Gerardo Bonilla Takes Another Title

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Skip Barber instructor Gerardo Bonilla, the 2007 IMSA Lites L1 champion.

MONTEREY, Calif. – Skip Barber instructor Gerardo Bonilla won the 2007 IMSA Lites sports car prototype championship with a P2 and a win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca October 20-21.

That makes two championships in the past three years for Bonilla –instructor, coach and driver development manager for Skip Barber Racing. Bonilla won the 2005 Skip Barber National title, scoring four wins and four poles to beat Jordy Vorrath.

In addition to winning the IMSA Lites driver’s championship, the outfit that Bonilla drives for, B-K Motorsports, won the IMSA Lites team championship.

In Saturday’s first race, Bonilla’s second place finish to winner Jay Cochran (who, by the way, raced and won in the Barber Pro Series against the likes of Robbie Buhl, Rob Wilson and Justin Bell) technically clinched the driver’s championship. On Sunday, Bonilla capped the 12-race season with a convincing victory, his seventh of the year.

About Laguna’s second race, Bonilla said, “Each time Matt [Downs, a local hotshoe] pushed harder, I raised my game. The race went on and on, no cautions. I kept finding new ways to go faster. Every time my crew chief Thomas Unger would tell me on the radio that Matt had gained two tenths on us, I’d push more, and gain those two tenths back with another faster lap… We were now going faster than we had all weekend. There it was, a lap time 1.6 seconds faster than our official qualifying lap, on the same tires, now one day and two sessions later. It was like a dream. I could have driven like this for hours.”

The IMSA Lites L1 car is a closed-wheel iteration of the Star Mazda open-wheel chassis. Made by Elan, it is powered by a race prepped 2.3-liter Mazda 4-cylinder, putting its 250 h.p. through a six-speed Hewland sequential. Bonilla says it is a car “… that must be driven very precisely, unlike the Star Mazda which will respond positively to very aggressive inputs.”

Bonilla won more than half of the year’s 12 races. Here he is on one of his 7 victory laps.

Gerardo’s look says it all….

Photos courtesy

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