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WBC 2005 Report

37 entrants, 1 shy of the previous record, participated in 6 races during 3 heats worth of action. Heat one had 29 drivers split onto two separate races of the tight and twisting Hungaroring. Heat two split 16 drivers onto two races of Adelaide. Heat three pitted 18 drivers against two races of LeMans, the first race for this track at the WBC.

The top 14 finishes from these heats qualified for the finals: Kevin Keller, Scott Cornett, Chris Hancock, and Jim Fleckenstein won two qualifying heats Kevin and Scott actually won two heats each and Jim won the only heat he entered. Darin Morley, Terry Schulz, Doug Schulz, and Franklin Haskell qualified with second place finishes. Gerald Lientz and John Wellage both qualified with third place finishes. Dennis Nicholson and Stuart Tucker both produced fourth place finishes in qualifying heats. Peter Ticole and John Sharp rounded out the final field as fifth place finishers in qualifying. John was the last driver to qualify improving on his previous eighth place finish in the final qualifying heat. Lance Ribeiro and Paul Haynes also qualified for the finals but did not participate.

The finals was a very competitive race with 8 different drivers making serious plays for the championships resulting in one of the most dramatic finishes in recent memory.

Chris leads in black/silver McClaren. Darin prepares for madness in Red/Black Futaba on the outside, 3-spaces back. View larger image.
Chris parlayed his 1st place qualifying finish and a high bid into a spot on the front row of the grid. When the lights went out, Chris got an excellent start and led the field into the first corner. Generating some early excitement, Darin plotted 80 mph over the first corner and blew into the tire barrier for the first of five retirements.

Chris got through the first two corners of the track with a lead and entered the long back straight in first hoping to gain separation on the rest of the field. But Chris' lower top speed prevented him from capitalizing on his early lead and the pack caught him by the end of that straight. Although Chris was able to stay near the front for the remainder of the first lap, he eventually fell back and finished 6th. Gerald made his move early in lap 1 and moved into first place after of a lap. Gerald was also unable to maintain his early pace and dropped back into the pack by the half way point in the race finishing 7th.

From front to back, bottom to top: Chris, Gerald, Jim, Doug, Terry, Scott, Kevin, John S., Dennis, Franklin, Peter, and John W. View larger image.
Jim hung around in 3rd or 4th for most of the first lap, but would take the lead by the mid-way point of the 2nd lap. Doug, Scott, and John S. battled for position behind Jim for most of the middle part of this race but as Doug and John S. fell off the pace in the last lap, Scott began to make up ground on the race leader.

Jim took excellent advantage of running first and used a lot of resources building a 2-turn lead by the end of lap 2. But Scott used his wear and skill chips to real in the leader during the 3rd and final lap. With of a lap remaining Scott had cut Jim's lead in half. With 1 corner remaining Scott had pulled even with the leader but had lost his significant advantage in chips. Earlier in this same lap, Dennis used the long back straight and his better tires to out-break and pass 3 cars through the next corner suddenly moving him up to third place, within site of the battle for first.

Two turns away from the finish: Jim followed by Scott and Dennis View larger image.
Scott spun out in his bid for an unprecedented second Speed Circuit championship in the final corner. Although Jim would retain the lead on this turn, Scott's push moved Jim off line allowing Denis to catch-up with the two leaders. With the finish line in sight, Jim's engine failed him in an attempt to a little more speed. This allowed both Scott and Dennis to catch up to Jim - three wide with mere spaces to go for a win. But Dennis had the better top speed and was able to reach it - crossing the finish line just ahead of Jim. Scott finished third a nose behind Jim. Kevin finished fourth after spending most of the race in the back of the pack. A forced pass with 2 corners left was the key move in a frantic lap that saw Kevin move up from 9th to claim the last plaque.

Two spaces from the checkered flag, Dennis (white) pulls ahead on the outside for the win. Jim (yellow) would finish second and Scott (blue) third.

Complete Finals Results:

Dennis Nicholson101
Jim Fleckenstein72
Scott Cornett13
Kevin Keller44
John Sharp145
Chris Hancock26
Gerald Lientz127
John Wellage118
Terry Schulz59
Franklin Haskell8dnf 10
Doug Schulz9dnf-brakes 11
Peter Ticole13dnf-engine 12
Stuart Tucker3dnf-engine 13
Darin Morley6dnf 14

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