Holton Fights Off Sickness, Scores All-New Audi RS3 First TC Win

Matthew Fassnacht, Canaan O’Connell Record 1st TC Victories in TCA, TCB

ALTON, Va. – Young driver Paul Holton of Orlando, Fla., had a variety of things happening during the 40-minute Touring Car Round 1 event Saturday as he scored the first all-new Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport victory at VIRginia International Raceway in the Pirelli World Challenge Nissan Grand Prix of VIR in difficult 90-degree conditions.

Matthew Fassnacht of Madison, N.J., and young Canaan O’Connell of Chandler, Ariz., son of sports car legend Johnny O’Connell, captured their first PWC wins in the TCA and TCB classes respectively.

Holton became sick in his new No. 71 360R Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport machine halfway through the TC opener but was able to still record his fourth PWC career win over Greg Liefooghe in the No. 20 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR by 0.878-seconds in the 18-lap race.

The event was red flagged on lap 14 when TC driver Jason Fichter of Jupiter, Fla., flipped his No. 7 Mother’s/Shea Racing Honda Accord numerous times in turn 13. Fichter was able to exit his race car and was transferred to Danville Medical Center for observation.

Holton, Liefooghe and veteran Nick Wittmer put on a sensational battle in the early portion of the Touring Car event before Holton took the advantage after the red flag period.

Following the TC event Saturday, Holton was unable to celebrate the victory in the winner’s circle as he asked to be transported to the track medical center for treatment of heat exhaustion-like symptoms.

“Wow, what a race! Just amazing to give the new Audi RS 3 LMS a win on its North American debut,” said Holton. “That was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. It’s hot and humid here today, and conditions in the car were really challenging. When the race was red-flagged, both the car and I got heat-soaked and I really had my work cut out for me on the restart. I put my head down and just got the job done on the second-last lap. It was really great racing, clean and fair with Leifhooge and Wittmer at the end. Thanks to all the folks at Audi Sport customer racing for all their help this weekend. What a team!”

At the finish line, it was Holton, Liefooghe and Wittmer in the No. 91 ST Racing BMW M235iR followed by Anthony Geraci in the No. 69 S.A.C Racing Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport, Rodrigo Sales in the No. 8 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR, Aristotle Balogh in the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M235iR and Karl Wittmer in the No. 99 Honda Ste-Rose Racing Honda Accord.

Fassnacht came back from an early incident to pass his teammate, defending TCA champion Elivan Goulart, in the No. 70 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX-5 late in the 18-lap contest. Goulart held the lead for a portion of the event before Fassnacht’s move to the lead on the last few laps.

Third went to Eric Powell in the No. 23 Tech Sport Racing Mazda MX-5 followed by Spencer Patterson in the No. 79 Patterson Racing MX-5 and PWC rookie Sarah Montgomery in the No. 65 Shea Racing/Lemons of Love Honda Civic Si.

“I was hit earlier in the race and fell well back into the field,” said Fassnacht. “I was catching up to the leaders. So, when the red flag came out, I was thinking ‘this is it.’ Then I heard that we were going to continue the race and I was pretty happy. It’s a longer race than you think. Thank goodness for that because the adversity I faced today was getting pushed off the track. I actually hit the wall and came into a dead stop and I fell back – someone said dead last but I think at least tenth. But the race was long so I stayed calm and focused on executing each turn and that’s something that I’ve learned from all the technique in my career.”

O’Connell also made a late race move to take the top spot in the TCB division Saturday as he defeated his teammate P.J. Groenke in the No. 25 Tech Sport Racing Chevrolet Sonic and pole sitter Jake Pipal in the No. 6 Pipal Racing Honda Fit.

“Actually that was one of the most fun drives that I ever had to do,” said O’Connell. “It felt really good going into it. I had a little bit of contact by a faster TC car going into turn 17 in a spot where nobody would really make a move. He tried to do it anyway and that caused me to go off the track. I’m going to be back at Lime Rock and CTMP. I’m still trying to get the rest of the season going. My dad has done a great deal for me in the sense of coaching me and teaching me everything that he knows as far as driving. He also says ‘if you want it, you have to make it happen like me’ so I make sure that I work with the ‘big shoes to fill’ mentality and that I was ready when I stepped into a race car.”

In the TC class, Anthony Geraci, driving the No. 69 S.A.C. Racing Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport, turned the fastest lap time with a 2:01.874 lap at 96.59 m.p.h. TCA division best lap was recorded by Elivan Goulart in the No. 70 S.A.C. Racing Mazda MX-5 at 2:11.444 (89.55 m.p.h.) Finally, Taylor Handwerk turned a 2:25.870 (80.70 m.p.h.) lap in the No. 77 Indian Summer Racing MINI Cooper to lead the TCB division.

Sunday’s Touring Car 40-minute feature is scheduled for 2:40 p.m. EDT. Catch live timing and scoring and live streaming of the next round of Touring Car competition at world-challenge.com.

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Results from the Pirelli World Challenge Nissan Grand Prix of VIR on April 28-30, 2017. All results are provisional until posted Final. Information listed includes Position, Position In Class, Driver Name, Hometown, Car, Number of Laps, Status, Race Time, and Gap to Leader for the Restarted portion of the race.

Pos,PIC,Class,Name,Hometown,Car,Laps,Status,Race Time,Gap
1,1, TC,Paul HOLTON,Orlando, FL,Audi RS 3 LMS,5,Running,10:17.437,
2,2, TC,Greg LIEFOOGHE,San Francisco, CA,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:18.315,0.878
3,3, TC,Nick WITTMER,Montreal, Quebec, CA,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:18.452,1.014
4,4, TC,Anthony GERACI,Glen Cove, NY,Audi RS3 LMS,5,Running,10:24.259,6.822
5,5, TC,Rodrigo SALES,Sonoma, CA,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:29.367,11.929
6,6, TC,Aristotle BALOGH,Palo Alto, CA,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:29.915,12.478
7,7, TC,Karl WITTMER,Montreal, Quebec, CA,Honda Accord V6,5,Running,10:32.899,15.461
8,8, TC,Jason COUPAL,Rochester, NY,Audi RS 3 LMS,5,Running,10:33.089,15.652
9,9, TC,Robert NIMKOFF,Newton, CT,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:35.497,18.060
10,10, TC,Stefan SAJIC,Belgrade, Serbia,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:36.080,18.643
11,11, TC,Cameron MAUGERI,Ormond Beach, FL,Lotus Exige,5,Running,10:45.768,28.331
12,12, TC,Justin RAPHAEL,Franklin Lakes, NJ,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:47.856,30.419
13,13, TC,Anthony MAGAGNOLI,Dexter, MI,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:49.969,32.532
14,14, TC,Henry SCHMITT,San Francisco, CA,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:49.992,32.554
15,15, TC,Chris OHMACHT,Franklin Lakes, NJ,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:50.094,32.656
16,16, TC,Mason FILIPPI,Alamo, CA,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:50.159,32.721
17,17, TC,Toby GRAHOVEC,Celina, TX,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:50.190,32.752
18,18, TC,Randy HALE,Haddam, CT,Mazda MX-5,5,Running,10:50.854,33.417
19,19, TC,Dennis HANRATTY JR,Mechanicsburg, PA,Lotus Exige,5,Running,10:51.444,34.006
20,20, TC,Shea HOLBROOK,Fulshear, TX,Honda Accord,5,Running,10:51.934,34.497
21,21, TC,Samantha TAN,Gormley, Ontario, CA,BMW M235iR,5,Running,10:52.327,34.890
22,22, TC,Tony RIVERA,Oceanside, CA,Nissan 370Z,5,Running,11:05.370,47.933
23,23, TC,Gino CARINI,Milwaukee, WI,BMW M235iR,5,Running,11:10.466,53.029
24,1, A,Matthew FASSNACHT,Madison, NJ,Mazda MX-5,5,Running,11:26.284,1:08.847
25,2, A,Elivan GOULART,Shelton, CT,Mazda MX-5,5,Running,11:26.372,1:08.934
26,3, A,Eric POWELL,Orlando, FL,Mazda MX-5,5,Running,11:26.573,1:09.136
27,4, A,Spencer PATTERSON,Pittsburgh, PA,Mazda MX-5,5,Running,11:26.960,1:09.523
28,5, A,Sarah MONTGOMERY,Lafayette, LA,Honda Civic Si,5,Running,11:28.251,1:10.814
29,6, A,Brian HENDERSON,Falmouth, MA,Mazda Global MX 5 Cup Car,5,Running,11:32.889,1:15.451
30,7, A,Michael JOHNSON,Austin, TX,Mazda MX-5,5,Running,11:36.932,1:19.495
31,8, A,Paul WHITING,Las Vegas, NV,Honda Civic Si,5,Running,11:41.077,1:23.640
32,9, A,Tom O’GORMAN,Mason, OH,Honda Civic Si,5,Running,11:46.920,1:29.483
33,10, A,Glory FERNANDEZ,Carolina, Puerto Rico,Honda Civic,5,Running,11:49.476,1:32.038
34,11, A,Daniel MOEN,Rindge, NH,Mazda MX-5,5,Running,11:50.970,1:33.532
35,12, A,Kevin ANDERSON,Huntington Station, NY,Scion FR-S,5,Running,11:51.438,1:34.001
36,1, B,Canaan O’CONNELL,Chandler, AZ,Chevrolet Sonic,4,Running,10:25.760,1 LAP
37,2, B,P.J. GROENKE,Richmond Hill, Ontario, CA,Chevrolet Sonic,4,Running,10:26.121,1 LAP
38,3, B,Jake PIPAL,Oakdale, CA,Honda Fit,4,Running,10:26.303,1 LAP
39,4, B,Taylor HANDWERK,Jim Thorpe, PA,MINI Cooper,4,Running,10:30.583,1 LAP
40,5, B,Travis WASHAY,Milford, CT,MINI Cooper,4,Running,10:30.755,1 LAP
41,6, B,Jasper DRENGLER,Shawano, WI,Honda Fit,4,Running,10:41.269,1 LAP
42,13, A,Dean COPELAND,Grasonville, MD,Mazda Global MX 5 Cup Car,3,Not Running,7:06.303,2 LAPS
43,7, B,Ted SAHLEY,Cleveland, OH,Mazda 2,3,Running,11:03.411,2 LAPS
44,24, TC,Cody ELLSWORTH,Jupiter, FL,Porsche Cayman,2,Not Running,4:10.623,3 LAPS
45,14, A,Jeff SEXTON,Austin, TX,Mazda Global MX 5 Cup Car,2,Not Running,4:52.679,3 LAPS
46,15, A,Jason CONNOLE,Raleigh, NC,Mazda MX 5,1,Not Running,3:59.174,4 LAPS
47,25, TC,Jason FICHTER,Jupiter, FL,Honda Accord,0,NC,,
48,26, TC,John ALLEN,Denver, CO,Audi RS 3 LMS,0,NC,,
49,27, TC,Chetan PURANIK,Belgaum, India,BMW M235iR,0,NC,,
50,28, TC,Josh FORAN,Odenville, AL,Honda Accord,0,NC,,
51,29, TC,John WEISBERG,Webster, NY,Mazda MX-5,0,NC,,
52,30, TC,Steve KHOLI,Iowa City, IA,Honda Accord,0,NC,,
53,31, TC,Andrew RAINS,Birmingham, AL,Honda Accord Coupe,0,NC,,

AP