Western Race Series finale – Gimple clinches title

Friday, April 16, 2010 While we continue to toil away in Lakeville getting ready for consecutive National and Regional Race Weekends at VIR, we must now hand off the Western Race Series finale report to our tame racing driver customer…

Some say that he doesn’t enjoy being upside down nearly as much as you’d think and that there’s no way he could have heard about the fellow who punched his car in Sebring because it hasn’t even happened yet. All we know is… he’s not The Stig, but he’s The Stig’s cousin from New York City!

Click here to see images from the weekend
Click here for complete results
Click here for points standings

All good things must come to an end and so it was time for the Western Series to reveal the champions and close the doors while celebrating hot drivers and cool, clear weather at Mazda Raceway Laguna.

Group 1, Race 1 – Western Race Series
Kyle Kaiser was most progressive, starting P10 but quickly working his way up three positions to P7 by Lap 3, P5 on Lap 6 and climbed to P3 on lap 8 where he stayed to the finish. Stephen Hill was progressive as well going from P9 to P3 by lap 6 but Kyle caught and passed him two laps later and Stephen finished a strong P4. Stephen was highest finishing Master and Grand Master (though at the finale masters points are only given in the Masters race).

At the head of the field, Kyle Gimple crossed the line P1 on lap one and never gave up the point, leading the race flag to flag with more than a three second gap over Scott Anderson at the finish line. Scott kept Kyle honest the whole race but was never quite able to challenge for the lead. Kyle and Scott had almost a 15 second gap over the rest of the field at the checker.

Luigi Biangardi held P3 until Kyle Kaiser and Stephen Hill passed on laps 6 and 7 dropping him to P5 less than a second behind Hill at the finish. Greg Strelzoff started P5 and also got shuffled back as the Kaiser/Hill train went by finishing P6. John Mitchell was pulled out of the gravel trap in turn 6 and fought his way back to P7 before spinning again and finishing P8 after Walter Kuhn (P9) made John work hard all the way to the checker. Andrea Zurek finished P10. Unfortunately on lap 4 while in P4 Lee Kaiser went 4-off to avoid a spinner in turn 9 and was unable to continue

Group 2, Race 1 – Western Race Series
The thrill of victory, and the agony of old feet. With only two racers not in the Masters or Grand Masters category in this group, curb feelers, ash trays, cup holders and GPS devices were made available to all drivers by pit lane coordinator Randy Buck. Sadly they didn’t help. This group got the ugly race award for collecting the most yellow flags and yellow flag laps this weekend finding both the gravel traps and each other at regular intervals during this friendly punch up. The lap chart looked like the Richter scale after a 9.0 earthquake with positions gained and lost at dizzying frequency.

Kidding aside it was a clean start all the way to turn 11 on lap one when after relinquishing pole position to Gavin Sun in turn 5. Doug Tuttle was punted into the gravel trap in turn 11 by Jack Mitchell who came in for a safety check and continued. On the lap 3 restart, Seiichiro Kita misunderstood the rules and thought the race went full green at the moment the pace car pulled off. He passed cars going into turn 11 on the restart but the green was thrown early as the lead cars came around the corner and his passing was allowed to stand. At the restart Gavin Sun was leading with Yukinabu Nakayama P2, Randy Sturgeon P3, and Seiichiro Kita in P4 and up from 12th place Pat Daly in P5 with Glenn Bryant P6. Yuki took the lead on lap 4 with Sun, Sturgeon, Kita and Daly holding the top 5 through lap 7 when Doug Tuttle found the tire wall coming out of the corkscrew. It was two more yellow flag laps before the green flag appeared next on lap 9. This time Kita’s misinterpretation of the start rules did him in as he dove into turn 11, hit and spun Gavin Sun, firmly planting himself in the track-out gravel trap before the green flag came out. Sun was able to continue after a safety check as was Kita following extrication from the gravel. Racing back to the start finish double yellow put Yuki in the lead with Daly P2, Jack Mitchell P3, Glenn Bryant P4 and John Schauerman in P5. With two laps to go, the race restarted and on the last lap Yuki missed his line through turn 4 giving Daly a run inside him into turn 5. With left front locked and on fire Daly modulated the lock-up fast enough to resume wheel rotation and take the lead. Yuki had the better run out of turn 11 but was .076 short at the line and Daly won in his first race on the West Coast. It should be noted that Yuki flies in from Japan once a year to run this event. He donates high quality Saki as a gift to both one lucky instructor and the banquet auction. Yuki drove magnificently considering how little seat time he has in Skip Barber race cars each year.

With the exception of Daly’s pass, P3 thru 5 remained unchanged with Gavin Sun carving his way back up through the field to finish P6, Niels Larson starting and finishing P7, Randy Sturgeon shuffled back to P8, Hank Combs P9 and Bob Gogerty rounding out the top 10.

Group 1, Race 2
Their final race had Kyle Gimple leading from start to finish with times near qualifying speed and variations of only a tenth or two through most of the race. Very consistent fast driving that demonstrated why young Gimple deserved to win the championship. Kyle Kaiser matched him lap for lap only giving away occasional fractions that totaled less than 4 seconds at the end of the race. Seth Anderson gave up P2 to Kyle on lap 3 but was also a model of consistency as he finished just over 3 seconds behind Kaiser to take the last step on the podium and complete his points race for the season.

Just under twenty-five seconds after Gimple’s finish, Stephen Hill took P4 and recovering from an early spin Greg Strelzoff both started and finished P5 twenty-three seconds behind Hill. Walter Kuhn P6 was nine seconds behind Strelzoff, with Andrea Zurek P7 thirteen seconds behind Walter. Lee Kaiser finished P8, John Mitchell P9 and Luigi Biangardi retired in P10 after a hard four off in turn 6 damaged his car too much to continue.

Group 2, Race 2
The mostly masters and grand masters group achieved full redemption in race 2 going flag to flag without serious incident. Pat Daly led the field through lap one and never looked back. Jack Mitchell gave chase until lap 11 when hard charging Gavin Sun, who started P6 passed Mitchell for P2 trying to run Daly down. Seiichiro Kita, who started P13 was also on a mission as he passed Hank Combs, Niels Larson, Randy Sturgeon, Glenn Bryant and Yukinabu Nakayama along with almost everyone else on track in his drive to finish P4. Yukinabu had a spin in turn 6 but didn’t realize he didn’t have to pit for a safety check because he never went 4-off. He did pit however and was sent back out but lost track position and finished P5. Randy Sturgeon had a spin and still gained two spots from his start, finishing P6. Niels Larson also had a spin but finished one better than he started in P7. Shawn Smith bettered his lot in racing life advancing to P9 from P12 and John Adams rounded out the top 10.

Masters Championship Race
For Stephen Hill, John Mitchell, Lee Kaiser, Walter Kuhn and John Schauerman there were points at stake for the masters championship while for the remaining 10 masters and grand masters it was a free fun run to celebrate the end of a great race weekend and season.

At the start, Stephen Hill took the lead with Lee Kaiser on his tail and John Mitchell in P3 at the end of lap one. Walter Kuhn grabbed P3 from Mitchell on lap 2 and it was game on. Jeff Kaiser who started P last was P8 at the end of lap 1 and P5 by the end of lap 2. On lap 6 the order was Stephen Hill, Walter Kuhn, Lee Kaiser, Jeff Kaiser, John Mitchell, Randy Sturgeon and Pat Daly.

On lap 6 in turn 5 Randy Sturgeon checked his mirrors while turning in and spun in front of Daly. The interloper from New York learned a new trick as both of their left rear wheels intersected launching Daly into an end-over flip with multiple barrel rolls that was reportedly tracked by NORAD. While his inversion into the gravel trap looked dramatic and may have earned him a pilot’s license, Daly was thankfully uninjured and gave testimony to the strength of the cars and the wisdom of wearing a HANS device, knee & elbow pads plus arm restraints. Daly got a mandatory ambulance ride back to pit lane while Sturgeon, after being pulled from the gravel trap and his car given a safety check was able to rejoin the race.

With the stunt portion of the program over the green flag reappeared on lap 10 with Stephen Hill still at the point and Jeff Kaiser newly installed in P2. John Mitchell was back in P3, Walter Kuhn P4, Seiichiro Kita P5, Yukinabu Nakayama P6 and Doug Tuttle in P7.

As the laps wound down, Stephen Hill and Jeff Kaiser pulled away from the field while Walter Kuhn won his battle with John Mitchell, taking the final spot on the podium. John Mitchell P4 nipped Lee Kaiser in P5 by less than a second. Doug Tuttle rose from 9th to finish P6 with Yuki less than a second behind him in P7. Glenn Bryant improved from 10th to P8, Randy Schauerman took P9 and less than half a second behind, Randy Sturgeon fought back to P10.

Anticipated bad weather never materialized during the week and some of the points battles weren’t settled until the last race. It was, once again, Skip Barber racing at its best.. Congratulations to all the competitors as we look Eastward to the Summer Series which begins at VIR at the end of April. See you at the track!

The Stig’s New York cousin

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