SBRS: Laguna Seca "My Oh Maia"

The rain was the only thing that remained in check as Formula Dodge Western Regional racers poured it on at Laguna Seca Raceway. Threatening skies did not distract Leonardo Maia or prevent him from picking up four poles and four wins on the...

The rain was the only thing that remained in check as Formula Dodge Western Regional racers poured it on at Laguna Seca Raceway. Threatening skies did not distract Leonardo Maia or prevent him from picking up four poles and four wins on the weekend. His perfect trip means he remains 3 points behind the series leader Brett Arsenault. Steve Silvester's two wins in California keep him at the top of the Masters Class.

In group 1 race 1, Formula Dodge National Championship racer Maia won handily from pole. Steadily pulling away from the pack, he took the checkered flag 10 seconds in front of Jon Vannini, who had started in third. Steve Davis took the final podium spot as well as maximum Master's points. Whitney Bellows and Lester Quam had a fantastic battle, racing nose-to-tail for most of the session. Quam eventually bobbled in turn-10 to set up a Bellows pass in turn-11, though they continued to scrap the remainder of the race. Roland Isra, Tim Traver and Hirotoshi Takeuchi ran hard and staged an epic battle as well.

Brian Angen bested polesitter Tophie Stewart early and then held off his, as well as John Knudsen's, challenge in group 1 race 2 action. This contest featured a tight battle up front with the top three practically rubbing wheels. Angen and Stewart, also National Championship racers, volleyed the point before Angen settled in on lap 9 en route to the checkered flag. He would also set the track record with a time of 1:39.852 sec. Stewart consoled himself with second place while Knudsen finished in third. Wade Gaughran and Keith Basso were particularly scrappy in their quest to stay in contention.

In a rematch of the day's first race, Maia and Vannini were at it again in group 3. The two would post the same results with Maia the victor and Vannini, the runner-up. Sarah Wahl came from ninth at the start to take the final rostrum position. Wahl had to pass Dave House in turn-2 with two laps to go for her top-3 result. Richard Smith-Allen had a great drive from 10th place that featured a daring last lap pass of Brad Parker on the outside of the corkscrew.

The day's final race saw Tophie Stewart overcome set-up concerns to win in flag-to-flag style over Fred Rasch by 3 seconds. Rasch applied pressure, but didn't have enough laps left to pose a serious threat to Stewart. Justin Blower had his best finish ever in Formula Dodge competition as he advanced through the field on his way to third place.

Another day, another win by Leonardo Maia from pole. He received some help when Steve Davis and Jon Vannini merged in turn-2 on the first lap. The pair re-grouped but were never able to catch Maia or threaten his lead. Vannini did go on a tear pulling off passes in turn-5 and turn-2, eventually getting by Takeuchi in turn-2 for position with six laps to go. A great battle between Whitney Bellows, Tim Traver and Lester Quam ended when Bellows spun in the corkscrew after Traver tried an evasive tuck near the apex. Traver was clipped when Bellows came back around. Quam was promoted to third place after avoiding the contact. John Killian, who started in 12th, was the most progressive driver of the bunch bouncing back from a spin in turn-3 to finish in fifth.

In group 2 race 2, Tophie Stewart was able to take the checkered flag when Brian Angen developed shifting problems with his car in the corkscrew. Steve Sylvester followed in second place. John Knudsen challenged Stewart in the early going, but suffered mechanical woes that ended his day. Wade Gaughran was caught up in another fierce battle, this time with a determined Keith Basso. Gaughran eventually won the race within a race to finish third.

Leonardo Maia made it an even four in group 3 race 2 action. His wire-to-wire campaign withstood a serious challenge from Whitney Bellows, who hard-charged from 13th to finish in second place. Sarah Wahl, the third place finisher, would end the day with yet another Skip Barber glass in her hand.

Tophie Stewart led from pole en route to a four-second victory over Fred Rasch in group 4 race 2. Rasch captured the fastest lap with a time of 1:40.534 sec. Tamafumi Kamiya rounded out the top-3 with his third place result.

In the memorial, the tag-team of Brian Angen and Richard Smith-Allen advanced from the eighth spot to prevail in the last race of the day. The team of Steve Davis and John Killian finished second; Dave House and Emmanuel Crouvisier came home in third.

- Andrew Torres

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Series OPENWHEEL