Western Series Finale — and MAZDASPEED Challenge Opener

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Photo by Allan Rosenberg

Photo by Allan Rosenberg

The 2007-2008 Skip Barber Western Series finale was at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and wow, what a great weekend. Not only was the banquet a huge hoot, but we saw the first points-scoring MAZDASPEED Challenge races… Conner De Phillippi winning the Western Series title – and Rookie of the Year… John Scalmanini winning the Masters championship (Tom Roberts, Grand Master)… Emil Sildos honored as Most Improved Driver… and Ethan Stone winning the highest-finishing Sportsman Trophy. Congrats to all the Western Series drivers!

Results, time sheets and qualifying are here.
(Note: Click on “Other Events,” then click on the second-from-the-top (not the first one) “Western Regional Finale Race Weekend”)

Final Series points standings can be found here

G1R1 (Sportsman)
Ian Costa started on pole and led the whole way despite his progress twice being slowed by full course yellows (laps 5/6 and laps 12/13). Behind him was the dice for P2 between Ethan Stone and Sarena Traver. On lap 11, Stone dropped like… um… a stone, falling from second to seventh, Traver taking over second place and Ross Jaffe leaping from sixth to third. The next lap both Frank Cusack (Turn 3) and Kevin Tittle (T6) found trouble and so we went FCY. The re-start was with three to go, the order Costa, Traver and Jaffe. With two to go, Kevin Woods – who had gone four-off in Turn 4 very early on and was now rocketing back up through the field – snatched third place. But it came with a price; he and Traver had touched in Turn 2. So the on-track order at the line was Costa, Traver and Woods, but with the requisite time penalties to both, Jaffe and Stone rounded out the podium. Fourth across the line was David Stubbs, but he had passed a car under yellow and was too assessed a penalty. That gave fourth to David Anderson and fifth to Andrea Zurek. Ed Lever came home sixth, and classified seventh through 10th were Stubbs, Traver, Woods and Paul Coleman.

G1R2 (Sportsman)
Costa walked this one after his two primary antagonists, Traver and Woods, got into each other again – and again in Turn 2 – on lap five That put Stone into second place and Stubbs into third, where they stayed until the checker. Tittle traced a steep upward arc on the lap chart, going from 11th to fifth in just seven laps, then taking over fourth from Jaffe with five to go. On that same lap Jonathan Barcena put Jaffe back another spot so it ended Costa 26 seconds up the road from Stone, who was 8 seconds to the good over Stubbs, battling Tittle in fourth right to the end, with Barcena rounding out the top five.

G2R1 (Championship)
Like F1, qualifying had pre-determined a lot. Conner De Phillippi, the grand prize winner of February’s Karting Scholarship Shoot-out, had taken pole, with Emil Sildos alongside. De Phillippi marched to a 6-second win over Sildos. Third-starting Gary Manheimer ran third for the first three laps, until Victor Carbone got around him and that was that: De Phillippi,, Sildos, Carbone, Manheimer, Michael Ramies, John Scalmanini and Curt Berg was the order at the checker.

G2R2 (Championship)
De Phillippi De Stroyed ’em again, leading flag to flag and finishing with a 6-second MoV over Sildos. Third was Carbone, who had tailed Manheimer for three laps after the green and then got around him. Fifth was Ramies, less than a a half-second behind Sildos, trailed by Scalmanini and Berg. Finishing the year with another win – all told De Phillippi won five times – he scored 519 points to Sildos’ 463 (three wins) for the 2007-2008 Skip Barber Western Series championship. Well done, C.D.

G3R1 (MX-5 Mazdaspeed Challenge)
Well, this was it. The first official race for the all-new Skip Barber Mazdaspeed Challenge! It was a 10-car field, with Skip Barber Regional and National competitor Dion von Moltke on pol with a 1:49.568 and SCCA racer Lyonel Kent second on the grid with a :50.701. The start was clean and von Moltke kept the point, ahead of Kent and Philip Royle, who had gotten around third-on-the-grid Fred Chin. TV actor Ian Ziering spun in Three on the first lap but kept it lit and re-joined. Soon von Moltke and Kent were off into the distance, the only two drivers getting into the :49s. Kent hung in there but under the checker he was about 8/10s behind von Moltke. Royle was an all-alone third. For the entire race Chin was stationed in fourth but on the last lap he got it wrong in Turn 4 and crashed, handing the position to Scott James. Next was Aaron Hollander, with Al Delattre, Ziering and Ken Greenberg next in line. Chin was classified ninth and Pax ‘’24 Hours of’’ Lemmon 10th.

G3R2 (MX-5 Mazdaspeed Challenge)
This one was a bit of a wheel-banger at the end, as Kent and von Moltke scrabbled for the lead the whole race. von Moltke led laps one through five but kent got the better of him on lap six. Running mostly nose to tail, the two were way out front of third place Royle when they came rocketing down to the Turn 11 Hairpin on the last lap, Kent just ahead of von Moltke. von Moltke went for it but it didn’t work out as planned, as he got into Kent, punted off into the kitty litter. von Moltke had no choice but to head up to the finish line – he was already past pit-in when he got into Kent – and hope that his lead over now-second-place Royle was bigger than the 20-second penalty he was going to get. And it was, so von Moltke was the winner. James came across third, followed by Gray Gregory (up from 10 th), Hollander, Greenberg, Chin, Lemmon and Ziering, Kent classified 10th.

G4R1 (Sportsman)
Yukinobu Nakayama only does a race weekend or two a year with us, but when he does he gets it done. In Group 4 he led every lap from pole, setting fastest-lap along the way to the win. Bill Capogeannis took over second place from Michael Sorbian early on, trailed closely by Dennis Rock. While fourth, Sorbian spun in Four and fell back to 10 th after his pit stop, the mistake handing the position to Alex Jasserme, with David Koster now fifth. This order remained stable for laps six through 10 – Nakayama had galloped off to a big lead over Capogeannis and Rock — until Jasserme and Koster rubbed some fenders in 11. Their pit stops put Tim Perkins into fourth. But only for one lap as a quickly recovering Sorbian grabbed the spot from him. But the next lap (13), Sorbian got swallowed up by both Perkins and Hank Combs. Sorbian added to his woes by sliding off in the Andretti Hairpin, so now Bill Scoville was up to sixth and Jasserme seventh. Sorbian, Koster, Ray Brady, Linda Doppes and Gus Doppes rounded out the field.

G4R2 (Sportsman)
Dennis Rock has long been a great friend of the company, often donating his own time and considerable energy to beating the drums for the Western Series. In all the years, though he’s run up front, he’d yet to win a race. Well, he can put that little albatross behind him as in Sunday’s race, Mr. Rock snagged victory number one… Nakayama led from the green, with Capogeannis behind, but Bill stuck it in the beach when the field got to Four. Rock was now second and Perkins third following one lap of FCY. Soon after the re-start, Sorbian took over third place from Perkins and so the field circulated for the next five laps, Nakayama already out to a 5-second-plus lead. But Nakayama made two mistakes on lap nine; he spun in Three but did not go four-off. Thinking he had to pit, Nakayama came in! The crew waved him through but now he was in third place, with Rock leading and Sorbian P2. Rock handily kept the lead to the checker, even putting up his fastest lap near the end. First win for the Rock! Sorbian kept the quickly closing Nakayama at bay for second, while Andrew Zimmer and Jasserme rounded out the top five. Good stuff…

G5R1 (MX-5 Mazdaspeed Challenge)
The second group of ‘‘history making’’ Skip Barber MX-5 racers saw Michael Skeen on pole by a healthy 1 second over Gray Gregory, with John Tukivakala and Mike Monticello on the second row. At the start Skeen stayed up front but in Turn Four in the scrum for P2, Gregory and Tukivakala got together, Gregory also going four-off. With those two coming into the pits for their required safety checks, Skeen led with Monticello second and Al Delattre third. On lap three Greenberg put a pass on Delattre. Skeen was stretching his lead every lap, knocking off amazingly consistent laps: nothing but 1:51s, bracketing two laps in the :50s! With five laps to go, Aaron Hollander finally got around Delattre so the final order was Skeen, Monticello, Greenberg, Hollander, Delatttre, Michael Luzich, Tim Suddard, Gregory and Tukivakala.

G5R2 (MX-5 Mazdaspeed Challenge)
Skeen elected to start at the back for his second race, which put Monticello on pole, Greenberg second, Hollander third and Luzich fourth. Monticello led at the green while Hollander briefly held second and Gregory third. But lap two saw Gregory get around Hollander and now went after Monticello. Those two checked out and even though this was only the second race ever for Monticello — he’d done lots of track days and track testing as a writer for Road & Track, but had never raced a car before – he never succumbed to the pressure and edged Gregory by a half-second at the finish. Pretty impressive… Gary Manheimer was also impressive, coming up from row four on the grid to finish third, while Greenberg did a fine job consolidating fourth place, a tick or two in front of Hollander. Tukivakala and Luzich rounded out the runners. And what of Mike Skeen? He worked his way to third place three laps in, but his day ended when third gear packed it up. That’s racing…

Masters Run-off
At the end of every Regional championship, all the Masters and Grand Masters are put into one race group and they have at it. This was a 12-man contest, headed by John Scalmanini on pole, Ethan Stone alongside, with Walter Kuhn and Ross Jaffe in the second row. Truth be told, it was a bit of a procession, with the top three order unchanged the entire race. Yukinobu Nakayama provided the best show as he came from the fifth row to garner P4 at the flag. Dennis Rock, David Anderson and Andrew Brightman were next across the line, followed by Bill Scoville, Hank Combs, Paul Coleman, Ray Brady and Ross Jaffe (off in T6 on the first lap). Congrats again to John Scalmanini, the Masters titlist of 2007-2008.

On-track formula car photos by Allan Rosenberg

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