SBN Sebring: De Phillippi sweeps weekend at the 12 Hour

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Saturday, March 21, 2009 SEBRING, Fla. (Mar.21) – The points standings will show that Connor De Phillippi won both races of the opening round of the 2009 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda from pole. His two races at the 3.7 mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway couldn’t have been any more different.

Dennis Trebing came back from two on-track incidents earlier in the week to set a quick time early in Race 1 qualifying with at 2:23.297 sec. before the session was stopped after three laps for contact in Turn 17 between Ian Costa, Elliot Bachelart and Michael Vincec. While Costa and Bachelart were able to continue, Vincec’s car was too damaged to continue. After the cleanup, the session turned into a two lap dash for the pole, with De Phillippi catching a good tow on the last lap of the session to take pole with a 2:22.732. Trebing’s time was good enough for the outside front row. Sean Rayhall slotted into third on the grid for Race 1 with Matthew Mair next to him on Row 2, while Victor Pedrosa rounded out the top five.

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This was as close as the field got to Connor Di Phillippi in Race 1

Pole sitter De Phillippi got a jump on the field at the start of Race 1 and was off; the San Clemente Calif. driver taking advantage of his experience and the raciness of his competitors to gap the field before a meaningful draft could develop. Behind him, a pack containing Rayhall, Trebing, Pedrosa, Mair and Kyle Marcelli began a race-long battle for the two remaining podium spots. The beginning of Lap 2 saw Sage Karam spin at the exit of Turn 1, sending the cars of Vincec, Ashley Freiberg, Julian Albarracin and Dom Bastien off course or spinning to avoid him. Amazingly, all drivers avoided hitting the barriers and each other and continued, with Bastien coming out the worst of it; stalled and pointing nose-first at the wall, though he too would continue.

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While Dennis Trebing (#62), Sean Rayhall (#15) Matthew Mair (#56) and Victor Pedrosa (#58) mixed it up… (Photo courtesy Helix In-Car Camera)

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De Phillippi checked out on the field (Photo courtesy Helix In-Car Camera)

Victor Pedrosa’s race came to an early end as contact between him and Jason Toft in the hairpin on Lap 9 put him out of the race. Back out front Connor De Phillippi continued to stretch his advantage as the quartet of drivers behind him battled it out. In the end, he cruised to a 2.312 second victory over Kyle Marcelli and Dennis Trebing. This was De Phillippi’s first career Skip Barber National victory and he was obviously happy with the result.

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The champagne flies for (l. to r.) Dennis Trebing (3rd), Connor De Phillippi (1st) and Kyle Marcelli (2nd)

“It was amazing.” said the first time winner, “My goal was to get out in front and break away from the pack. My plan is to execute again tomorrow.”

It didn’t quite work out that way…

Spring time in Highland County, Fla. brings heavy morning fog, and it was no different when Race 2 qualifying was scheduled to roll off Friday morning. After a lengthy delay, cars rolled out of the pits as the fog began to burn off and visibility made conditions safe for racing. Unfortunately, as soon as the fog rolled out it rolled back in and the session was scrubbed before all cars could complete a representative lap. The grid for Race 2 was then determined by each driver’s second quickest lap from Thursday’s Race 1 qualifying. The result was the same top three, with Connor De Phillippi back on point with a 2:23.409, ahead of Dennis Trebing’s 2:23.831 and Sean Rayhall’s 2:23.842. Kyle Marcelli broke up the order from Race 1, the Barrie Ontario driver clocking in a 2:24.553 for fourth while Davie, Fla.’s Victor Pedrosa equaled his Race 1 starting position of fifth with a 2:24.743. Two drivers hurt the most by the loss of the qualifying session were Stevan McAleer and Michael Vincec, who ended up 22nd and 23rd respectively. Vincec, whose qualifying session was shortened by the incident on Thursday, recovered to record a 15th place finish. However it was McAleer who put in the drive of the weekend.

Race 2 and this time they were ready for Connor and as the green dropped, Winston, Ga.’s Sean Rayhall got the jump, taking the lead into Turn 1 for what was a race-long battle for the lead between the pair, Kyle Marcelli and Felipe Polehtto, who came from 10th on the start to the lead by Lap 3. The lead changed hands between these four no less than eight times in nine laps. It set up a finish that was classic Skip Barber National.

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This was as comfortable as it got for De Phillippi in Race 2 (Photo courtesy Helix In-Car Camera)

Coming to the white flag, it was Polehtto leading, followed by De Phillippi, Rayhall, Marcelli and Dennis Trebing. Going into Turn 17, Marcelli, going for the win, overcooked the corner while trying to pass the leading Polehtto and allowing Race 1 winner De Phillippi to slip past both to the lead and the win. Polehtto crossed the line in 2nd, a little over a second back as Marcelli recovered to grab the final step on the podium. Rayhall and Trebing, who began the last lap in third and fifth respectively, ended up fifth and sixth behind… Stevan McAleer.

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Marcelli (3rd), Polehtto (2nd) and De Phillippi (1st) congratulate each other on their podium finishes

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Your Race 2 podium joined by Brooke McClelland, Miss Sebring 12 Hour for 2009

McAleer’s weekend to this point was not one he wanted to remember. Among the quick drivers leading up to qualifying, the Glasgow, Scotland driver lost the pack in qualifying, and on a track as dependent on the draft as Sebring, his result was predictable, 22nd for both races. McAleer was as high as eight late in Race 1 before a dust up with Elliot Bachelart resulted in a damaged car and a 21st place finish. Race 2 was a different story, as McAleer, in a replacement SBF2000, put in a drive reminiscent of fellow countryman Allan McNish’s at last year’s Petit Le Mans. By the time he completed his first lap, McAleer passed twelve cars. By Lap 3 he was in a sixth place battle with Matthew Mair and MAZDASPEED Scholarship driver Court Vernon. On the last lap, he got by first Trebing, then Rayhall to score a hard earned fourth.

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Stevan McAleer contemplates the race to come

“It was the hardest I’ve ever had to work in a racecar,” noted McAleer later. “I put on the blinders and tried to get away from the mid-pack group. I really want to thank the Skip Barber mechanics for getting a new car ready for me on short notice that was as good as my first car,” he continued. “If the race were a little longer I might have made a bid for a podium.”

The drivers and crew of BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda have a five-week layoff before the season resumes at Virginia International Raceway April 24-26 with the Rolex SportsCar Series for the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR.

Results BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda

March 19, 2009, round 1 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Sebring International Raceway, 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course
(Starting position in parentheses)

1. (1) Connor De Phillippi, San Clemente, Calif., 10 laps, 24:09.061, 91.922 average speed
2. (6) Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, Ontario, 10 laps, +2.312 sec.
3. (2) Dennis Trebing, Cape Coral, Fla., 10, +3.374
4. (3) Sean Rayhall, Winston, Ga., 10, +3.507
5. (9) Felipe Polehtto, Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 10, +9.237
6. (7) Isaac Lyons, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland, 10, +13.067
7. (4) Matthew Mair, Miami, Fla., 10, +14.592
8. (8) Ian Costa, Danville, Calif., 10, +14.621
9. (11) Court Vernon, Key Biscayne, Fla., 10, +19.444
10. (12) Brett Smrz, Coeur d’Alene, Id., 10, +19.499
11. (10) Arrie Maree, Swift Current, Sask., 10, +19.503
12. (14) Jason Toft, Petaluma, Calif., 10, +21.242
13. (16) Elliot Bachelart, Indianapolis, Ind., 10, +24.517
14. (19) Sage Karam, Nazareth, Penn., 10, +24.567
15. (18) Corey Lewis, Nazareth, Penn., 10, +24.771
16. (15) Thiago Calvet, Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 10, +24.924
17. (17) Julian Albarracin, Bogotб, Colombia, 10, +25.182
18. (23) Michael Vincec, Stouffville, Ont., 10, +25.669
19. (13) Ashley Freiberg, Homer Glen, Ill., 10, +27.076
20. (20) Felix Serralles, Haines City, Fla., 10, +29.422
21. (22) Stevan McAleer, Glasgow, Scotland, 10, +42.263
22. (21) Dom Bastien, West Palm Beach, Fla., 10, +1:26.203
23. (5) Victor Pedrosa, Davie, Fla., 8, +2 laps

Race length: 10 laps of 3.7-mile road course for 37 miles
Time of race: 24 minutes, 09.061 seconds
Conditions: Clear
Margin of victory: 2.312 seconds
Lap leaders: De Phillippi 1-10
Cautions: None
Fastest qualifier: De Phillippi, 2:22.732 / 93.322 mph
Fastest race lap: Polehtto, 2:23.324 / 92.036 mph, lap 5

March 20, 2009, round 2 of 14, BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda
Sebring International Raceway, 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course
(Starting position in parentheses)

1. (1) Connor De Phillippi, San Clemente, Calif., 9 laps, 21:53.204, 91.288 average speed
2. (10) Felipe Polehtto, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 9 laps, +1.070 sec.
3. (4) Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, Ontario, Canada, 9
4. (22) Stevan McAleer, Glasgow, Scotland, 9
5. (3) Sean Rayhall, Winston, Ga., 9
6. (2) Dennis Trebing, Cape Coral, Fla., 9
7. (11) Matthew Mair, Miami, Fla, 9
8. (15) Corey Lewis, Nazareth, Penn., 9
9. (13) Court Vernon, Key Biscayne, Fla., 9
10. (5) Victor Pedrosa, Davie, Fla., 9
11. (7) Jason Toft, Petaluma, Calif., 9
12. (8) Brett Smrz, Coeur d’Alene, Id., 9
13. (16) Sage Karam, Nazareth, Penn., 9
14. (9) Ashley Freiberg, Homer Glen, Ill., 9
15. (23) Michael Vincec, Stouffville, Ontario, Canada, 9
16. (6) Isaac Lyons, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland, 9
17. (20) Ian Costa, Danville, Calif., 9
18. (18) Felix Serralles, Haines City, Fla., 9
19. (12) Arrie Maree, Swift Current, Sask., 9
20. (19) Eliott Bachelart, Indianapolis, Ind., 9
21. (17) Dom Bastien, West Palm Beach, Fla., 9
22. (14) Thiago Calvet, Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 9
23. (21) Julian Albarracin, Bogotб, Colombia, 1

Race length: 9 laps of 3.7-mile road course for 33.3 miles
Time of race: 21 minutes, 53.204 seconds
Conditions: Clear
Margin of victory: 1.070 seconds
Lap leaders: Rayhall 1; Marcelli 2; Polehtto 3; De Phillippi 4; Rayhall 5; De Phillippi 6-7; Polehtto 8; De Phillippi 9
Cautions: None
Fastest qualifier: De Phillippi, 2:23.409 / 92.881 mph
Fastest race lap: Serralles, 2:23.828 / 92.61 mph, lap 8

2009 Skip Barber National Points Standings after 2 of 14 rounds

1. Connor De Phillippi, 72
2. Kyle Marcelli, 62
3. Felipe Polehtto, 58
4. Dennis Trebing, 55
5. Sean Rayhall, 54
6. Matthew Mair, 48
7. Court Vernon, 44
8. Brett Smrz, 40
8. Isaac Lyons, 40
9. Corey Lewis, 39
9. Jason Toft, 39
10. Stevan McAleer, 38
11. Ian Costa, 37
12. Sage Karam, 35
13. Arrie Maree, 32
14. Ashley Freiberg, 29
14. Elliot Bachelart, 29
14. Michael Vincec, 29
14. Victor Pedrosa, 29
15. Felix Serralles, 24
15. Thiago Calvet, 24
16. Julian Albarracin, 22
17. Dom Bastien, 19

Jim Altemus

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