Michael Cooper won the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car drivers’ championship at Sonoma Raceway, taking victory in his Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda3 ahead of title rival Todd Lamb’s Honda Civic, but Honda wrap-up the manufacturers’ title.
In the three race season finale at Sonoma Raceway, it was Robert Thorne who won the first race in a one-off appearance in the Volvo C30 campaigned by KPAX Racing last year, with title contenders Todd Lamb in the Compass360 Racing Honda Civic second and Cooper’s Mazda third.
In the second race, Lamb took the win, finishing four seconds ahead of Cooper to close to within 62 points in the drivers’ championship with 150 points available in the third and final race on Sunday.
With the grid for the final race set by the fastest laps from race two however, Cooper would line-up on the grid on pole position, and powered away to his sixth win of the season, extending his lead to 108 points over Todd Lamb and claimed the 2012 World Challenge Touring Car drivers’ title.
“I got out a huge gap, and just knew I needed to manage it and manage my car and make 40 minutes,” said Cooper. “I knew I didn’t need to win the thing.”
“Johnny O’Connell is the World Challenge GT champion this year and he’s the one that told my dad to put me in a race car – that was only three years ago. To be standing here after winning two consecutive SCCA Pro Racing championships is just unbelievable. It started to hit me on the last few laps. It hit me a little, but it still hasn’t sunk in yet. I didn’t sleep much last night, I was going over this could happen, and that could happen. I’m just happy to be standing here.”
Todd Lamb had to fight for second in race three, fighting with Robert Thorne’s Volvo C30, grabbing second from the Volvo-driver on lap 12, with team-mate Ryan Winchester also making it past to join him on the podium.
“We were used to the Mazda going out and burning the tyres off later in the race and somehow they figured out how not to do that,” said Lamb. “It’s certainly something we’ll have to contend with next year, but we gave it everything we had. We did everything we could possibly do for this championship and it didn’t work out. I’m really happy for the (Atlanta Motorsports Group) guys. I’m big friends of theirs and I’m happy to see them win the championship if I couldn’t do it.”
Although the drivers’ title eluded Lamb, the efforts of the Compass360 Racing team this season helped Honda secure the manufacturers’ title ahead of the single-car Mazda entry, with Honda on 99 points and Mazda on 81. Volkswagen finished third with Volvo appearing on the table with 10 points after Thorne’s results at Sonoma.
2012 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car drivers’ championship final result