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2007 Hankook U.S. Touring Car Championship Season Set to Begin

    By Ryan Cristobal / USTCC Media Staff

March 8th, 2007/Willows, Ca. - The Hankook U.S. Touring Car Championship will begin their eight season of competition this weekend of March 10-11 at Thunderhill Park Raceway in Willows, California. The long and challenging track made famous for the longest endurance race in the world, the 25 Hour of Thunderhill.

For the first time since 2004, the series will thunder down on California Interstate 5 to Thunderhill. While the off season was relatively quiet with just a few changes made and announcement, the biggest change thus far is spec-tire package. The Hankook USTCC series will debut its switch to Hankook Tires’ Z214 slick tires. All cars in the series will be using the Z214, which does not need shaving, in a 225/45-17 size. One item does remains, 2-time defending driver’s champion Dave Brown will be once again to beat as the 2007 campaign begins.

But after the dust settled at last season finale race in Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada last November of 2006, it is difficult to predict who will be on the top steps. By taking a glance based on 2006 performance, Dale Seivwright with BMW Powered MPACT Motorsports works have the best showing in 2006 to dethrone the reigning USTCC driver’s champion. The dynamic duo of Pete Bovenberg and Curt Simmons of MBO Motorsports are primed for the challenge for the top steps as well. As a team they’ve been consistent in each every event and have been constant filler in Brown’s rear view mirror in all of 2006. Simmons had been a regular top 5 finisher, a pair of podiums, one third place finish and a scoring his first USTCC win at the 2006 finale, clinching a second USTCC win for the Dodge marquee.

Rich Peterson in the #58 Bergman Companies/MINIdeck Motorsports MINI Cooper-S is set to improved on his 2006 A’PEX Integration Award winning season and take lead once again for MINI in the Manufacturer’s Title championship.

However, the rest of the USTCC field is primed to pick off anyone that sets their sight on the 2007 Driver’s Championship. Touring Car racing veteran, Dino Hamilton in the #87 GOJIracing.com/Hamilton Racing Dodge SRT-4 looks to shake off 2006 after a few strings of on track woes and should help propel Dodge to win the 2007 Hankook USTCC Manufacturer Title with the SRT-4 platform.

A host of others look to improve their touring car programs in 2007, including Bryan Clymer behind the wheel of his #10 Race Car Fans STASiS Built Audi A4. Clymer quickly settled in the series with a strong showing in couple of races in 2006. 2006 A’PEX Integration Rookie of the year runner-up Joe Barley in the #41 VFC Engineering/APR Tuning Volkswagen GTI will also look to challenge for podiums and wins.

Official practice for the 2007 Hankook USTCC Round 1 starts on Saturday, March 10 at 8:00 am. First Qualifying will be on Saturday, March 11. The Hankook USTCC field will take the track for it season opener race on Sunday, March 12. Event updates and results will be available here on the U.S. Touring Car Championship official website.