SKUSA: Team Willis Barrie race report

Team Willis/CRG Racing made it's 2nd annual trek north of the border to the SKUSA Pro Moto Tour Eastern event number 2 on June 20-23. Barrie Ontario Canada is host to the Pepsi Grand Prix presented by Mercedes Benz run at the temporary street ...

Team Willis/CRG Racing made it's 2nd annual trek north of the border to the SKUSA Pro Moto Tour Eastern event number 2 on June 20-23. Barrie Ontario Canada is host to the Pepsi Grand Prix presented by Mercedes Benz run at the temporary street circuit on the shores of Lake Simcoe in beautiful downtown Barrie. This event has become the premier karting event in North America and draws not only all of the Eastern Region competitors but most of the top drivers from the Western Region as well. On hand from Team Willis/CRG Racing were James Willis, Chris Leonard and Donnie Bussell. Matt Melster was unable to attend due to other commitments.

Team Willis/CRG Racing Super Pro driver James Willis arrived early on Thursday for a SKUSA dinner event put on by the event promoter Xtreme Motorsports Group which included representatives of Pepsi and Mercedes Benz along with many of the SKUSA Pro Moto sponsors. This was another step toward increased exposure and respect for the level of racing put on by SKUSA and the teams participating at the National Pro Moto level.

Race events began on Friday with open practice by class on the super fast temporary street circuit. While the weather looked threatening it was not a factor except for the heat and humidity which aren't normally a Canadian problem. All the Team Willis drivers were encouraged by the Friday sessions and were looking forward to Saturday's qualifying, prefinal and final events.

Saturday started by providing weather conditions again that were not typical of Barrie. James Willis got the early handle on the conditions and managed an excellent 7th fastest qualifying time in the Super Pro division. Both S1 driver Chris Leonard and 80 Jr. driver Donnie Bussell struggled and were left with 25th and 23rd place qualifying efforts respectively.

The fine qualifying effort of James Willis would prove to be his bright spot of the day as he went on to have an unbelievable string of very unusual engine related problems. James would suffer through the prefinal to finish 22nd and to improve slightly in the final to finish 20th. He could only hope for better luck on Sunday.

S1 driver Chris Leonard managed to improve on his 25th starting spot in the prefinal and finish in the 15th position. Chris too would find problems in the Saturday final and would slide back in the final field to a 25th place finish.

The very large 80 Junior field would have Donnie Bussell improve greatly on his 23rd place starting spot to take a 13th place finish in the Saturday prefinal. In the final feature he would slip back slightly to finish 14th on the day.

Sunday Pro Moto events basically start all over and run the same sequence as Saturday- qualify, prefinal and final in each class. However, the drivers qualifying fortunes would be reversed on Sunday after the string of unrelated engine problems suffered by James Willis forced him to borrow a motor in order to even make Sunday qualifying.

The Sunday qualifying spots would be 26th for James Willis, 15th for Chris Leonard and a fine 10th place for Donnie Bussell. This was almost opposite of the results from Saturday.

Despite the struggle in qualifying, James Willis managed to salvage some excellent race results by posting a 15th place finish in the prefinal and an excellent 10th place in the Sunday final. S1 driver Chris Leonard also produced an excellent set of finishes with a 10th in the prefinal and an awesome 7th in the final. Donnie Bussell struggled to a 23rd place prefinal finish but rebounded nicely to take the 11th spot in the final.

Overall, the results were excellent by all Team drivers. The Pro Moto fields are by far the strongest of any of the events we run all year. Any slight mistake or mechanical problem will quickly move you down the result sheet.

Team Willis/CRG Racing was pleased to have gotten local support at the track from Greg Ellis who is the owner/operator of the Barrie Outback Steakhouse. Outback supplied the Team with meals the entire weekend and is looking forward to increased support at future events.

As has been the case in the past, local television and radio spends the whole weekend covering this event. Team Willis was pleased to receive several interviews and airtime from the local media outlets and Roberts Cable System.

Our sincere thanks also goes out to PSL Racing who always helps out greatly on the trip north. Dominic and his staff are both helpful and supportive to all the Team Willis/CRG drivers and crew.

Team Willis will be idle for several weeks before the summer schedule kicks into full swing. Next up on the calendar is the WKA Manufacturers Cup event at South Bend Raceway Park on July 13-15. James Willis and Chris Leonard are being tapped to run the 125 Shifter National class while Donnie Bussell will run the 80 Junior class. Driver Matt Melster will participate on July 13th only as WKA presents the ICC (FIC) class as a demonstration class in anticipation of adding this class in 2003. WKA does not offer an 80 Senior (K1) class which Matt could enter.

The WKA Mfg. Cup race starts a brutal schedule of 6 races in 7 weeks. Look for more news and results very soon.


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Series Kart
Drivers James Willis