October 6, 2013
Houston, Texas – The Pirelli World Challenge professional race series crowned their class champions after the final season races this weekend at the Houston Grand Prix race weekend. Robbie Davis in the MINI of Charleston Racing Team 2012 MINI Cooper won the 2013 Class TCB-Spec Championship.
The season finale TCB Class races, two back to back 25 minute races with a 15 minute break to rotate tires, were run as part of the Houston Indy Car race weekend at the 1.6 mile street course around the Reliant Center and Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Robbie Davis, originally from Summerville, SC and a Clemson University Graduate, had just moved to Houston and was seeking to use a home field advantage to close the one point deficit that stood between Robbie and Ernie Francis, Jr. of Davie, Florida. Serious track surface problems for the low clearance Indy Cars and delays for repairs cancelled the qualifying sessions for the Pirelli World Challenge teams. The first race would start based on driver points, with Francis on the pole and Davis next to him. At the green flag, Joel Lipperini got a good jump on the two front row cars and made it three wide going into the tight turn one chicane. Davis’ MINI was forced outside onto a part of the track that was still covered with concrete dust from the attempted track repair the night before. The rear of the MINI slid out and began a spin back across the track. Francis Jr. cut his Mazda 2 hard to the left to avoid Davis and hit the wall along with the MINI. Francis’ car was damaged beyond being able to complete the race, but Rob’s MINI, although suffering cosmetic damage, mechanically was still sound. The mishap dropped Davis to 19th, but he was able to set the fastest race lap and come back through most of the field, finishing 8th. The race was won by Tyler Palmer of Oceanside, Ca. in his 2010 MINI Cooper.
Race 2 started with the cars lined up in the order that they finished the first race. Ernie Francis Jr. hopped into the father’s Mazda 2 for this race and had a good drive towards the front, but ultimately was not able to get high enough to have an effect on the final points standings. Davis improved to 7th and Francis Jr. finished 8th. Palmer went on to win race two and move himself up to 4th in the final points standings; Ernie Francis Jr. finished 3rd in points and Pittston, Pa.’s Joel Lipperini brought his Honda Fit to 2nd in points. The final championship points after the 14 race series were:
Robbie Davis (MINI of Charleston/MINIUSA.com-MINI Cooper) 1382 points
Joel Lipperini (Race Labz – Honda Fit) 1352 points
Ernie Francis Jr. (Hydraulic Jeans – Mazda 2) 1345 points
At the awards presentation Sunday evening, Robbie Davis thanked his father for being this mentor for his racing career and noted that it was almost exactly 10 years since his first drive in a race car with his Dad next to him screaming instructions. Robbie also thanked Stuart Kestenbaum of Charleston and Chris McAlister of Charlotte who served as Rob’s volunteer crew all season.
Davis and the MINI of Charleston team had 3 wins; 8 top 3 finishes and all 14 finishes in the top 8 or better. Davis also lead the most laps 3 races, fastest qualifier twice and set the fastest race lap in 4 races.