Southern Race Series/MAZDASPEED Challenge finales – Ashley leads Freiberg championship sweep

Friday, April 16, 2010 The Skip Barber Southern Race Series finale at Sebring International Raceway was not only exciting and unpredictable, but history making as well. This weekend, 18-year old Ashley Freiberg became the first woman to win an overall championship. Her race two win of the Sebring weekend helped her clinch her title, with runner-up Dennis Trebing 16 points behind. Sebring proved to be a difficult weekend for Trebing, who in race one started on pole and came close to a solid finish only to spin out in the final laps. This weekend brought eight race winners with MX5 Championship driver Angelo Dinkov being the only driver to take home the checker twice. In all, it was a highly competitive and successful race weekend and season finale.

Group 1 Race 1 – MAZDASPEED Challenge Winter Tour
The Winter Finale of the South MX5 Championship proved to be a strong and consistent weekend for James Lustman and Michael Cooper, with both drivers finishing in the top two positions for race one and race two. Cooper started on pole position and by the end of the third lap, he gained over six car lengths between himself and David Levine, who started third but in the first lap gained a position. By lap two, Lustman had worked his way up from starting eighth position to battle and beat Levine for second position. Lap three was a quiet one for the rest of the field, with zero changes for positions three through nine. With second position successfully conquered, Lustman then rapidly gained ground on race leader Cooper and by lap four, he grabbed the lead. Meanwhile, Dan Moen had his hands full defending third position from Tyler Cooke, only by the next lap to drop down to seventh place. Cooke, Levine and John Snyder fought down to the hairpin for third position with Cooke eventually taking the position, followed by Snyder, then Levine. Back at very back of the pack in lap eight, David Steinscraber won the good sportsmanship award by pulling over to let race leader Lustman pass and lap him in turn 15. The fastest lap of the day (lap two) went to the race winner with 2:39.261 and seven tenths of a second behind the checker was Michael Cooper. An impressive climb from this session was Tyler Cooke who started second, but by the end of lap one dropped to sixth, only to impressively fight his way back up to the final podium position.

Group 2 Race 1 – Southern Race Series
The Southern Skip Barber Championship Finale was anything but predictable. Florida native Dennis Trebing started on the pole position and in the first lap managed to successfully hold off Ashley Freiberg who fought her way up from fourth position to battle for the lead. Dr. Jim Norman started fifth, but an unfortunate spin in lap one led to the loss of two positions. Brian Cook also took a spin but was not so lucky in his recovery. His spin knocked him from ninth to the end of the pack at nineteenth. Although the top five positions didn’t change until lap five, everyone was still fighting to defend their positions. Trent Hindman managed to successfully hold off Tristan Nunez and defend the third position, and by the third lap, Trebing, Freiberg and Hindman managed to slowly pull away from the rest of the pack. Lap five was another lap filled with hiccups as Ronald Hayter, Brian Whitmire, Linda Doppes all spun on separate parts of the track, but still managed to continue. In lap five, Freiberg became the new race leader, and further back in the pack Nick Victor-Smith and Gus Doppes were continuing a three lap long battle over twelfth and thirteenth positions. The final lap proved to be the most unpredictable as Linda Doppes spun once again and had contact with the 36 car of Michael Waters. Ed Wilkinson was running seventeenth when he spun in turn 17, but luckily continued on to finish in sixteenth. Freiberg, Trebing and Hindman were still battling for the lead into turn 17 when the 17 car of pole sitter Trebing unfortunately went into the wall. The last two first position contenders had contact, but both managed to cross the finish line with Hindman in first, Freiberg in second and Tristan Nunez in third. However, because of the contact, both cars were penalized, losing their original podium positions. Tristan Nunez was the race winner, followed by David Libby and Hindman managed to still obtain a podium, finishing in third with Ashley Freiberg right behind him in fourth.

Group 3, Race 1 – MAZDASPEED Challenge Winter Tour
Although race one for the South MX5 Championship was filled with battles for ground, most drivers stayed consistent throughout the race, fervently defending their positions. Steven Lee Randall started from the pole position followed by Angelo Dinkov and Lucas Bize. In the shuffle of the start, Bize was pushed back to fifth position while race leader Randall broke away from the pack, only to have a race long tango with Dinkov for the top position. D.J. Randall fought his way from fifth to third, where he managed to hold that position until lap three, only losing one position to eventually gain it back later in the race. Further back in the pack, Brad Randall and Jerry Dougherty and fought over eighth position, a fight that resulted in Dougherty locking up in turn 3 and B. Randal working his way to seventh by lap six and ultimately finishing in fourth position. By lap six, S. Randall and Dinkov had already traded first position four times, with Dinkov holding a three-car lead and Randall still putting up a fight. Meanwhile, in the hairpin, D.J. Randall and Matthew Di Leo were side by side over third, a position that D.J. managed to hold until the checker. The 31 car of Di Leo then had contact in turn 17 with Bize, resulting in both cars heading into the pits and being forced by damage to withdrawal from the rest of the race. Angelo Dinkov took the checker with a 0.945 second lead over Steven Lee Randall, followed by D.J. Randall in third.

Group 1, Race 2
The first lap of the second race for the South MX5 Championship was a difficult one for pole sitter James Lustman when he dropped the exit at 16, pushing him back six positions. Michael Cooper took the lead which he managed to hold onto for the next four laps. In lap two, Cooper, Tyler Wolfson, Dan Moen and Brian Freiberg stayed in line and kept things clean while further back in the pack there was possible contact between David Levine and Tyler Cooke. Pole sitter Lustman got caught in traffic and was pushed back yet another position only to gain it back and start the climb back up. The battle for positions five through eight was an intense one between Lustman, Cooke, Levine and John Snyder going single file through turn 5 to only battle it out at turn 10. Snyder spun but managed to work his way from eighth to seventh and ultimately to finish sixth. Lustman and Cooke managed to escape any trouble and worked their way up to fourth and fifth. By the end of lap five, Wolfson had a possible opening to make a pass for the lead at turn 17, but thought better of it to successfully become side by side with Cooper at the start line and started off lap six as the new race leader. This race was yet another race to have an unpredictable final lap starting with Lustman and Wolfson side by side through turn 1, but Wolfson locked up in turn 2 and later met with the fence and was penalized with a safety check, as well as John Snyder’s 21 car. Michael Cooper grabbed the checker, followed by James Lustman, who came back from eighth, and Tyler Cooke. With the final hiccup, the 15 car of David Steinschraber spun on the cool down lap and concluded the session.

Group 2, Race 2
The final race of the Southern Championship was off to a rocky start and proved to be another disappointing one for Dennis Trebing who started twelfth and had contact with the 41 car of Ronald Hayter in the first lap. Both drivers were taken out of the race and lap two was under full course yellow with Trent Hindman and Ashley Freiberg leading the pack, followed by Tristan Nunez several car lengths behind. In lap five, Jason Kirkorian (who was holding P10) and Gus Doppes (P12) both went four off to rejoin the rest of the pack at turn 5, but with dropping Kirkorian down to sixteenth and Doppes in fourteenth. In the previous lap, Brian Cook went four off, and although a check was not needed, the car took a brief stop in the pits, only to return and eventually retire in lap six due to mechanical problems. Kyle Robertson also went four off, this time in turn 7 but was able to continue, maintaining the tenth spot. In lap eight, Hindman did an excellent job closing in on Freiberg, only to have her sneak back up for a photo finish, and ultimately the win. Hindman was a shy 0.016 seconds behind the new champion, followed by Tristan Nunez and Dr. Jim Norman.

Group 3, Race 2
Angelo Dinkov led drove another consistent race in the MX5 Championship, leading every lap of the nine-lap session. In lap one, Chris Weaver tried to go inside D.J. Randall, but instead went four-off at turn 5, and then proceeded to work his way up to second. Steven Lee Randall took the inside of the 36 car of Lucas Bize, and worked his way up to second. Bize then made a pass on Weaver and moved up to fourth. By lap four, Dinkov had a substantial lead while S. Randall and D.J. Randall battled it out for second place. In the final lap, Weaver snuck under Brad Randall, and defended his position through turn three and led the group with side-by-side action in turn thirteen. In the end, Dinkov’s margin of victory was 15.330 seconds, with S. Randall and D.J. Randall finishing up the podium.

Southern Race Series Masters Race
The session got off to an exciting start between pole sitter Brian Cook and Carl Hober with a battle over the first position. Cooked moved to the inside, but failed to put up a fight, resulting in Hober nabbing the lead. By the end of the first lap Dr. Jim Norman and David Libby worked their way up from ninth and tenth to fifth and sixth and in lap two they went side-by-side with neither one giving any ground until eventually Hober advanced to third with Norman right behind in fourth. In lap three, Hober managed to climb to first, only to have Norman steal the lead out of turn 16, create a ten-car lead and hold the top position for the rest of the race. In the final lap, Gus Doppes spun under the bridge, but managed to hold fifth position. Jim Norman took home the win, followed by David Libby and Carl Hober.

MAZDASPEED Challenge Winter Tour Masters Race
Although John Snyder led mostly the entire race, that’s not to say he didn’t have his work cut out for him in defending his pole position. In lap two, Steinschraber took the lead, only to have it turn into a three car battle for the top position. Steinschraber, Snyder and Dan Moen came down the straight in lap four, and in an attempt to capitalize, Moen locked up, and Snyder moved ahead to reclaim his position and gain a two-car length lead. In the end, John Snyder took home the win, followed by Dan Moen, David Steinschraber and Jerry Dougherty.

Kelly Brouillet

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