Western MX-5 & F2000 Openers at MRLS

Wednesday, November 05, 2008 The 2008-2009 F2000 and MX-5 Miata MAZDASPEED Challenge Western Series both got underway at Laguna Seca. There was some mighty fine racing – there were only three FCYs the whole weekend – and we saw Francisco Weiler and Max Riddle take first-time wins…

Francisco Weiler (l.) and Max Riddle (r.) got their first Race Series wins during the 2008-2009 Western openers at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Results, time sheets and qualifying are here.
[Click the line that reads, ”Western Series Opener 31-10-08”]

Here are some more photos from the weekend

You can find the F2000 Race Series schedules here

And clicking here takes you to the MAZDASPEED Challenge schedules

G1R1 (F2000)
Francisco Weiler took his first Series win in fairly dominant fashion over Michael Raimes and Max Riddle. In fact, after the green he had a 10-car length lead by the time he reached the Corkscrew. A couple of raindrops fell around lap 5, just as Andrea Zurek passed Dan Cheadle for 10th in the Corkscrew – then fell off the road and got stuck in T9. Laps 6 and 7 were FCY to get Zurek out of the gravel and on the re-start Raimes took a look but couldn’t make it happen and Weiler kept the lead. At the checker it was Weiler, 1.7 seconds over Raimes, Riddle completing the podium, followed by David Stubbs and Frank Cusack. Weiler was the only driver to get into the 1:41s – he did it twice – on his way to victory.

G1R2 (F2000)
With some dampness making the track about 5 seconds slower, Weiler was even more dominant, though in the early laps he and Riddle put on a show. After a one-lap FCY to get Ross Jaffe out of the T3 kitty litter, Weiler caught the field sleeping on the lap-5 re-start and broke away, leaving Riddle and Raimes to entertain us with a tasty dice for P2, a battle won by Riddle. Fourth was Walter Kuhn, with Andrew Reed-Pfleiger rounding out the top five.

G2R1 (F2000)
Starting alongside polesitter Emil Sildos, Gary Manheimer was the man at the start and snatched the lead, but on lap 3 Sildos got under Manheimer in Turn 2 and then began putting in a series of 1:42s to Manheimer’s 1:43s and had a pretty big lead by mid-race. By the time a full course yellow was called on lap 13 to get Randy Sturgeon out of the T3 gravel, the top four were Sildos, Manheimer, Gavin Sun and Michael Voight (up from a row 5 start!). Back to green for the last three laps there were no challenges up front, but Ethan Stone was a rocket ship and went from eighth to fifth at the checker.

G2R2 (F2000)
In damp-to-drying conditions, again Manheimer led early over Sildos, but on lap 2 Sildos pulled off an outside move in T8-T9 and held off a faster Manheimer for another win. Manheimer gave it his all but wound up 2/10s behind Sildos at the flag. Meanwhile, Stone was running third until he went agricultural in Six on lap 4, handing the P3 spot to Sun. Finishing fourth was David Cheng, who had worked his way smartly up from the fourth row, while Stone recovered nicely to fifth.

G3R1 (MX-5 MAZDASPEED Challenge)
Going from damp to rainy, this race was a good one as Charles Ng led from pole with James Lustman, Zac Zawisza, Max Riddle inches behind. But on lap 3, Lustman got it wrong in Turn Four. That moved Zawisza to second and Riddle to third, fourth now inhabited by Kevin Marshall and P5 by Ken Greenberg. But Zawisza then had trouble in Turn Three, so lap 6 saw the order Ng, Riddle, Marshall, Greenberg and Zawisza, who made his required stop. Riddle got all over the back of Ng and on lap 8 Riddle took the lead. Riddle wasn’t pulling away but it all became moot as Ng couldn’t keep it on the road in the Corkscrew. The two frontrunners had had enough of a lead so that even with Ng making his pit stop, he still came out in second place ahead of Marshall. In the meantime, Double-Z was working his way back up and snatched third place away from Marshall on lap 11. Marshall tried to stay with Zac but after almost going four-off in the Corkscrew, he went all the way a few corners later (T11) and so Lustman got fourth, ahead of Greenberg’s P5, ahead of Marshall. This was Riddle’s first Series win.

G3R2 (MX-5 MAZDASPEED Challenge)
Ng made up for his adventurous Saturday with a solid flag-to-flagger in race two. He got to the line more than 30 seconds up on Zawisza, who had taken over second place from on lap 5 when Riddle and Lustman had car contact in Turn 10 a third of the way into the race. Marshall had a good, smart run to third, but the fourth-place battle was a wonderfully exciting dice between a whole bunch o’ players: Doug Schirripa, Riddle, Greenberg, Lustman and Don Norby. When it finally all shook out, Lustman finished fourth ahead of Schirripa, Greenberg just behind, Riddle and Norby next thanks to some late four-offs.

Paul Newman Memorial (MX-5)
This was a giant field of Miatas – 17 starters – and a great way to honor the racing spirit of PLN. What was lost in a lot of the media’s stories after Newman’s death was that more than once over his life he told people, ”I’m a racer who acts, not an actor who races.” Big difference… After a wonderfully crazy opening lap, followed by some spins and four-offs, in the end it was Zawisza over Lustman and Marshall, with SBRS team manager Jared Feekes taking fourth ahead of Greg Streizoff.

Up Next…
… are rounds three and four of the 2008-2009 Southern F2000 Series and MAZDASPEED Challenge championships, November 15-16 at Road Atlanta. Then one month later (December 13-14), rounds three and four of the 2008-2009 Western F2000 Series and MAZDASPEED Challenge championships are at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca again, followed shortly by the 11th annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out at Sebring International Raceway, December 27-29.

Rick Roso

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