SKUSA: Wills Brothers/CRG Barrie race report

Willis Brothers / CRG Race Team participated in the 3rd Annual Barrie Grand Prix June 22-24 in Barrie Ontario Canada located about 45 miles north of Toronto. This is Round 3 of the SKUSA ProMoto Tour III and the only event held in Canada. The...

Willis Brothers / CRG Race Team participated in the 3rd Annual Barrie Grand Prix June 22-24 in Barrie Ontario Canada located about 45 miles north of Toronto. This is Round 3 of the SKUSA ProMoto Tour III and the only event held in Canada.

The Willis Brothers/CRG Team had 5 team drivers in Canada to participate in 3 classes at this very prestigious event. The Willis Brothers Team at this event were James Willis in the 125cc Super Pro class on his CRG Rebel , Chris Leonard and Pete Koch in K-1 (80 Sr) with their CRG Demon and Rebel respectively and Matt Melster and Graham Rahal in 80cc Junior with their CRG Demons. Jesse Fischbach in 60cc Junior was unable to attend with his CRG 60 Cadet.

The Team was pleased to have been asked to share the pit area "circus" tent with the Canadian CRG importer - PSL Racing Products. We accepted this invitation and are extremely glad to have done so. Dominic Labrecque and his staff from PSL where not only pleasant, but provided much needed technical and parts support all weekend. This also created a CRG presence of 10 drivers under one tent.

Friday was practice and qualifying while Saturday was for heat races and Sunday was feature race day. Friday was a bit of a struggle for all Teams as most of the practice was conducted in the rain than the track dried out just before qualifying was to start. This forced all the Teams to gamble on setup for dry conditions. The result was less than high qualifying positions for all of the Willis Brothers/CRG drivers.

The Saturday and Sunday weather in Barrie made the street race course perfect for both racing and viewing. Barrie is located on a very large lake and the race is held in conjunction with a citywide festival. The view of the track left you with the feeling of watching a race at Monoco or Long Beach. There was a carnival midway at one end of the circuit with the large pit tents at the other end. The fans were able to walk around the park freely to watch from any angle as well from the many boats anchored on the lake. Overall, this has to be one of the most impressive karting events held in North America. In addition, the 7/8 mile track was extremely fast.

All Willis Brothers/CRG drivers did well in the heat races on Saturday and managed to move on to the Sunday Finals. The 80 Junior and 80 Senior class had 2 finals while the Super Pro class only has one. After the impressive opening ceremonies with flag presentations of the 7 countries represented and the singing of the Canadian and American National anthems, the Super Pro class was the first to take the grren flag for their 31 lap Main Event.

James Willis started mid pack in the 21 kart field and was held up early by some minor incidents at the start. The leaders managed to get away clean and opened up a substantial lead on the rest of the field. James was able to move on and was up to 8th place making a pass for 7th when his chain broke at lap 17. He would be credited with a 16th place finish.

In the K-1 80 Senior Final One, both Chris Leonard and Pete Koch managed only a hand full of laps before being involved in race ending incidents. Neither driver was hurt but Pete Koch had a large amount of damage to repair before Final 2 began. Both drivers lined up deep in the field for Final Two but managed to stay out of trouble and finish the second final. Pete Koch would be credited with 5th place while Chris Leonard would take home 7th.

In the 80cc Junior group, Graham Rahal and Matt Melster qualified 17th and 18th respectively in the large field of 29 drivers. Due to problems in the Saturday heats Rahal would start near the front while Melster would start very deep in the field. The finishing spots would however prove to be opposite. Graham had a good run going early and would encounter problems only to finish in the 22nd spot while Matt was able to avoid and trouble and come home in 16th (from 28th).

In Final 2 for the 80 Juniors, both drivers would be forced to start mid pack. Rahal would again encounter problems before the end of the 21 lap event and would be credited with another 22nd place finish. Melster would also encounter problems late in the event. While running in 7th place, fast qualifier Andre DesMarais attempted a poorly timed pass and made contact with Melster. The resulting damage would force Matt to leave the track with 6 laps remaining and put him in the 14th finishing position.

Overall, it was not the most successful weekend for race results. This was however the best of the best in the shifter kart world. We will continue to improve based on the experience and knowledge we gain from attending events of this type. Thanks again to PSL Racing of Quebec Canada for all their help in making this a successful and productive weekend. Also a special thanks to SKUSA and the organizers of the Barrie Grand Prix for putting on a first class event.

Special note- Speedvision, along with most of the local and regional television stations, spend all weekend at this event filming and interviewing. We were seen several times over the weekend on the local news casts as they were showing event clips. Speedvision did film all of the events and we are being told that it will run as four separate event showings. The Super Pro race will probably air soon and the other events will follow over the summer. Watch your listings for their coverage. We will pass on any additional information we find. Tied into this was Canadian television doing a special interview with Graham Rahal. Unfortunately this will only be seen in Canada.

Our next event is Round 2 of the WKA Manufacturers Cup Series at South Bend (IN) Raceway Park. This event does not have the 80 Senior class or the 60 Junior class so only drivers James Willis, Matt Melster and Graham Rahal are scheduled to drive. Willis Brothers Racing will however be on hand to support the 100cc and other classes scheduled to compete.

-Willis Brothers/CRG Race Team

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Series Kart
Drivers Graham Rahal , James Willis