2007-2008 Southern Series Finale at SebringApr 03, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008 This just in… Nick Nicholson has jumped the shark… read all about it here…
The 2007-2008 Skip Barber Southern Series finale was on the Sebring “test circuit,” where we saw four first-time winners, the last of the non-points MX-5 Mazdaspeed Challenge races and the crowning of three champions: Gabby Chaves in Championship, Sean Rayhall in Sportsman, and Luca Orlandi in Masters (with David Libby the Grand Masters title winner). Congrats to all the Southern Series drivers!
Freddie Zebede, Dennis Trebing and Felix Serralles put on a great show for 18 of the 20 laps, Zebede leading from the green flag. Eventually Zebede and Serralles gapped third place. On lap 19, however, Zebede spun in T9 and Serralles had to go four-off to avoid. There was contact between the two and though they got underway again and crossed the line one-two (Serralles — Zebede), they of course were handed their time penalties for not pitting. That meant third-across-the-line Julian Albarracin (is that a real name? Awesome…) was the winner — his first, congratulations! — with Trebing second and Serralles classified third. Zebede and Robert LaRocca rounded out the top five. Wilson Phillippe, Richard Schwyn, Dan ‘‘Never Leaks’’ Moen, Oleskii Tamrazov, Gary Gerrard and Erik Brumme rounded out the field.
This time, Serralles and Zebede made no significant mistakes. Albarracin led laps one and two but was then overhauled by Serralles on lap three. Two laps later, Zebrede got around Albarracin and off those two went. Eventually, Serralles pulled a 4-second gap on Zebrede and motored on to his first-time win. Albarracin came home third, trailed by Schwyn and fifth-place Brumme (good run, up from 11th). Gerrard, Tamrazov, Trebing, Moen, Phillippe and LaRocca were sixth through 11th.
G2R1 (Sportsman + Championship)
This one was a mixed group — six Sportsman, six Championship — and for the first two-thirds of the race, up front it was mainly a dice between Luca Orlandi (C) and Sean Rayhall (S). David Libby (C) and Robbie Dalton (C) were tussling over third place. Dalton took over P3 from Libby on lap six and went after Rayhall. By lap 14, Dalton finally put the impressive Rayhall behind him to take over second place, but it was too late to get after Orlandi, who went on to a near 5-second victory. The battle for third was not over, however, as Libby wanted it and Rayhall wasn’t giving. But two laps from the end, Rayhall succumbed to Libby’s advances. Still, Rayhall was the Sportsman-class winner, over Sebastian Durango and Doug Beachem.
G2R2 (Sportsman + Championship)
Michael Vincec had had handling problems in Saturday’s race, compounded by getting tagged from the back on the last lap, so his ninth-place in race one wasn’t truly representative. He showed his true colors by coming up through the field on Sunday, slicing up to third place just before halfway. The leader was Rayhall, with Orlandi right behind him. By lap 11, Orlandi grabbed the lead from Rayhall – but Rayhall took it right back a lap later. Vincec was now right with them. Next time around, Vincec went from third to first, with Rayhall right on his gearbox and Orlandi equally close to Rayhall. On lap 15 Orlandi grabbed P2, then snatched the lead from Vincec a lap after that. Now it was an exciting back-and-forth battle for the win between Vincec and Orlandi, and Vincec’s last-lap pass got him his first Race Series win. Rayhall’s third-place overall made him winner of the Sportsman division, over Durango, Beachem, Andrew Pasquale, Mikhail Goikhberg and Scott Panzer. Dr. Mike Edwards was sixth across the line (third in Championship).
G3R1 (MX-5 Mazdaspeed Challenge)
This weekend was the last of the ‘‘spring training’’ MX-5 Mazdaspeed Challenge races (the inaugural championship begins April 4-6 at Laguna). Curt Riley started from pole, with Michael Thompson alongside. Riley grabbed the lead (one he would not relinquish) right out of the box, Thompson second and Najeeb Khan third. But it took Aaron Hollander just one lap to get past Khan, so for the next five laps the order was Riley, Thompson, Hollander. On lap seven, Hollander moved up to second and stayed there, keeping first Thompson at bay, then a resurgent Khan. So it ended Riley (first win!), Hollander, Khan, followed by Thompson, Frank DeNicola, Albert Lukazik, Pax Lemmon, Alberto Bartolomei and Sarah Khan.
G3R2 (MX-5 Mazdaspeed Challenge)
Riley had to work much harder for this win, as he went four-off while leading! That was on lap five, and it took him eight laps to scramble back to the lead. In those preceding laps, Khan led for six laps until spinning, which meant Lemmon led for two laps until fuel issues sidelined him. That gave the lead back to Riley, now tailed by Lukazik and Hollander. Lukazik was a Doberman, however, and on the next to last lap took the lead. But Riley played it cool and went back to the lead on the last lap, Hollander maintaining third. Fourth was DeNicola, followed by Khan, Najeeb and Khan, Sarah. Thompson finished seventh after a spin in the Hairpin, with Lemmon classified eighth.
Seven Masters took the green, with David Libby and and Luca Orlandi dicing back and forth in fine fashion early on. Dr. Edwards entered the leading mix, getting up to P2 by lap 11. But it was Libby’s day, as he put Orlandi behind him for the final time on lap nine, leaving the last 11 laps to Orlandi and Edwards to sort out second place, finally decided with two laps to go, in Orlandi’s favor. Fourth was Scott Panzer, with Gary Gerrard, Dan Moen and Ralf Trebing wrapping up the field.
The Keith Watts Birthday Enduro Memorial
Eight two-man teams went at it for 40 laps in the MX-5 Miatas. The Pax Lemmon/Steve DeBrecht tandem led a ton of laps – all but one of the first 31, in fact – but in the end, Skippy mechanic Carlos Ortiz and former wrench Doppler Dave won the race, with Scott Panzer and Phil Lombardi third.