Gleason caps off WTCC season with debut podium in Qatar
Kevin Gleason, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania capped off his debut season in the FIA World Touring Car Championship by becoming the first American driver to take the podium in a WTCC event with a fantastic third position at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Gleason, who joined the championship at the second round at Monza after a tactical switch from the TCR International Series where he was a multiple winner, has grown stronger and stronger throughout the campaign and looks every bit at home at this premier level.
Gleason's podium in Qatar comes off the back of three consecutive points scoring weekends in the championship (Japan, China and Macau) and saw him move up to a final championship position of 13th and eighth in the WTCC trophy for independent drivers.
Gleason, who has campaigned an RC Motorsport Lada Vesta TC1 car this season - widely acknowledged to be one of the weaker cars on the grid - exploited an excellent qualifying performance in Qatar where he again outpaced highly rated teammate Yann Ehrlacher and the factory Hondas to claim tenth position and the opening race pole position.
In the race, Gleason battled to keep the 2016 championship winning Citroens behind, but was unable to ward off Independent Championship contenders Tom Chilton and Bennani as came through, but then sat resolute to defend from another Citroen of John Filippi to take the final podium spot. This was especially impressive given that he was ahead of all of the factory Hondas and Volvos.
"I am really happy with this result," said declared Gleason "I feel that I have really got it together with the car and championship, particularly in the last four races – where I made Q2 in each event - since the season resumed after the summer break.
"In Japan, where I started from pole, I didn't get the result I should have so I was determined to get the podium this time. I didn't want to take too many chances defending from the guys who were battling for the Independent championship but dug in once they had gone through and we got the result!
"Its been a great season and a wonderful championship and I have to thank all the RC Motorsport team for a great job on limited resources."
Gleason now turns his attention opportunities for the 2018 season. "Of course, I would love to stay with the WTCC. It looks like 2018 will see an adoption of the TCR regulations where I have been quite successful in the past. I think I would be well placed to be in the mix at the front in every race.
"I think I have shown this year that I can be an asset to any team and hopefully this will translate into some good opportunities for me."