
“Honestly, if we didn’t win today, I am glad that Andy won it,” Baldwin said. “Peter wrapped up his championship, and that was no surprise, but the race and second in the points came down to me and Andy. It was tough racing against these guys this year, very hard, but a lot of fun and I enjoyed the heck out of it.”
The final GTS championship points tally saw Cunningham with 1,366, followed by Lee with 1,264 and Baldwin with 1,185.
Although the No. 68’s 12th place result at Sonoma was the lowest of the season for Baldwin and Team Hot Wheels™ the team finished every race this year on the lead lap.
“Well, we came a long way,” Baldwin said. “We took the car off of the showroom floor in January and, between the efforts of Napleton Porsche and Goldcrest Motorsports, we built a winning program with this Cayman S.”
In addition to the Sonoma pole, another highlight was a victory in just the second race for GTSport and Hot Wheels® on the streets of Long Beach in April. Baldwin and Team Hot Wheels™ also earned second-place finishes in races at Laguna Seca, Belle Isle Detroit and Mosport and finished in the top five in seven of the year’s 12 races.
“We won the big one, we won Long Beach, which was certainly and honor and we had a lot of fun in the entire process,” Baldwin said. “I am pleased and real proud of the GTSport Racing team that we have built, our partners are happy, and in just our first year, we became a respected race team, and for good reason.”