The appeal of the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Championship proved to be too much for 25 new racers that took to the grid for the season opener last Friday at Lime Rock Park. After Round 1 and 2 action, Rookie Ernesto Jose Viso and...
The appeal of the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Championship proved to be too much for 25 new racers that took to the grid for the season opener last Friday at Lime Rock Park. After Round 1 and 2 action, Rookie Ernesto Jose Viso and Matthew Koskinen are tied with 40 points while veteran racers Don Drislane, Len Forman and Mike Marino follow closely with 35 points in the early season tally. Forman was a perfect two-for-two in Masters competition and sets the pace in the 40-plus category, narrowly ahead of fellow Master racers Randy Youngsma, Dan Dunson, Dana Martin and Ed Somma, all tied at 35 points.
Group 1 race 1 took to the grid under cloudy, damp conditions. Barber Dodge Pro Series racer David Weiringa took advantage of a rare miscue by Don Drislane on lap 20, then led the final six laps to take his first win of the Eastern series over Drislane by a thin 0.06 second margin. Weiringa had a fantastic first lap, advancing three positions from fifth, to set up his pursuit of Drislane, who had started on pole. Weiringa was joined on the podium by fellow Barber Dodge Pro Series racer Rhonda Trammell who had earned a third place result.
Rookie Ernesto Jose Viso's first Skip Barber Race Series win was notable for three reasons: a) it was his first race competition in a car b) he set the fastest lap in the 24 lap contest (0.58.789 sec.) c) he motored to a 0.05 second margin of victory. The 16-year old karter's first car race result suggests more of the same throughout the season. Viso, who started from third, passed Bob Sayers and Jim Mevay early, then held the point for the balance of the race. Sayers and Norio Takeda followed in second and third. Mark Patterson earned maximum points for his Masters class win.
In group 3 race 1, Matthew Koskinen overcame his start from sixth to take his first win of the season. Koskinen waged a spirited battle with Andy Newell and Tom Sands before taking the lead for good on lap 21. Sands, who recorded fastest lap with a time of 0:59.119 sec., finished in second place and Newell, third. Brad Parker was dynamic, advancing from 12th to finish just outside the podium in fourth. Parker nabs the Masters win ahead of Dana Martin, sixth overall and second in Masters.
Polesitter Roland Isra led flag-to-flag in a dominant 12-second margin victory over Chris Oliver and Ed Somma in group 4 race 1 action. Fifth place finisher David Kaemmer recorded fastest lap with a time of 0:58.446 sec. Lawrence Stephens rebounded from a poor grid position to finish in eighth and earn most progressive driver distinction.
Masters phenom Len Forman and Mike Marino were engaged in a deliberate battle in the day's last race. Marino, from third, passed the polesitter Forman on lap 7, then held the point for 5 laps before succumbing to Forman's pressure. Forman's margin of victory over the persistent Marino was 0.052 sec. Sixth place starter Rob Grien moved up three position to take third place and a spot on the rostrum.
The theme of day two's racing action was vengeance. Don Drislane captured his first win of the season, redemption of sorts for a win that alluded him a day earlier. But the win didn't come easy. Drislane was fortunate to recover from a spin in West Bend but the untimely rotation caused David Weiringa to hit the tire barrier, ending his race and bringing out the full course yellow. At the restart, Drislane was relegated to last on the grid if only temporarily. He regrouped neatly and passed five cars on the first lap of resumed action. He then set the fastest lap with a time of 0:58.635 sec., battling his way up front to set up a pass of Rhonda Trammell for the eventual win. Trammell finished on the podium for the second consecutive day, earning second place to Mitch Perry's third place result. Dan Dunson claimed the Masters win and an impressive fifth place overall.
Rookie Ernesto Jose Viso proved that race 1 action was not a hoax. The young Brazilian won from pole and captured fastest lap for the second consecutive day. Norio Takeda challenged Viso and made him work for the narrow victory, only a second separating first and second place. Bob Sayers joined the two on the podium by claiming the third place spot. Terry Ray was the most progressive driver in group 2 race 2, moving up from seventh to finish in fourth. Ray also claimed the all-important Masters bounty for best in the 40-plus category.
Group 3 race 2 saw Matthew Koskinen win his second race in wire-to-wire to fashion over Andy Newell and Tom Sands. Newell set the fastest lap of the bunch with an impressive time of 0:59.207 sec. Dana Martin finished just off the podium with an admirable fourth place result but managed to take maximum Masters points with the class win. Ney Bezerra, by virtue of his upgrade from ninth to fifth, earns the group's most progressive driver distinction.
David Kaemmer and Roland Isra were in each other's mirrors for most of group 4 race 2. Isra, from pole, held off Kaemmer until lap 10, when Kaemmer was able to wrestle the point from the grizzled veteran. Kaemmer remained in front for the balance 16 laps but Isra dropped to finish in fifth. Ed Somma and Chris Oliver scrapped with Bill Telesco for the final podium spots before finally taking the checkered flag in the second and third positions. Somma's second place result is sweeter for having taken the Masters bounty.
Mike Marino passed polesitter Len Forman before the first circuit completed, then led 19 of 25 laps to take the win in group 5 race 1. Forman, who was the only other race leader, took the checkered flag less than a second after Marino tripped the win. John Brice registered third and his first podium of the weekend. Forman's Masters win propelled him into the early season points lead.
In the Memorial, Barber Dodge Pro Series racer Akihira Okomoto notched the win over Roland Isra and David Weiringa. New driver Brad Ruthberg flirted with a podium position, moving up to third before finishing with a fourth place result.
The Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Race Series heads North to New Hampshire for rounds 3 and 4 of the 16 round series on June 2-3.
- Andrew Torres