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2012 Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg: Pirelli World Challenge

By  May 9, 2012
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These are a few of my favorite shots of the Pirelli World Challenge part of the 2012 Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg. A couple weeks back, when I started thinking about how I was going to write this article, I was very fixated upon the lack of rotaries in the Pirelli World Challenge. There was of course, the Star Mazdas and their RX-8 pace car, but no RX-8 elsewhere. There weren’t a lot to begin with, two if I remember right, in last year’s PWC. This brought up many questions. Would Star Mazda continue if the rotary were to cease future production? Would they move to something with pistons, like the MZR found in the Mazdaspeed 3?

It was all put to rest, at least for the time being, with this linked article from The Truth About Cars, stating that “In more performance oriented news, Mazda is working on not one but two new rotary engines. A new, more efficient, more powerful rotary engine as well as a rotary designed to be used as a range extender for an electric vehicle.” So, hopefully we’ll see a future evolution of a rotary sports car, be it a new RX-7, RX-8, or maybe call it an RX-9. Whatever they call it doesn’t matter to me, as long as it’s made.

On to the race day shots. I got some nice shots of the PWC cars when they were doing display laps at the beginning, along with what seemed like a seemingly never ending run of caution laps. In case you missed it, we also previously took a look at the paddock areas.

Robb Holland, who did some articles last year on Jalopnik about the build of the K-PAX Volvo C30, was racing with another team this year, in a Honda Civic Si. But Randy Pobst returned to K-PAX to run in the S60 along with Alex Figge. Pobst races in SCCA and also does driving reviews for Motor Trend magazine.

The great Peter Cunningham was on hand in the Realtime Racing Acura TSX. He’s one of the most winningest drivers in SCCA and I’ve been following him since the days of Sport Compact Car magazine.

You might recognize this GMG Porsche from the opening image in the paddock article.

The aggressive looking Blackhawk Racing Corvette followed by the Hawk Corvette, that seemed to later be towed off track.

You might also recognize this Nismo Z from the paddock article where we showed it starting up.

I’ve finally started to warm up to the 458, but I still love the 430 just a little bit more.

This little Mazdaspeed 3 with Anthony Rapone at the helm was kicking ass and taking names all weekend long. He took pole and 1st in both races in his class. He was followed over the line by Robb Holland and Aaron Povoledo, who were formerly team mates at K-PAX but now race for two different teams in a Civic Si and Volkswagen Jetta GLI.

Although the banshee wail of the rotary was absent for this year’s Pirellli World Challenge races, the roar of the Cadillac V8 was present to send a shiver down my spine.

The GMG Porsches seem to be doing well this year. James Sofronas, seen mid pack here in the white and blue, got a podium finish in the first race and 4th in the second. Last month, GMG debuted the worlds first World Challenge Audi R8 LMS at the race at Long Beach, CA.

Carl Hober, in the red Brandon Peterson Racing Honda Civic Si goes up on 2 wheels around turn 1. This is part of the reason I love World Challenge. Seeing what started out as street cars, do crazy things like this.

Vroom!

Jason von Kluge hits the 3 wheel motion going through Acura Turn 1o/Wheldon Way.

Up next is IndyCars, then it’s supercar time!