Q1: Matt Varsha Takes the SBNC Field to School
Thursday, May 12, 2005 LIME ROCK PARK, Conn. – Unleashing some of the promise we saw over the winter, when Matt Varsha handily won the Skip Barber Southern Series title, today he stuck his R/T 2000 on the pole for round five at Lime Rock Park of the much tougher Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER. It was his first career SBNC pole and was done in relatively dominating fashion. Varsha’s :57.487 / 95.813 mph lap was .140 clear of second fastest David Greco.
Yea, .14 of a second doesn’t appear ”dominating,” but remember, Lime Rock is a short, very quick track — there is no threshold braking to be found amongst its 1.5 miles — and a tenth of a second here is the equivalent of a second or more at longer circuits.
Speaking of one second; that’s the amount of time that covers the first dozen drivers, while 1.3 seconds covers 16 of the 17 entries.
”Man, I’ve been the man today,” Varsha said in an almost incredulous tone, as he sat in pitlane for the last 10 minutes of the session, gambling his lap would stick, saving his BFGs for tomorrow’s race. Mind you, he wasn’t bragging. Rather, he was unexpectedly happy that someone else — namely, Gerardo Bonilla — hadn’t gone faster. Bonilla has more laps here than you can shake an A-arm at, and in fact was just one one-hundredth of a second behind Varsha in morning practice, but the points leader could muster no more than a third row effort in qualifying.
Taking a cue from Gerardo Bonilla, who often employed the same tactic last year, Varsha parked his Dodge with 10 minutes to go, waiting to see if anyone else could bust a move. When the checker flew — Matt’s pointing it out to the pitlane hangers-on — he had his first career SBNC pole.
For Greco, the young Italian with very little race car experience — some test days in a Formula Renault are about it — every track is a new track yet he continues to impress mightily. He joined the SBNC last month at VIR and finished third and eighth, and now he’s on the front row here. Greco’s racecraft belies his experience, and the Toronto-based driver who earned his racing chops in Brazilian karting will give fellow 18-year-old Varsha all he can handle. As will Jordy Vorrath (third), Lorenzo Mandarino, Alan Sciuto and Bonilla.
”The car feels just great, I’m effing solid-flat through the Downhill,” Varsha blurted to (fast) friend Matt Franc (and out of earshot of Father Bob). Franc is a Skippy driver who’s won more than a few races at Lime Rock in Eastern Regional competition and knows a thing or two about getting around it. ”First pole?” someone asked after the checker finally flew. ”Heck, ya, I’ve never even been top three!” Varsha said. Well, that’s not exactly the case — he started third and second, respectively, at the season openers in Sebring — but forgive his error, he was totally psyched about the pole…
Starting grid, Round 5, SBNC at Lime Rock Park:
1. Matt Varsha, Atlanta, :57.487 / 95.813 mph
2. David Greco, Italy, :57.627 / 95.580 mph
3. Jordy Vorrath, White Rock, B.C., Can., :57.634
4. Lorenzo Mandarino, Burnaby, B.C., Can., :57.708
5. Alan Sciuto, Orange, Calif., :57.720
6. Gerardo Bonilla, Orlando, Fla., :57.742
7. Cole Nelson, Atwater, Calif., :57.814
8. Garrett Zine, Rio Linda, Calif., :57.830
9. Pablo Sanchez Lopez, Mexico, :57.916
10. Peter Ludwig, New Paltz, N.Y., :58.194
11. Winston de Wardt, Steamboat Springs, Colo., :58.321
12. Paul Albert, Ottawa, Ont., Can., :58.516
13. Casey Neal, Middletown, Ohio, :58.606
14. Chris Cook, Coopersburg, Pa., :58.674
15. Andy Rossetto, Grafton, Wis., :58.770
18. Jimmy Holden, Tiona, Pa., 1:00.267
16. Richard Heistand, Sunny Isles, Fla., crash