Trebing and Piscitell rule the South

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Saturday, April 11, 2009 A week after their counterparts on the left coast completed their 2008/2009 campaigns, the drivers of the Skip Barber Southern Race Series and MAZDASPEED Challenge South returned to Sebring International Raceway for their season finales. Two MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development drivers, Dennis Trebing and Justin Piscitell picked up their respective series titles; the first for Trebing as he heads into the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda and the second for Piscitell, who debuts next month in the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup.

Group 1, Race 1 (Southern Championship)
After a strong debut in February at Sebring, James Adams put on a clinic in Race 1. After a chaotic qualifying session that saw more than half the field sent to the back for spins, the Costa Rican driver started 11th, but quickly made his way through the field. By the end of Lap 1, Adams was third behind polesitter John Potter and third place starter Jim Booth. Adams dispatched with Booth and set off after Potter. As the laps to go counted down, Adams inched closer to leader Potter. Coming into the final lap, the gap between the leaders was less than a second. Catching a tow from the leader coming onto the back straight, Adams popped on Potter, taking the point as the pair went into Turn 17. In a classic Sebring finish, James Adams held off John Potter for his first Skip Barber Race Series victory with a margin of victory of just three-tenths of a second. Jim Booth crossed the line about 19 seconds back for third, ahead of Ben Jopling, who took fourth place in front of the pair of Oleskii and Igor Tramrozov, the former beating the latter to the line by a mere .061 sec. Ron Hayter came in seventh, while Harsha Sen, Jim Kettelkamp and Stephen Mayer rounded out the top ten.

James Adams accepts the traditional ice water bath after his first Race Series win.

Group 1, Race 2
After coming from 11th to first in Race 1, starting from pole for Race 2 made for an anticlimactic run for James Adams. Adams checked out on the field, taking victory by a clean 10 seconds over John Potter. Ben Jopling improved on his Race 1 result, besting Jim Booth for third place by three-tenths. Harsha Sen rounded out the top five, followed by Olesksi Tramrozov, Alex Kirby and Ron Hayter, with Anthony Maioriello and Paul Roberts rounding out the top ten. Things got bumpy early, literally, as Igor Chapovskyy, Stephen Mayer and Jim Kettelkamp got together in Turn 7 on the opening lap. While Chapovskyy and Mayer ultimately returned to the fray after their mandatory safety check in the pits, finishing 13th and 14th respectively, Kettelkamp was sent to the house early and finished 15th.

Group 2, Race 1 (MAZDASPEED Challenge South)
A field of 21 (!) took the green for Race 1 of the MAZDASPEED Challenge decider. Coming into the finale, Justin Piscitell held a scant 15 point lead over challenger Angelo Dinkov. Dinkov started Race 1 in the hole as a crash in qualifying relegated him to an 18th starting position compared to Piscitell’s pole. With fifteen points (and 17 positions) to make up, Dinkov put the bit between his teeth and took off. At the drop of the green, Dinkov started knocking ‘em down. By the end of Lap 1 he was up to seventh. By Lap 2 he was in fourth. The closer Dinkov got to the front, the more difficult the passes became, but by Lap 4 Dinkov took second from James Lustman and set off after leader Piscitell. After taking four laps of the scheduled nine to clear the field there just wasn’t enough time to challenge Justin Piscitell, who came through for a comfortable victory, 14 seconds clear of the charging Dinkov. James Lustman held station for a fine third place ahead of Wart Herst, Jr. and Steven Lee Randall, who came in fifth overall and first in the Randall class. Stephan Nakamura was sixth ahead of D.J. Randall (seventh overall; second in Randall class), Brad Randall (eighth, third) and Dan Moen. John Snyder completed the top ten.

Justin Piscitell on his way to his second title in as many seasons.

The result of Race 1 was a three point gain for Justin Piscitell in the MAZDASPEED Challenge South points, now 18 points clear of the hard charging Angelo Dinkov heading into Race 2.

Group 2, Race 2
With the title combatants sharing the front row, the final race of the season set up to be an exciting, winner-take-all affair. Justin Piscitell led from pole at the green, opening an early lead on Angelo Dinkov. James Lustman and Ward Herst battled for third early while from his tenth starting position Andrew Pasquale was on the move; taking Lustman for fourth and Herst for third by Lap 5, a lap after Dinkov took the lead from Piscitell. Lustman began to fade before a mechanical issue dropped him from the running with one lap to go. Meanwhile, the front two dueled for the balance of the race with Angelo Dinkov ultimately winning the battle by .15 of a second over Justin Piscitell, while Piscitell won the war and his second MAZDASPEED Challenge title by six points (net) over a game Dinkov. Andrew Pasquale held on for third over Ward Herst and D.J. Randall, the trio covered by a mere 1.25 seconds. Stevan Nakamura matched his Race 1 result with a sixth ahead of Steven Lee Randall, while Dan Moon and John Snyder rounded out the top ten.

Group 3, Race 1 (Southern Championship)
While the MAZDASPEED Challenge title came down to two drivers, there were up to five drivers with at least a mathematic chance at the Southern Race Series title. Dennis Trebing held a 25-point lead on second place Michael Dцrrbecker and 36 points on third place Robert Larocca. Andrew Chinnici (41 points back) held fourth and Mateo Perez (48 points back) held fifth coming into the Sebring finale.

Race 1 started with Chinnici on pole ahead of Trebing and Dцrrbecker. It didn’t take long for the main title contenders to get around Chinnici and battle for the win. Contact between Mateo Perez and Thomas Bonatz in the hairpin on Lap 5 sent Bonatz spinning off. The resulting time penalty dropped both drivers down in the order and mathematically out of contention for the championship. Out front the order stabilized with Dennis Trebing leading Michael Dцrrbecker and Andrew Chinnici and that is how they finished; Trebing taking a victory by less than a tenth of a second over Dцrrbecker. Meanwhile a few seconds back Chinnici had his hands full with the hard charging David Libby, who came from 13th at the start to challenge for third, ultimately come up short by .090 of a second. Robert Larocca came across the line in fifth, followed by Dom Bastien and Jeff Relic. Jim Norman and Michael Rink were eighth and ninth respectively while Mateo picked up a post-penalty 10th.

The Race 1 result thinned the championship herd considerably, with the championship coming down to two drivers: Dennis Trebing, holding a 28 point advantage over Michael Dцrrbecker and just needing to stay on the road in Race 2 to clinch the title.

Group 3, Race 2
With the championship and the glory on the line, Race 2 became an epic battle between the two remaining title contenders, Dennis Trebing and Michael Dцrrbecker. With drivers on a hair trigger, trying to gain the slightest advantage on her opponent, the first attempt at a start was waved off, resulting in an eight-lap race to decide it all. Trebing led from pole, but quickly lost the advantage to Dцrrbecker, who led for the next two laps before Trebing reassumed the point.

Behind the lead duo, David Libby engaged in a battle for third with Andrew Chinnici and Robert Larocca; the trio exchanging positions throughout the middle of the race. In the end Libby picked up third, with Chinnici in fourth and Larocca in fifth. Jeff Relic finished off his season with a sixth place finish, ahead of Thomas Bonatz and Dom Bastien while Danny Woo and Jim Norman rounded out the top ten

Dennis Trebing sweeps the weekend on his way to the 2008-2009 Skip Barber Southern Race Series title.

Out front the duel between Trebing and Dцrrbecker continued until the order stabilized with three laps to go. Dennis Trebing took the Race 2 victory and the 2008-2009 Skip Barber Southern Race Series championship by three-tenths and 31 points respectively over runner up Michael Dцrrbecker. For Trebing, who picked up a podium weeks earlier at the opening race of the 2009 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, this is his first Skip Barber Race Series championship.

Dennis Trebing accepts his trophy from Skip Barber Race Series’ Kerry Mosher

Master’s Championship Shoot-out
David Libby showed that he wasn’t ready to leave the weekend without at least one visit to the top step of the rostrum when he stormed to victory in the Master’s Championship Shoot-out race to close out the weekend. Starting fourth, Libby worked his way around Jim Norman, Dom Bastien and Michael Rink for the lead by the end of Lap 1 and checked out on the field for a comfortable 13 second victory over the Norman/Bastien/Rink trio. While Norman and Bastien battled for third, Rink fell back into a race for fourth with Harsha Sen, which Rink ultimately won, besting Sen by a little over two tenths for the spot. Gus Doppes crossed the line in sixth ahead of Dan Moen and Stephen Mayer, with Ed Wilkinson and Jim Kettelkamp completing the top ten ahead of Bill Scoville while Brian Schimp rounded out the field.

Is it 2002? Nah, just Jason Holehouse taking one of the old Barber Pro Series cars out for a spin.

Final Points Standings
Southern Race Series – Top Ten
1. Dennis Trebing, 335
2. Michael Dцrrbecker, 304
3. Andrew Chinnici, 282
4. Robert Larocca, 281
5. Mateo Perez, 263
6. Thomas Bonatz, 247
7. Jim Norman-G, 243
8. Dom Bastien-G, 241
9. Michael Rink-G, 215
10. David Libby-G, 212

MAZDASPEED Challenge South – Top Ten
1. Justin Piscitell, 274
2. Angelo Dinkov, 268
3. Ward Herst-M, 215
4. Stephan Nakamura, 205
5. John Snyder, 182
6. David Levine, 117
7. Steve Phillips-G, 108
8. Andrew Pasquale, 98
9. Bruce Andersen-G, 90
10. Dan Moen-G, 83

Jim Altemus

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