East & Midwest Openers at VIR

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 Hey, Regional Drivers! Want to race in front of a big crowd AND dozens of professional sports car teams? Then call your Series Advisor as soon as you’re able! Watkins Glen International has again invited SBRS again to race at the big Rolex Grand-Am weekend! The date is June 7-10, and our races are open to ANY series driver over the age of 18.

NOTE: These races are also part of the 2007 Masters National Championship.

Click here for the details…

The Combined East & Midwest Openers at VIR

Awesome weather, awesome track, awesome racing. The Regional races at VIR have become a ‘‘don’t miss’’ tradition, and the 2007 edition was… oh, what’s the word? Oh, yeah: awesome!

See all the photos here

Results, time sheets and qualifying are here

Here are the East and Midwest Region points standings

Here are the VIR race group re-caps…

G1R1 (Sportsman)
Andy Li opened a decent lead early on and led the whole way. Zachary Ply ran P2 from the green flag to the white flag, but Harsha Sen’s Oak Tree pass on the last lap got Sen the second-best podium. Fourth was fiercely fought by Bill Oliver, Joe McGrath, Rod Ryan, Russell Hodgson and Todd Winter, Ryan eventually coming to the good when he got around Winter with two laps to go.

G1R2 (Sportsman)
It was a battle of the single-syllable surnames, with Li, Ply and Sen cutting each other up for the lead early on. But on lap four, leader Li fell off the road and spun into the wall. Ply was now the leader, Sen second and Winter third, and after two laps of FCY, Ply kept the point on the re-start but Oliver relegated Winter to fourth place. That only lasted a lap, as Winter charged back and re-took third. Meanwhile, Sen and Ply were miles up the road – and Sen played his drafting cards correctly and did the deed on Ply with a lap to go for the win. Oliver got P4, Ryan fifth.

G2R1 (Championship)
Super-tight racing up front between Jordan Taylor, Gabby Chaves, Kyle Longmore (from DFL), Juan Carlos Sistos and Josh Sorter. In fact, right at the end, too close: In the heavy dicing, some wheels were banged, some noses got into gearboxes, some BFGs found themselves four-off… At the checker the cars crossed the line in this order – Taylor, Chaves, Longmore, Sistos and Ludwig – but with post-race penalties assessed, the result sheet would show Ludwig the winner, Sortor in P2, followed by Taylor, Chaves, Longmore and Sistors.

G2R2 (Championship)
Well, this was a good one! No yellows, no contact, no four-offs, and the winner, Longmore, beat P2 Chaves by just .095 of a second. Jim Craige’s exciting battle with Jordan netted him third place, while Pat Daly had a solid run to fifth. Longmore, Chaves and Taylor, by the way, are all Karting Shoot-out scholarship winners from this past January. Longmore thus becomes the second karting scholarship driver to win a Skip Barber race, the other being Timmy Megenbier, who last month won one of the National races at the Sebring 12-hour.

G3R1 (Sportsman)
Gustaves Linares and Don Van were putting on a show at the front but Linares took his car off the road exiting Turn Six while leading. Van was the man from there on out, leaving Linares, who re-joined in third place after his stop, to make a bid for second on Marc Charbonneau. Which he did, when, with three laps to go, Linares got through traffic better than Charbonneau did. Mike Cascioli came across fourth, with Bruce Moreno rounding out the top five.

G3R2 (Sportsman)
Van and Linares again were the top dogs, Linares even recovering from an early spin in Turn One while leading to finish second. Charbonneau ran second for a while but in the late stages succumbed to both Linares and Jeff Pietz, though Pietz’s failure to pit after going agricultural in the Esses demoted him to fifth (and handed fourth place to Cascioli).

Don Van had a stellar VIR weekend, winning both of his G3 races.

G4R1 (Championship)
Peter Ludwig has been one of the quickest Series drivers for a couple of years and in this race, he rocketed from the last row to third place by lap three! Doubtless he was on his way to making a bid for the lead but it was not to be; one lap later a broken wire in the harness killed his coil –along with the chance to win. Meanwhile, Bobby Ellis and Chaves were putting on a show and with Ludwig’s retirement, Dion von Moltke, Joel ‘‘Is he Really Going Out With Him?’’ Jackson and Jeff Oleen joined the fray. With seven laps in the books and four to go, Ellis was the leader, Chaves second, Oleen third, followed by von Moltke, Conor Daly and Doug Harrison. On lap eight Daly got past both Oleen and von Moltke to take over third place – which became second place (behind new leader Chaves) one lap later when leader Ellis turned it around in Oak Tree! So it finished Chaves, his first win, Daly, Oleen, von Moltke and Juan Pablo Glover Contreras, coming from deep in the field. Ellis came home ninth.

G4R2 (Championship)
The opening laps were all about Daly, Oleen, Chaves and Ellis, with Oleen taking P1 from Daly on lap four, just before going FCY for one lap on lap five to pull Carlos Medina out of the tires. The re-start was frantic, as the top four were mad-scrambling for the lead. When it had sort of sorted out two laps later, Oleen was still on top, Daly second and Ellis third, having scratched past Chaves in Oak Tree. But in that exchange, Ellis had gotten into Chaves (and they both stayed out for the duration). Daly grabbed the lead from Oleen with three to go, but Oleen returned the favor the very next lap On the last lap, Daly gave it all he had but came up just .084 short to Oleen. Chaves also got another position, taking third from Ellis, but since both of those guys were going to get 25-second hits, third was awarded to JPGC, who had his hands full with Sistos in fourth, who in turn was about 1 second up on fifth-place von Moltke.

Gabby Chaves (c.) split G4 wins with Jeff Oleen (second from left). Conor Daly (r.) was second in both races. Doug Harrison (far left) was the Masters winner in race one.

Bryce McKee was recognized as Mechanic of the Weekend.

Virginia Tech Memorial
Instructor/coach Phil Lombardi and Conor Daly had a wonderful tussle in this one, although the experienced Lombardi only led two laps total, including the only one that counts! National driver Jeff Oleen, instructor/coach Jon Morley, and Jim Craige rounded out the top five.

Next up!
The Skip Barber crew doesn’t even have to leave the VIR premises, as this weekend are rounds three and four of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda. Supporting the big Rolex Grand-Am and Koni Challenge races, the top four drivers – Jeff Oleen, Ricky Taylor, Joel Miller and Timmy Megenbier – are separated by just three points.

In the Regionals, the Midwest and East again have a big combined weekend, this time at Watkins Glen International, May 25-27.

2007 Midwest Race Series
April 20-22, VIR
May 25-27, Watkins Glen
June 29-July 1, Road America
July 27-29, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
Oct. 30-Sept. 2, Mid-Ohio
Sept. 28-30, Road America

2007 Eastern Race Series
April 20-22, VIR
May 25-27, Watkins Glen
June 29-July 1, Road America
July 12-14, Lime Rock Park
July 27-29, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
Oct. 30-Sept. 2, Mid-Ohio
Oct. 11-13, Lime Rock Park

Pat Daly makes it unanimous — clowns don’t belong in racing! Actually, Doug “Bozo” Harrison most assuredly does…

Rick Roso

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