First Win of 2015 for Wilkins in Utah

by Jake Kilshaw

Mark Wilkins scored his first victory of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season in the first of two GTS class rounds at Miller Motorsports Park.

In the #38 Kinetic Motorsports Kia Optima, he led the field into turn one with team-mate Ben Clucas close behind. Meanwhile, championship leader Andrew Aquilante, who had started last following a tyre change, had made his was up to 11th position on the opening lap. He would later go on and finish tenth.

Jack Baldwin started to close in on the leading Kias on lap three, and was in the middle of a five-car lead battle, ahead of Vesko Kozarov and Michael Cooper.

Six laps later, Kozarov went wide at turn one when attempting to make the pass on Baldwin, but he didn’t lose any positions, as Cooper had fallen back slightly.

At the midway point, Baldwin made a move on Clucas for second, but he failed to successfully make the pass, allowing the leader to extend his gap. Later, Kozarov challenged Baldwin for third: the positions remained the same but Baldwin realised he had to push more.

This paid off, and he was soon in second place behind Wilkins. Kozarov made a similar move a lap later, and passed Clucas for third position.

Two laps remaining, and Baldwin had closed up to Wilkins, whilst increasing his gap back to Kozarov. As he started the final lap, the Porsche driver attempted to pull alongside the leader, and the last lap saw a few challenges from Baldwin which were all unsuccessful.

Mark Wilkins crossed the line after 25 laps with a half-second lead over Jack Baldwin, who was in turn 3.4 seconds clear of Vesko Kozarov. Ben Clucas and Andy Lee completed the top five.

“The Top 5 were covered by almost nothing there for first part of the race,” said Wilkins. “We knew that tire wear was going to be an issue. We were driving as hard as we could but we didn’t want to drive the tires off the car.

“I knew Jack [Baldwin] was going to be strong. I’m not sure if the result would have been the same with one more lap. So I’m very happy it ended when it did.

“It’s a tough battle because, if you looking in the mirror, you not concentrated on your lines on the track, then you make mistakes.”

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