Western Series, Rounds 3 & 4
Tuesday, December 13, 2005 The third and fourth races of the 2005-2006 Western Series (and round two of the Triple Crown championship) were at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It was one of the larger Western events in recent memory, with 50+ entries. There were two Sportsman groups and two Championship groups, plus 10 drivers in the Triple Crown race. The Sportsman folks in particular put on a great show. Not only did each of their four races have a different winner, but all four were first-time winners! And in one of the Championship groups, Alexander Rossi broke the R/T 2000 track record (held by MHP) in qualifying — then broke it again in his Sunday race. Plus, there was a really good party at Baja Cantina Friday night…
In this 16-lapper, Fidencio Guzman led 14 laps. Jeff Westphal led one lap, as did Scott Schroeder. But Schroeder led the only one that counts – the last one. He got under Guzman going into Andretti on the white flag lap to takeh is first win. Westphal had led lap one, from his outside front-row starting spot, but polesitter Guzman got the lead back when Westphal phell off the road in Andretti the next time around! Guzman was still the leader when we went FCY for laps eight to 10 to yank Dimitri Delegrammaticas out of the kitty litter, and on the re-start he stayed there. But Schroeder was patience and didn’t make his move until the very end. Way to go, Scott! This was his first-ever Race Weekend, after racing in that “other” series… Meanwhile, Westphal made up for his lap-two oof by working his way all the back to P3 by the end. Gray Gregory and Sarena Traver rounded out the top five.
Guzman led flag-to-flag and set fastest race lap when his primary nemesis, Schroeder, sadly had to pull off with an MDNF early on. Guzman didn’t lead the first seven corners – that was Westphal – but he snatched the lead in the Corkscrew. Westphal stuck right to him, however, and regained the point on lap four, but the lead was swapped again on lap seven. On that lap, Hasha Sen put it in the gravel in Turn Six, so we went full course yellow on lap eight. After the restart Guzman fended off all Westphal attempts and won. And guess what? This was hisfirst Race Weekend, too. Drive of the race? Gotta be Delegrammaticas: Started 13th and sliced and diced his way to third! Gray Gregory Gray was a fine fourth, with Nick Spencer fifth.
We saw lots of this! Four first-time winners, ALL in Sportsman, and ALL during their first-ever Race Weekends (just so you know, Scott Schroeder, Gabriel Garza, Jr., Fidencio Guzman and Luis Martinez all had previous racing experience…)
Alexander “Valentino” Rossi was untroubled start to finish, beating Patrick Barrett (under the weather, by the way) by a bit more than 15 seconds at the checker, with Tom Roberts a further nine seconds back in P3 (Roberts had passed Jeff Kaiser in the Corkscrew early on). Frontrunner Paul Bonilla started on the front row alongside polesitter Rossi, but he couldn’t stay on the road in Turn Two at the start. Still, Bonilla did well to climb back to fifth at the end, just behind fourth-place Kaiser.
Tremendous job by Rossi… He led the first three laps, but he and Barrett had made contact in Andretti at the start and so had to come in for his safety check, which he did on lap four. That put Roberts in the lead. When Rossi rejoined (fifth), he went after Duncan Ende and got him on lap six; then he chased down Bonilla and got him on lap eight. By the next circuit, Rossi was your leader, having dispatched both Roberts and Kaiser, and led the final seven laps for an impressive victory. With two laps to go, Bonilla got around Roberts for P2. Kaiser and Barrett rounded out the top five.
Alan Baia parlayed his P2 starting spot into the race lead after one lap, but polesitter Gabriel Garza, Jr., took it back the next time around. Though Garza led the rest of the way, Baia stayed right with him and was less than a half-second behind at the finish. Luis Martinez was third, but Peter Husser had hounded him relentlessly throughout. Stephane Roncada recovered from a lap-three spin to take fifth.
This was a strange one, boys and girls. First, we see leader Garza abandon the lead by going agricultural in Turn Three on the first lap, handing the point to Martinez. Two laps later, Roncada makes a great move in 11 for the lead. So for the next seven laps, it was Roncada, Martinez, Baia. The it got weird… On lap 11 Husser got himself stuck in the kitty litter in Turn 11, which brought out the full course yellow. But leader Roncada got a little confused – or maybe he was suffering from L.E.S. (Low Eyes Syndrome) — when the pace car didn’t pick him up. Regardless, Race Control red-flagged the thing so we could properly re-order the field, including putting Roncada at the back and Martinez in the lead. So, eight minutes later we greened a re-start, but mid-pack, Turn 11 turned into a mess when three cars got together – including Roncada! It was full track-blockage, and since we were inside of two laps remaining, the race was red-flagged again. Reverting to the last completed lap, the winner was Martinez, followed by Baia and Garza.
Kaiser ran away with this one, leading all 15 laps. Ted Ballou was running second for the first five laps but eventually fell prey to Tim Traver, then Alex Doman (setting fastest race-lap in the process), then Charles Anti. Traver’s P2 was four seconds adrift of Kaiser, while Doman’s third place was another four seconds back, with Anti and Ballou rounding out the top five.
Kaiser did it again, leading the entire race, made a little bit easier when one of his main competitors, Doman, crashed out in T6 while running third. That caused a three-lap FCY, and the order was Kaiser/Traver/Anti for the re-start on lap 11. Traver got a killer exit out of T5 and got underneath Kaiser going into Six, and it was an exciting six-car train through the Corkscrew. But Kaiser repaid the favor before they got back to start/finish and he led the rest of the way, beating Traver by just about a half-second. Anti and Ballou were third and fourth, with Sarah Wahl a solid fifth, from ninth on the grid. Doman again put up the fastest lap, prior to his off.
Western Series Triple Crown, Race Two
Rossi was on fire, putting up six consecutive 1:41s at the beginning of the race while everyone else was in the :42s and :43s. Rossi’s case was also helped by Kaiser’s big slide for life in Turn Six on the second lap, slowing everybody down behind him as they watched him make the brilliant save. So the podium – Rossi, Barrett, Kaiser – was decided by the end of lap one. The best race was for fourth, where Alex Bolanos, Dom Bastien, Roncada (coming from 10th) and Baia mixed it up, with Bolanos eventually winning the day, putting Bastien fifth, Baia sixth and Sarena Traver seventh. Roncada slipped to eighth, followed by John Potter and Rhonda Hill.
The Richard Pryor “The Toy” Memorial
When U.S. Bates [played by Jackie Gleason] told his bratty son Eric [Scott Schwartz] he could have any present he wanted, he picked the most outrageous gift of all… the janitor, Jack Brown [Richard Pryor]…”
It was an F1 kind of race, processional… “Jarno Trulli [Charles Anti] took the lead into the first corner from pole position, with Juan Pablo Montoya [Paul Bonilla] and Ralf Schumacher [Scott Schroeder] slotting in behind. Robert Doornbos [Robb Holland] and Mark Webber [Gray Gregory] were fourth and fifth. It being a three-stopper, the leaders came in after two laps, though Webber was fueled heavy and tried to go the distance with a no-stopper. But when all was said and done, how the lap chart looked after one lap was the same as how it looked after 15. David Coulthard [Andrew Brightman], Narain Karthikeyan [Harsha Sen], Christian Klien [Ed Klopf] and Jenson Button [Ted Jewell] rounded out the field.
Rounds five and six of the Western Series is set for January 27-29, and it’s the final Triple Crown race, too. (By the way, and you’re one of the first to know, on Sunday the 29th, take a look at the Porsches and BMWs being driven hard in the paddock: It’s the brand-new Skip Barber High Performance Driving School!)It’s
But… before January 27-29, we’ve got the third annual Skip Barber U.S. Regional Run-off at Homestead, January 6-7-8. It’s part of the Southern Series Race Weekend (rounds five and six, plus the title-deciding Southern Triple Crown race). There’s still time to enter the Run-off, so call your Series Advisor for details — and click here for the format and prizes.
Reminder for the Holidays…
Skip Barber Racing School Gift Certificates — and our apparel and merchandise — make terrific holiday gifts. You can click right here and it will take you direct to the Skip Barber “storefront.”