A full field of Mustangs were at Mid-Ohio with World Challenge.
The six cars are a part of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge, which recently announced that it would stage its final race later in 2010. With the series fading away following this year, the GTS class of World Challenge is proving to be a popular landing zone for the iconic muscle car.
The first appearance of the car to the series became a trial run of sorts for the machine in the production-based series, which uses weight and performance restrictions to equalize the competition among a variety of cars. Even without a baseline to operate from, the No. 68 Cates Engineering Ford Mustang FR500S of Devin Cates finished third in Saturday’s race.
The top-finishing Mustangs were also honored with a visit to victory lane to participate in the podium ceremonies.
“It’s good to be here with the Mustangs,” Cates said after his podium finish. “World Challenge is letting the pony cars survive in this series. Once we get the upgrades for next season, I think we’ll be really good over here.”
In addition to Cates, Ben Crosland (No. 25 RPMotorsports Ford Mustang FR500S), George Winkler (No. 27 Winkler Automotive Services Ford Mustang FR500S), Gary Savage (No. 42 GameStreamer/XS Energy Drink Ford Mustang FR500S), Richard Golinello (No. 55 Grand Sanitation Ford Mustang FR500S) and Brad Adams (No. 75 RPMotorsports Ford Mustang FR500S) all joined World Challenge for Rounds Eight and Nine.
The World Challenge races, which include the faster GT cars and the Touring Car class on track at the same time in a sprint race format, were very different from the Mustang Challenge races. Additionally, World Challenge races feature standing starts, a highlight of the series.
“I had so much fun with all the traffic from the other classes,” Golinello said. “There was always so much going on, and you could never lose your focus. So far, the Mustang competitors have been welcomed, and I want to emphasize how much fun I had right from the start. The standing starts are unbelievably fun. It’s just a mess of cars taking off, and you don’t know where anyone is going to go. I got a good launch in both races and really enjoyed that format.”
Golinello was the first of the Mustang drivers to announce following the Mid-Ohio rounds that he expects to compete in the World Challenge season finale at Miller Motorsports Park, where the Mustang Challenge was born, and is already discussing plans to run the full World Challenge series in 2011.
A number of other drivers are expected to join Golinello at Miller, just outside of Salt Lake City, for the Toyo Tires Utah Grand Prix presented by Bondurant.
“We knew before Mid-Ohio that SCCA Pro Racing would have adjustments coming in the future for the Mustangs, but the series didn’t want to make them while the Mustang Challenge series was still running to a specified rules set,” WC Vision Director of Operations Scott Bove said. “Discussions and analysis are under way regarding what can be done for 2011. In the meantime, this opened up an opportunity for Mustang Challenge competitors to get a taste for what a weekend in World Challenge is about, and we’re thrilled that these six cars took advantage of this chance.”
Sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing, the 12-race 2010 World Challenge Championship continues Sept. 10-12 at VIRginia International Raceway. For more information, please visit www.world-challenge.com.