Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 12:34 EDT

Fiat 500 Driver Jonathan Start Claims Inaugural Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec Championship

August 27, 2012

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Aug. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Fiat driver Jonathan Start is the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-spec series champion, wrapping up the title in his No. 00 Fiat 500 at the season finale at Sonoma Raceway this past weekend.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120827/DE63429 )

Start finished fifth in Sunday’s 40-minute timed event after posting two fourth-place finishes in Saturday’s back-to-back, 25-minute race to clinch the title at the 12-turn, 1.99-mile road course.

“Congratulations to Jonathan and his team for capturing the inaugural World Challenge Touring Car B-spec series championship,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of the FIAT Brand for North America, Chrysler Group LLC. “We’re proud to see that their hard work paid off and that the solid engineering behind our Cinquecento is not only able to successfully compete in Europe, but also to win titles in America.”

Start was excited with his championship win, but it didn’t come easy.

“We kept our Fiat 500 clean and did what we needed to do to claim the championship,” Start said. “With all the tight turns, elevation changes and slow corners here at Sonoma, it was another learning experience for us. We gained a lot of knowledge this weekend that we’ll carry on to next year.”

In April, Start got the inaugural season of Touring Car B-spec competition off to a fast start by posting back-to-back wins at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah and followed up with a fourth the next day. The series traveled across the border in June to Canada (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, formerly Mosport) for the second event weekend where Start posted three third-place finishes.

“We started the season strong,” said the rookie Michigan native. “The Fiat 500 was ready to race. Getting those wins and that fast start carried us through the whole year. Sonoma didn’t go exactly as we had planned but it was a strong points weekend. It was the same throughout the year, we were consistent.”

Modifications for racing in the series are limited to shocks, springs and the required safety equipment.

“It’s been a great first year for the Fiat program,” said SRT Road Racing Manager Gary Johnson. “Jonathan deserves a lot of credit for bringing home the championship. His fast start with two wins in the season opener and three third-place finishes at Mosport were critical. Jonathan drove smart all year and focused on the title rather than individual race wins. It takes a real professional to look long term, race clean and finish every race.”

Pirelli World Challenge Series
Touring Car B-Spec Final Standings
(After 9 of 9 rounds)

2. Craig Capaldi 651
3. Russell Smith 515
4. Andre Rapone 480
5. Sage Marie 335
6. Brandon Miller 329
7. Jim Kenzie 314
8. Conner Ford 190
9. Peter Schwartzott Jr. 262
10. Shaun Bailey 252

About the FIAT Brand
The FIAT Brand stands for discovery through passionate self-expression. It encourages people to be in charge of their lives, live confidently and celebrate the smallest of things with infectious excitement. That philosophy is embodied by the North American introduction of the iconic Fiat 500 or Cinquecento – a small car that lives big. Italian at heart and rooted in a rich heritage, the 500 is synonymous with modern simple design blending form, function and a pride of ownership that is genuine.

Reminiscent of the original Cinquecento, the 2012 Fiat 500 and Fiat 500c (Cabrio) build on the vehicle’s global popularity. Since its initial launch in 2007, more than 800,000 Fiat 500 vehicles have been sold in more than 80 countries around the world. The model’s unquestionable popularity is the result of the Fiat 500′s great ability to deliver unmatched personalization options with advanced solutions in terms of quality, engine and passenger comfort. In addition to success on the sales front, the Fiat 500 has earned more than 80 awards, including being named the 2008 European Car of the Year, 2009 World Car Design of the Year, Best New Engine of 2010 (FIAT MultiAir Turbo) and a 2012 “Recommended Pick” by Consumer Guide.

About SRT Motorsports
The engineering expertise within SRT extends well beyond our street vehicles. It is a little known fact, but technical support for the Chrysler Group’s motorsports program is provided by the astute engineers at SRT. Lessons learned on the track directly translate to improved vehicles for our customers. SRT Motorsports is expanding its racing presence this year and look for more news from pit lane.

SOURCE Chrysler Group LLC

Source: PR Newswire