Rounds 5 & 6, Western Series
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 Rounds five and six of the 2007-2008 Western Series were at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. There were two Sportsman groups, one Championship group, and another Skip Barber MX-5 Cup group. The weather was great, as was the racing. Below is an overview of the weekend…
Brian Skinner and Kevin Tittle duked it out until Tittle spun and fell off the road on lap 12. After two laps of caution to get Tittle’s car out of the gravel, Maryeve Dufault got around Kevin Woods and then Skinner to take the lead and crossed the line first. But she was handed a stop-and-go, 15 sec. penalty (she was classified seventh) for passing under yellow, so the win went to Skinner – his first – with Ethan Stone second and Fabrice Weill third. Sarena Traver was the only driver to get into the 1:42s as she worked her way to fifth at the finish but she too was given a penalty (for contact with Kevin Woods) and ended up 10th. When it all shook out, fourth was Walter Kuhn, with Sunho Lee and Ryan Burns fifth and sixth. Eighth and ninth were John Candeias and Michael Lee.
Michael Self had an eventful weekend. On Saturday, he had been grouped with the Championship drivers (G2), but he was a bit too rambunctious in the warm-up and crashed. On Sunday, Self joined the Sportsman folks for their second race; he would start 15th. By the end of the first lap, Self was up to ninth. Leading were Skinner, Traver, Weill, Stone and Dufault. Traver took the lead on lap two, just before an FCY was called to get Kuhn’s stricken (electrical) F2000 out of danger in T5. Two laps later on the re-start, it was still Traver, Skinner and Weill, but the fifth lap saw Weill turn ‘er around in 11, handing third to Stone. By this time, Self was up to fifth. But tyhen we had to go full course yellow again because fourth-place Woods put it in the fence in T4. The re-start was with nine laps to go and while Traver was fending off Skinner for the lead, Self was continuing to climb and was soon chasing Skinner down for P2. On the last lap, Self went from third to first, helped by both Traver and Skinner spinning out in T6! So Self won, Stone got second and Skinner recovered quickly, holding on to P3 (and also setting fastest lap). David Stubbs and Sunho Lee rounded out the top five.
There was little to choose, speedwise, between Connor De Phillippi, Revere Greist and Jeff Kaiser. Each of their fastest laps was within 1 puny 10th of a second, all of them accomplished on either lap 8 or lap 9, as they ran as a tight pack the whole race. For karter De Phillippi, it was his first win, a hair more than 1 second over Greist, Kaiser a further 1.5 seconds back. Emil Sildos took over fourth from Gary Williams, Jr., at mid-race, while sixth was Alan Baia, ahead of Brent Milner, John Potter, Gary Manheimer and John Scalmanini. Michael Ramies had climbed to seventh halfway through, but a busted driveshaft ended his run, officially 12th behind Roberto Dalton.
Other than a lap one, T2 bump between Baia and Manheimer, this race was clean and green the whole way. With Greist not in (he only did Saturday’s race), De Phillippi was pretty much unchallenged, leaving the scrapping to Kaiser, Sildos, Williams, Jr., and Milner for P2. Kaiser was the first to fold, running out of room in Turn 10 and going four-off. (He re-joined, got back to second place, but still had to make his stop. When Kaiser puled in on lap eight, he got out of the car, knowing the race was lost.) Now it was Sildos and Williams entertaining the crowd and at the flag, Sildos was just half-a-second up on Williams. Ramies came a solid fourth, ahead of Milner, Potter, Dalton, Scalmanini, Baia and Manheimer.
There were a bit too many four-offs, spins and some wheel to wheel contact in this race, but most of it was mid-pack. Up front, it was the Sarena Traver Show, as she led all but one of the 16 laps. Brian Skinner worried her somewhat – he led lap two — while Jonathan Barcena was showing his nose to Skinner until a four-off in T2 nixed his chances. Mid-race, there was a two-lap full course yellow to get David Stubbs out of the kitty litter but Traver kept the lead the rest of the way. Second was Skinner, trailed by Rory Handle, Dmitry Sumin, Barcena, David Anderson and in seventh, Ross Jaffe. Frank Cusack and Ian Costa MDNF’d. For the record, Alan Baia was the first across the line. As the lone Championship-group driver, he started last on the field but was almost instantly into the top five. Baia took the overall lead from Traver three laps from the end.
Traver hunted Costa all race long and, following an FCY two-thirds of the way in, passed Costa for the lead. Two laps later Costa got it stuck in the Corkscrew at the same time that Skinner got around Barcena. With Costa done, the win was Traver’s, with Skinner second and Barcena third. Sumin, Bailey, David Anderson, Costa, Maryeve Dufault, Frank Cusack and Dan Cheadle rounded out the top 10.
G4R1 & 2 (MX-5)
Two more Skip Barber MX-5 Cup non-points races were run, as we prepare to start official championships in early May, and when the first was over, Justin Piscitell beat SBRS Driving School car boss Jared Feekes and Brent Milner. Ralph Salomon and Joe Piscitell were fourth and fifth. In the second race, Feekes got his revenge, finishing 3 seconds up on Milner and Justin Piscitell, with Michael Ramies and Joe P. rounding out the top five. Boy, we can’t wait for the MX-5 points series to start…
No rest for the racers as the Southern Series contingent heads to the way-fun Grand-Am layout at Homestead Miami Speedway January 25-27. Immediately afterward, the next weekend is the 11th annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out at Sebring International. Then, two weeks after that is the always highly anticipated Southern/Western Combo weekend (February 15-17).
One more important reminder… If you want to ‘‘tune-up’’ for either the new Western or Eastern Skip Barber Mazda MX-5 Cup Race Series, we have scheduled four “spring training” races for you to choose from. These are one-off (non-points), pre-season races ahead of the championships’ debut (which begin in May; we’ll announce their schedules soon…). The price is $4,195, which includes Practice, Qualifying and two races. Come race the fast and fun Mazda MX-5 Cup Miatas!
Skip Barber MX-5 Cup “Pre-Season” Race Series Schedule
January 25 – 27, Homestead-Miami Speedway
February 8 – 10, Road Atlanta
March 28 – 30, Sebring International Raceway
April 4 – 6, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca