Vorrath Wins Race — But One Day Too Late

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005 LEXINGTON, Ohio – In 2004, Gerardo Bonilla won four races in the Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER, but finished second to champion Marco Andretti, who won once. This year, Bonilla again won four times, but this time he’s the champion. And a $100,000 richer.

The year’s last two races would be at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a perfect venue to decide a championship. Bonilla, Jordy Vorrath and Cole Nelson were the only three drivers in the title hunt. Bonilla led Vorrath by 13 points, who in turn was a further six up on Nelson. Coming in, they all had their bona fides: Bonilla, three wins, three poles, four fastest-laps; Vorrath, four wins, two poles, two fastest-laps; Nelson, one victory and a plethora of podiums (six). Add to this mix Matt Varsha, who was out of the title chase but nevertheless had won at Mont-Tremblant, had three pole positions to his credit and had set fastest race-lap three times. Andy Rossetto and Jonathan Goring had wins notched in their belts, too.

On Tuesday, Varsha took another pole and proceeded to lead the first 11 laps, with Bonilla chained to his gearbox. A small miscue in the Keyhole unlocked the door, so to speak, and Bonilla ran through it on the long drive down to Turn Seven, where he popped inside to take the lead and six laps later, the win. If Vorrath was no closer than fifth place, the $100,000 was Bonilla’s. “I was doing the math,” Bonilla said. “I knew he was at best in fourth, because I saw Matt and Cole in my mirrors.” Where was he? Fifth. “The car, man, it was ‘pushy-loose.’ Understeer, oversteer, I couldn’t figure it out,” Vorrath said. He had made a last-minute car change and that may have hurt him.

For Bonilla, crossing under the checkers in P1 was a great moment. Clinching a championship by winning a race is hard to top.

That made Wednesday’s finale “fun race” for Bonilla. So what did he do but go put it on pole in the morning qualifying session. Vorrath was second quick, Nelson and Varsha on the second row.

This one was a barn-burner: Seven lead changes in the first nine laps, as Nelson and Bonilla played musical chairs at the front. But the “front” was never more than a few feet upstream from Varsha, Vorrath and Garrett Zine, which often looked less like a train and more like a pace lap as side-by-side was the order of the day. When Vorrath rocketed from third to first on lap nine — great car control as he took the lead in Seven — it gave us no confidence that it would stay that way. It didn’t. Nelson grabbed the lead with four to go, but Vorrath would not be denied and snatched it back a lap later. Throw a blanket over the first four cars as they crossed the line: Vorrath, Varsha, Nelson (fastest lap) and Bonilla. Zine did well to take fifth.

“You hear people say it, but it doesn’t really sink in. Winning a championship is hard, hard, hard,” Bonilla said. “You can never let up, but you always gotta finish well. This is awesome. Now all I have to do is find a good Star Mazda ride!”

Round 13 of 14, September 6, 2005, Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, 15-turn, 2.4-mile (no chicane) road course
Start position in parentheses

1. (2) Gerardo Bonilla, Orlando, Fla., 17.5 laps, 87.410 mph winning average speed
2. (1) Matt Varsha, Atlanta, Ga., 17.5 laps
3. (5) Cole Nelson, Atwater, Calif., 17.5
4. (3) Garrett Zine, Rio Linda, Calif., 17.5
5. (4) Jordy Vorrath, White Rock, B.C., Canada, 17.5
6. (6) Paul Albert, Ottawa, Ont., Canada, 17.5
7. (10) Kyle Lawrence, Port Huron, Mich., 17.5
8. (7) Andy Rossetto, Grafton, Wis., 17.5
9. (9) Richard Heistand, Sunny Isles, Fla., 17.5
10. (8) Jonathan Goring, Norfolk, Conn., 17.5
11. (11) Winston de Wardt, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 17.5
12. (12) Logan Gomez, Crown Point, Ind., 17.5
13. (13) Jimmy Holden, Tiona, Pa., 17.5

Race length: 17.5 laps of 2.4-mile, 15-turn road course for 42.0 miles
Time of race: 28 minutes, 00.358 seconds
Winner’s average speed: 87.410 mph
Margin of victory: 0.894 seconds
Lap leaders: Varsha, 1 – 11; Bonilla, 12 – 17
Fastest race lap: Varsha, 1:34.558 / 91.372 mph, lap 15
Fastest qualifier: Varsha, 1:34.413 / 91.513 mph

Round 14 of 14, September 6, 2005, Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, 15-turn, 2.4-mile (no chicane) road course
Start position in parentheses

1. (2) Jordy Vorrath, White Rock, B.C., Canada, 17.5 laps, 87.108 mph winning average speed
2. (4) Matt Varsha, Atlanta, Ga., 17.5 laps
3. (3) Cole Nelson, Atwater, Calif., 17.5
4. (1) Gerardo Bonilla, Orlando, Fla.,17.5
5. (5) Garrett Zine, Rio Linda, Calif., 17.5
6. (6) Kyle Lawrence, Port Huron, Mich., 17.5
7. (7) Andy Rossetto, Grafton, Wis., 17.5
8. (8) Paul Albert, Ottawa, Ont., Canada, 17.5
9. (9) Richard Heistand, Sunny Isles, Fla., 17.5
10. (11) Winston de Wardt, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 17.5
11. (13) Logan Gomez, Crown Point, Ind., 17.5
12. (12) Jimmy Holden, Tiona, Pa., 13.5 (wreck)
13. (10) Jonathan Goring, Norfolk, Conn., 11.5 (gearbox)

Race length: 17.5 laps of 2.4-mile, 15-turn road course for 42.0 miles
Time of race: 28 minutes, 06.175 seconds
Winner’s average speed: 87.108 mph
Margin of victory: 0.364 seconds
Lap leaders: Bonilla, 1; Nelson, 2; Bonilla, 3; Nelson, 4; Bonilla, 5;
Nelson, 6 – 7; Bonilla, 8; Vorrath, 9 – 13; Nelson, 14; Vorrath, 15 – 17
Fastest race lap: Nelson, 1:34.669 / 91.265 mph, lap 14
Fastest qualifier: Bonilla, 1:34.410 / 91.516 mph

Final Points Standings
1. Gerardo Bonilla, 210
2. Jordy Vorrath, 195
3. Cole Nelson, 186
4. Matt Varsha, 165
5. Andy Rossetto, 136
6. Garrett Zine, 126
7. Paul Albert, 109
8. Winston de Wardt, 73
9. Richard Heistand, 64
10. Jonathan Goring, 60

Click here for PDF of complete points standings and box score results

090705a
Race One: Textbook example of SBNC competitiveness, as Matt Varsha (blue #5) and Cole Nelson (white #81) go side by side in Seven.

090705b
Race One: Bonilla’s victory on Tuesday came with a little bonus…

090705c
Race One: Gerardo’s patented podium leap, for obvious reasons!

090705d
Race Two: Cole Nelson’s “excessive over-rotation” in front of eventual winner Jordy Vorrath.

090705e
Race Two: Folks, this is not the pace lap. It’s just one small sample of the incredible racing we saw in the second race. This is the front pack, cresting the off-camber lefthander, Turn Eight.

090705f
Race Two: Jordy Vorrath on his cool-down lap.

090705g
Race Two: Left to right, Varsha (P2), winner Vorrath, third-place Nelson.

090705h
At the awards luncheon, Celebrity Presenter Bob Varsha joins Senior V.P. Divina Galica in handing over the big check.

090705i
This is what a cool champion’s trophy looks like… way to go, Bobo, make us proud as you climb the next step…

Words & photos, Rick Roso

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