Mike Marino, Antoine Bessette, Kevin Adams and David Daemmer were double winners this weekend when the Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Championship met for the second time in a month at sultry Lime Rock Park. 54 racers overcame humid, summer conditions to enjoy wheel-to-wheel action amid the Berkshire backdrop. Rounds 9 and 10 represent the midway point as the series heads to the backstretch of the 16 round season. New York's Abraham Zimroth claimed two podium results to remain in front of the championship standings with 175 points. He leads Rookie Kevin Adams by 9 points before drops. Chris Oliver leads the Masters Championship with 146 points over veteran racer Roland Isra, currenlty fourth overall in the Eastern Series.
In the weekend opener, Marino paced the field, leading 24 of 25 laps on the 1.5-mile track to claim victory from pole. Marino was challenged midway through the race by Chris Oliver, who held the point briefly on lap 10 before yielding to Marino. Oliver trailed Marino to the checkered flag over the final 15 trips to claim second place ahead of Brian Frisselle, in third. Marino, who set a fast lap time of 1:02.330 sec., also earned the Masters win, taking additional points in the 40-plus category. Dario Cioti adroitly picked off eight positions to advance to a sixth place finish. Cioti's strong drive earns him Most Progressive Driver distinction.
Antoine Bessette used a succession of fast laps, including a best of 1:02.316 sec., to set up his first win of the season over Abraham Zimroth in group 2 race 1. Bessette, who started from second, passed Zimroth on lap 3, and then led the remaining 24, able to keep the championship leader behind him. Tom Sands advanced one position to finish third and join Bessette and Zimroth on the podium. Len Forman, quickest among the Masters contingent, finished fifth overall. Jason Martinelli, who started 12th, showcased his talents by picking up five positions to finish in seventh.
In group 3 race 1, David Kaemmer, Roland Isra and Mike Wert proved equally matched, each holding his own spot from the 1-2-3 start order to the checkered flag. Kaemmer's win from pole was abetted by his fastest lap time of 1:01.844 sec. which set up a 17-second margin of victory over Isra. Isra's second place result is best among the Masters set. Martin Noel gained six positions, tops among the field, to finish in the top-6 and earn Most Progressive Driver honors.
With temperatures soaring, group 4 drivers managed to keep their cool. The day's last race saw Kevin Adams defend his pole position nobly, leading all 27 laps to hold off John Angelone for the win. Angelone followed in second, ahead of Jerry Molitor, in third. Randy Youngsma came home fourth overall, good enough to claim the Masters bounty over Billy Telesco. Chris Milton-Hall promoted himself to eighth after gridding up from last in the field.
By 7AM, all indications were that Day Two would feature an equally tropical clime. Racers made ready use of the Crystal Rock water on hand to stay hydrated. And just as temperatures vowed to remain consistent, so did Mike Marino, who won again from pole, this time running an unblemished race, leading all 26 laps. Chris Oliver and Mike Wert followed in second and third. Oliver, who trailed Marino to the stripe by only 0.7 sec., set the fastest lap with a time of 1:01.891 sec. 14th place starter Dan Boland regrouped from a crash in Race 1 to pick off eight positions and finish sixth.
Group 2 race 2 saw Antoine Bessette take the win over Len Forman and Abraham Zimroth. Zimroth lead the first 25 laps and appeared ready to pick up even more championship points. A questionable move by Bessette on lap 25 forced Zimroth off the track and earned Bessette a 20 sec. penalty, although he was able to retain the victory having captured the checkered flag by over a 21-second margin. Forman's charge from fifth to second proved doubly sweet as he claimed the Masters win and Most Progressive Driver credit.
David Kaemmer completely dominated in group 3 race 2, motoring to a 38 second victory over Mark Patterson and R.J. Smith. Kaemmer, who started on pole, led all 26 laps and set a fastest lap time of 1:01.833 sec. Patterson and Smith collected first and second in Masters competition. Ken Cloonan, who started 11th, found a way past six racers on the tight Lime Rock circuit, to finish in the top-5.
Kevin Adams proved why starting from pole at Lime Rock is so important, managing to keep a hard charging John Angelone behind him over the 27 lap race. Angelone would have to settle for second place ahead of Steve Vajda in third. Randy Youngsma collected his second Masters victory of the weekend.
The steamy temperatures didn't deter anyone who wanted additional seat time. In the Elvis"The King" Memorial, Ken Cloonan picked up the win in the finale in a field rife with talented racers, including a few Skip Barber Instructors. Cloonan made his pole start stand up, holding off stiff competition from"Dandy" Don Drislane and David Kaemmer. Kaemmer made his charge to the podium from 15th, last on the grid.
The Eastern Regional Series resumes for Rounds 11 and 12 on Labor Day weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.