WINDSOR, ONTARIO (June 29, 2003) -- Bobby Wilson capped a fantastic day of racing at the inaugural Dodge Freedom Grand Prix of Windsor with an exciting victory in front of a capacity crowd in the streets of this Canadian city near...
WINDSOR, ONTARIO (June 29, 2003) -- Bobby Wilson capped a fantastic day of racing at the inaugural Dodge Freedom Grand Prix of Windsor with an exciting victory in front of a capacity crowd in the streets of this Canadian city near Detroit.
Wilson, from Dousman, Wisconsin, edged Robbie Pecorari by 0.381 seconds in the ICC shifter class on the tight and challenging temporary circuit situated within the grounds of the Bell International Freedom Festival. Graham Rahal, son of Champ Car legend Bobby Rahal, capped an eventful weekend with a podium result.
The Stars race was the featured event for the popular festival this weekend and organizers estimated that 50,000 people witnessed the race activities during the three days. Sunday's main events saw all grandstands, knolls and fencing occupied during the racing action.
"We are very pleased with how the event turned out," said Stars principal Bobby Rahal. "The Stars crew did an excellent job putting together a street race and the racers gave the spectators a great show. We are grateful for the effort and hospitality shown by the city and the organizers. These are the sort of events Stars wants on our schedule and we can't wait to come back to Windsor."
Although Wilson was on top all weekend, he was pressured early by James Hinchcliffe, who qualified Saturday only one one-thousandth off Wilson's time and Pecorari, who usually runs the direct-drive ICA class.
"The First Kart guys, Terry and Tony Ventresca and my dad worked hard all weekend," said Wilson. "We just had to put it together for the race. My hat is off to Robbie and James who gave me a bit of a headache in the early."
Four laps into the main event, David MacDonald made heavy contact with the bale wall in the festival portion of the course. MacDonald's kart and the pulverized bales blocked a good portion of the track. Juliana Chiovitti and Rahal, who were both working their way through the field, rapidly came upon the mess. Chiovitti slid on the loose straw, crashed, and collected Rahal.
The race was red-flagged to clean up the course. Both Chiovitti and Rahal were able to effect repairs on their karts under Stars regulations and rejoined the order from the previously scored lap for the restart.
"After that long push back up the hill we found out they would give us ten minutes to fix the kart and go back out," said Graham Rahal. "My guys did an awesome job -- Ryan, Donnie, and Clay, just to get the kart put back together."
Wilson maintained his lead on the restart, with Hinchcliffe, Pecorari, and Rahal in pursuit. Hinchcliffe spun under heavy braking in the wide festival turn and was put out of the race.
Pecorari and Rahal looked to be quick enough to challenge Wilson, but the 21-year-old veteran did not put a tire wrong. Pecorari's best chance came a few laps from the finish, where he dove inside Wilson in the festival turn but Bobby kept the First Kart/Pavesi/Vega tires machine just inches ahead and reached the apex first.
Pecorari, the Eastern Division points leader in ICA, made his crossover to the shifter ICCs look easy, taking fast lap honors at 33.335 seconds for the race. Yet, he came up just shy of Wilson.
"At the beginning Wilson was really fast," said the Aston, Pennsylvania resident. "At the end I was gaining a little bit, but I made a few mistakes and then just brought it in for second."
Lorenzo Mandarino worked hard to earn a fourth place finish while Chiovitti completed the top five in ICC.
In other classes, Alex Penfold dominated the Moto 125 shifter class main event after taking pole and the pre-main.
"I want to thank the city of Windsor and the mayor for putting on a great event," said the Canadian.
While Penfold cruised, long-time karter Howie Idelson and Justin Mullins waged a fierce battle for the entire 25 laps. In an exhibition of racing determination, both drivers never let up, often going wheel to wheel. Idelson set his fast lap of 34.723 on lap 24 while Mullins did his, a 34.734, on lap 23. Augmented by Shifter Kart Illustrated's Rob Howden's exciting race call, the crowd was wowed and applauded several times during the fight, then gave both drivers a standing ovation upon the finish, where Idelson edged Mullins by 0.135 seconds.
Kyle Rahal prevailed in an exciting and contentious battle with pole and pre-main winner Nelson Mason in 80cc Junior shifter. Mason had led most of the laps on the weekend in this class, but Rahal found a way past with a daring late-braking maneuver. Mason would return the favor and, on the final lap, Rahal regained the lead. Mason made another attempt for the top spot and the two had contact in the festival turn, sending Mason into the bales. Keaton Doerksen came in second and Matt Pritiko completed the podium.
The Rotax class also featured last lap drama, as the three top racers all fought for the top position. Matthew France hit the stripe first, followed by James Hinchcliffe and Tom Cadieux.
In the local four cycle classes, Tyler Hendrick beat Gregory Rempel by 2.074 seconds with Kyle Simons just alongside for third in the Junior division. With similar nose-to-tail racing, Dave Patrick won the Senior class with Ben Morgan and Jennifer Rempel finishing second and third.
The spectators, most of whom had never witnessed professional kart racing, were uniformly awestruck by the speed and skill of the drivers at the Grand Prix. Windsor police brought out the radar detector and clocked the shifter karts through the chute that descends from the streets of Windsor to the festival turn at 127 kilometers per hour, or eighty miles per hour. For full results, see the "Results" section of the Stars website at www.cartstars.com.
The Stars tour resumes in two weeks with the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in California. This race will be televised by SPEED channel later in the season.
The Champ Car 'Stars of Tomorrow' presented by RACER karting series is the official first level in CART's driver development system and an officially sanctioned series of WKA/SCCA Pro Racing. Founded by racing star Bryan Herta and now owned in conjunction with a group of racing veterans, including three-time CART champion and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, the Stars of Tomorrow serves as the first step for the CART driver development ladder. Stars focuses on recognizing the skills of the drivers rather than the technology development within the machines, using FIA/CIK International standards. More information can be found at www.cartstars.com.
Snap-on Incorporated is a leading global developer, manufacturer and marketer of tool and equipment solutions for professional tool users. Product lines include hand tools, power tools, automotive diagnostics and shop equipment, tool storage products, automotive diagnostics software and other solutions for the transportation service, industrial, government, education, agricultural, and other commercial applications, including construction and electrical. Products are sold through its franchise dealer van, company direct sales and distributor and internet channels. Founded in 1920, Snap-on is a $2+ billion, S&P 500 company headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin and employs approximately 14,000 worldwide. More information can be found at www.snap-on.com.
DODGE GRAND PRIX OF WINDSOR RESULTS (June 29, 2003)
STARS OF TOMORROW <pre> ICC Main Event Rotax 1. Bobby Wilson 1. Matthew France 2. Robbie Pecorari 2. James Hinchcliffe 3. Graham Rahal 3. Tom Cadieux
80cc Junior 4-Stroke Senior 1. Kyle Rahal 1. Dave Patrick 2. Keaton Doerkson 2. Ben Morgan 3. Matt Pritiko 3. Jennifer Rempel
125 Moto 4-Stroke Junior 1. Alex Penfold 1. Tyler Hendricks 2. Howie Idelson 2. Gregory Rempel 3. Justin Mullins 3. Kyle Simons
NEXT RACE: July 11-13, BRIDGESTONE GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA, Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, California (To be aired on SPEED CHANNEL)