Bonilla Extends Points Lead – Slightly – Even as Vorrath Wins Twice

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Saturday, May 14, 2005 LIME ROCK, Conn. (May 13 & 14) – Jordy Vorrath made it clear this weekend at Lime Rock Park that he is a championship force to be reckoned with as he won both races of the Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER. In Friday’s race he leapt at the opportunity when both front-row starters — Matt Varsha, who had taken his first career SBNC pole, and David Greco, the where did he come from? Italian driver — spun in the first corner on the first lap, which produced a very entertaining race-long dice between Vorrath, Gerardo Bonilla, Alan Sciuto and… Varsha, who came from nearly last place to grab a podium. On Saturday, Vorrath, starting from his first pole, went back and forth with Bonilla and Sciuto again, taking the lead for good about halfway for his second win.

For the pace lap of race one, Varsha tried a real slow start and at the green, down the front straight he and Greco flew. The problem is they both went real, real deep into One. Varsha couldn’t rein her in and spun off, while Greco chose to evade by going wide, ending up in the grass. They both got back on, but were now at the back. All the way back.

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Okay, things looked fine as Varsha (#95 red) and Greco (#26 white) head into Big Bend for the first time…

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…but Varsha was in too hot and here you see the start of the spin that would put both these guys at the tail end of the field.

That put Vorrath in the lead, Lorenzo Mandarino second, Bonilla third. But that didn’t even last a lap as Vorrath skated four-off in the Downhill, the last corner, and Bonilla was past Mandarino for the lead as they crossed the stripe. Hey, sixth to first on one lap was pretty good, what? Meanwhile, Vorrath kept his foot in it and got back on the track in third.

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Also on the first lap, Vorrath had a major four-off in the Downhill. There’s the sidepod damage that resulted — but it didn’t slow him down a bit.

Sciuto was in this racy mix, too, and got past both Mandarino and Vorrath to take over second place on the second lap. It was nose-to-tail Bonilla, Sciuto and Mandarino for the next six laps until Vorrath popped into second going under Sciuto in One on lap nine. He went right after Bonilla and two laps later got the run out of the Downhill to take the lead, one he would not relinquish the rest of the way. Vorrath did not put a wheel wrong, and looked to be in ”the Zone.”

With 10 laps to go, Mandarino began to experience a brake problem with the car and unfortunately spun in One, and Sciuto made some minor mistakes that eventually gave Bonilla a permanent hold on P2. Vorrath was in full command and on laps 15, 16 and 17, by putting up two high- :57s and a mid-:58 when Bonilla could only string together two low-:58s and terrible :59 flat, the game was done.

But all the while, from the moment Varsha had seemingly tossed everything away at the start, he put his head down and charged like a man possessed. He took five cars on lap two, then one per lap over the next four laps. Before the race was even half done, Varsha was up to sixth.

”I re-joined fast, after the spin,” Varsha said, ”and I looked up and saw the leaders were just entering No Name Straight. So I’m thinking, Hey, I can still catch them!”

On lap 15 he gained a spot with Mandarino’s off-course excursion, then duked it out with Pablo Sanchez Lopez for four laps before disposing of him, and then it took Varsha just one lap to hunt down and get around Sciuto for P3. It was a very worthy drive and pretty damn exciting to watch. To top it off, on the last lap, Varsha broke A.J. Allmendinger’s four year old fastest-lap record. (A.J.’s old record: :57.337. Varsha’s new record: :57.292.)

Seemingly before the BFG slicks had time to cool off, off the field went for qualifying for Saturday’s race. Again the players were Bonilla, Varsha, Vorrath and Mandarino (Greco and Sciuto crashed early, killing their chances for pole), but Vorrath — he’s this year’s Skip Barber Karting Scholarship winner and oh, by the way, hadn’t seen Lime Rock before — truly was in the zone. He clicked off a :57.193 12 minutes into the 35-minute session, which meant Varsha’s enjoyment of being the record holder lasted all of three hours. Bonilla got under A.J.’s and Varsha’s number to start second, in front of Varsha and Mandarino.

A lot less drama to start this race, as everybody behaved and it was Vorrath, Bonilla, Mandarino, Varsha and VIR race-two winner Cole Nelson one through five. Bonilla went right to work and snatched the lead from Vorrath going into One on lap three. But Varsha had something to say, too, and a lap later grabbed second from Vorrath, then 58 seconds later he got around Bonilla for the lead. Vorrath, in third, was giving nothing away to Bonilla and on lap 12, he and Bonilla ended up side by side as they rocketed up No-Name. Bonilla very wisely backed out a bit and the two made it through the Uphill in one piece.

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Bonilla and Varsha both had good weekends: Bonilla playing it smart for points, Varsha now confident he can run up front consistently.

Now Vorrath set his sights on Varsha. It took him just four laps to wind him in and it was a graceful pass for the lead into One that sealed his second win. Varsha now had to deal with Bonilla, as Vorrath got on his horse and put two seconds on P2 inside of six laps. Varsha, who said by mid-race he simply worn out his front tires, had to give up that place to Bonilla with four to go, and there it was Vorrath with win number two, Bonilla second, Varsha third, a solid fourth for Nelson and fifth to Mandarino (who’s race was a roller coaster of third to fourth to fifth to seventh, then a climb back to fifth with nine laps to go).

Vorrath looked like a seasoned pro all week and the double win (plus a pole point) saw him go from fourth to second in points. Bonilla actually stretched his points lead (he led by 30 over Nelson coming in to LRP, now it’s 31 over Vorrath), but he’s gotta be more worried, not less, now that Vorrath and Varsha have showed their hands. There’s little doubt Mandarino and newbie Greco have wins in their forecasts, not to mention Nelson, Sciuto and Sanchez Lopez. Note: Mandarino took one of his two 2004 SBNC wins at Road America, and that’s where they’re headed next, July 1-3.

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Vorrath (c.) gets his two-win ”hat” on, Bonilla (l.) is happy, and Varsha (r.) welcomes his friend, 2004 Skip Barber National Champion (and current IPS frontrunner) Marco Andretti, to the Saturday podium.

May 13, 2005, Round 5 of 14, Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER
Lime Rock Park, 7-turn, 1.53-mile road course
Starting position in parentheses

1. (3) Jordy Vorrath, White Rock, B.C., Canada, 26 laps, 94.043 average mph
2. (6) Gerardo Bonilla, Orlando, Fla., 26 laps
3. (1) Matt Varsha, Atlanta, Ga., 26
4. (5) Alan Sciuto, Orange, Calif., 26
5. (9) Pablo Sanchez Lopez, Xochimanga, Mexico, 26
6. (7) Cole Nelson, Atwater, Calif., 26
7. (2) David Greco, Italy, 26
8. (12) Paul Albert, Ottawa, Ont., Canada, 26
9. (8) Garrett Zine, Rio Linda, Calif., 26
10. (11) Winston de Wardt, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 26
11. (15) Andy Rossetto, Grafton, Wis., 26
12. (14) Chris Cook, Coopersburg, Pa., 26
13. (16) Jimmy Holden, Tiona, Pa., 25
14. (4) Lorenzo Mandarino, Burnaby, B.C., Canada, 17 laps (retired)
15. (17) Richard Heistand, Sunny Isles, Fla., 13 laps (contact)

Not Classified
DQ (10) Peter Ludwig, New Paltz, N.Y., 26
DQ (13) Casey Neal, Middletown, Ohio, 13

Race length: 26 laps of 1.53-mile, 7-turn road course for 39.8 miles
Time of race: 25 minutes, 22.798 seconds
Winner’s average speed: 94.043 mph
Margin of victory: 2.642 seconds
Lap leaders: Bonilla, 1 – 10; Vorrath 11 – 26
Fastest race lap: Varsha, :57.292, lap 26
Fastest qualifier: Varsha, :57.487

Neal DQ’d for ignoring black flag (jumped start) and post-race unsportsmanlike conduct
Ludwig DQ’d for post-race unsportsmanlike conduct

May 14, 2005, Round 6 of 14, Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER
Lime Rock Park, 7-turn, 1.53-mile road course
Starting position in parentheses

1. (1) Jordy Vorrath, White Rock, B.C., Canada, 26 laps, 94.938 average mph
2. (2) Gerardo Bonilla, Orlando, Fla., 26 laps
3. (3) Matt Varsha, Atlanta, Ga., 26
4. (6) Cole Nelson, Atwater, Calif., 26
5. (4) Lorenzo Mandarino, Burnaby, B.C., Canada, 26
6. (8) Pablo Sanchez Lopez, Xochimanga, Mexico, 26
7. (7) Peter Ludwig, New Paltz, N.Y., 26
8. (5) Garrett Zine, Rio Linda, Calif., 26
9. (9) Andy Rossetto, Grafton, Wis., 26
10. (14) Alan Sciuto, Orange, Calif., 26
11. (13) Chris Cook, Coopersburg, Pa., 26
12. (11) Paul Albert, Ottawa, Ont., Canada, 26
13. (12) Winston de Wardt, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 26
14. (16) David Greco, Italy, 26
15. (15) Jimmy Holden, Tiona, Pa., 25
16. (10) Richard Heistand, Sunny Isles, Fla., 22 laps (retired)

Race length: 26 laps of 1.53-mile, 7-turn road course for 39.8 miles
Time of race: 25 minutes, 08.438 seconds
Winner’s average speed: 94.938 mph
Margin of victory: 2.261 seconds
Lap leaders: Vorrath, 1 – 2;Bonilla, 3 – 4; Varsha 5 – 15; Vorrath 16 – 26
Fastest race lap: Vorrath, :57.116, lap 11
Fastest qualifier: Vorrath, :57.193

SBNC Points standings, after 6 of 14 rounds:
1) Gerardo Bonilla, 109
2) Jordy Vorrath, 78
3) Matt Varsha, 74
4) Cole Nelson, 69
5) Lorenzo Mandarino, 48
6) Alan Sciuto, 42
7) Pablo Sanchez Lopez, 41
8) Garrett Zine, 40
9) Paul Albert, 38
10) David Greco, 33

Rick Roso

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