Chip Bryant padded his scant lead over rival Akihira Okamoto at the Formula Dodge Eastern/Midwestern Regional Race Series this past weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Course. The emotionally charged race events were a combination of extreme highs and...
Chip Bryant padded his scant lead over rival Akihira Okamoto at the Formula Dodge Eastern/Midwestern Regional Race Series this past weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Course. The emotionally charged race events were a combination of extreme highs and severe lows. On the high side, Bryant was perfect winning both his races and setting the track record on the second of his outings with a time of 1:39.709 sec. Okamoto proved almost his equal, winning once and taking second place in separate races. Okamoto now trails Bryant by 11 points in the chase for the Championship through six of the eight race weekends.
Okamoto started things off correctly by taking the win in Group 1, Race 1 action. He overtook race leader Curt Andrews on lap 9 and held the point thereafter. Gareth Nixon took second place honors, Andrews finished in third.
Bryant held serve in Group 2, Race 1, winning in flag-to-flag fashion ahead of Damian Della Santina (2nd) and Chris Hewitt (3rd). This race featured a tight battle for first through fourth positions before Bryant distanced himself midway through the contest, perhaps sending a subtle message in the process.
Mikel Miller won the first of his four races in Group 3, Race 1, winning from pole in front of Juan Manuel Polar (2nd) and Tim Traver (3rd). Polar had an outstanding drive, a textbook race, to take the second spot after starting from 16th on the grid.
In the fourth race of the day, Dan Kraus' win eclipsed another valiant effort for second place. Paul Zube gained 13 positions to put pressure on Kraus but couldn't best him and had to settle for the second spot. Andy Newell gained two positions on his last lap to secure third place.
In Group 5, Race 1 racing, Mikel Miller won from pole but not before withstanding heavy pressure from eventual second place finisher Gary Longo. Toshinobu Shigemitsu claimed third place for the session.
The second day at the track started off with another opportunity for Akihira Okamoto to cut into the Bryant's overall points lead. It didn't happen. Raphael Martin ran a brilliant race, winning Group 1, Race 2 after starting from ninth, to deny Okamoto the maximum points. Martin also set a new track record to that point with a time of 1:40.112 sec. Okamoto finished the race in second place, Paul Arnold in third.
In Group 2, Race 2, Bryant, running his second race of the weekend, nabbed the win and bested the previously set course record by 0.4 sec. Damian Della Santina and Tim Rose were the second and third place finishers, respectively.
Group 3, Race 2 featured Mikel Miller [again] winning his third time out, taking the checkered flag five seconds ahead of Juan Manuel Polar (2nd). Chris Willcox took third place honors as well as maximum points in the Master's Class category.
In Group 4, Race 2, Dan Kraus benefited from a mistake by Paul Zube that allowed him to pull away from the field and secure the win by over five seconds. Zube, who had started from the second spot, committed no other faults and successfully defended his turf to earn a second place result. Andy Newell finished in third. Hirotoshi Takeuchi had an excellent ride, progressing from 15th at the start to finish in sixth.
Mikel Miller won his last race convincingly to go four-for-four on the weekend. Gary Longo, Brian Kleeman, David Weiringa and Chris Otis all fought for the next-best results with the positions finally going to Longo (2nd) and Kleeman (3rd).
In the Memorial, the day's final event, Chris Hewett took the win ahead of Okamoto (2nd) and Alex Kramer (3rd). Kramer drove nattily, darting from 14th to take the last spot on the podium. The race was shortened by tragedy when a racer, Tim Todd, suffered a heart attack on lap 15. His car left the track without any apparent guidance and ended up in a protective barrier. Todd was immediately attended to by EMTs and track personnel but was pronounced dead en route to the hospital. The Skip Barber Organization extends its condolences to his family, friends and fellow-racers.
- Andrew Torres