SBRS: Eastern Regional Series finale Lime Rock report

All Good Things To Those Who Wait Ernesto Viso and Mark Patterson had their championship aspirations confirmed this weekend in the Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Series finale. Viso, the exciting young rookie from Venezuela and Mark Patterson,...

All Good Things To Those Who Wait

Ernesto Viso and Mark Patterson had their championship aspirations confirmed this weekend in the Formula Dodge Eastern Regional Series finale. Viso, the exciting young rookie from Venezuela and Mark Patterson, the Masters favorite for some time, were officially coronated as the competitive series came to a close at picturesque Lime Rock Park. Among the 64 racers were six Formula Dodge National Championship regulars, who upped the competitive ante as they scoped out the track for this weekend's Round 9 action. [read story in the Skip Barber News] http://www.skipbarber.com/news/article.asp?AID=742]

Friday's race may as well have been an unofficial National Championship event. Group 1 race 1 featured the six FDNC pilots. Taking them on from the East were Scott Poirier, Matt Franc and Todd Russo. Poirier, who had contested two earlier FDNC rounds at Grattan, started from pole before being tracked down by A.J. Allmendinger on lap 24. Allmendinger led the way the remaining 5 laps en route to his first ever Skip Barber Race Series win. The victory was the former karting star's first ever in a racecar. Poirier maintained second to finish in front of the aptly named Ben Moore III, in third.

Ernesto Viso and Norio Takeda scrapped hard in this group 2 race 1 matchup. Viso could only wait out Takeda's charge, eventually passing the skilled Japanese racer with six laps to go. Viso would set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 0:57.787 sec. Polesitter Andy Newell was knocked out in the downhill avoiding a spinning car. Mike Marino, third place in the standings entering the weekend, finished in third.

Group 3 race 1 saw Jeff Brewer steadily advance from fourth to first over the first few laps, then maintain the point and collect the checkered flag ahead of first time racer Ken Cloonan and Allan Zeiker. Cloonan's charge from 11th to second place earned him the most progressive driver. Bill Yontz and Allan Zeiker were among several engaged in notable battles that ran the entire race.

Fifth place starter Matt Franc contested his second race of the day, one that saw him leap over Randy Youngsma, Nick Jones and polesitter R.J. Smith to claim the lead mid-way through the race. Franc would lead all remaining 17 laps to claim first prize over Jones and Dave Figurski. Jones applied relentless pressure on Franc before the pacesetter was able to open a lead in the closing laps en route to his victory.

In the day's final race, Steve Vadja assumed the point before lap 1 was complete then held off charges from John Angelone and later Christiano Piquet before taking the final flag. Angelone, who set the fastest lap of the group with a time of 0:59.209 sec., passed Piquet with three laps to go to claim second place. Piquet drove an inspired race, moving through the field deftly from 11th to claim the final podium spot. Dan Andrus and Bob Manzella were involved in a late race skirmish for the last top-5 spot.

Drizzle and the threat of rain led to the R/T 2000's being rolled out on Michelin treaded tires. Conditions worsened as the skies opened up on group 1 race 2. Polesitter A.J. Allmendinger was looking to repeat as winner but a late spin took him out of contention. Julio Campos, the FDNC series points leader, was there to take advantage of the miscue, perhaps sending Allmendinger a message that next week's Round 9 was up for grabs. Scott Poirier, who led early and maintained his track etiquette despite the sloppy track, collected second over Eastern regional regular Todd Russo.

Mike Marino leapt over polesitter Ernesto Viso and Chris Oliver in the start of group 2 race 2, then played keep-away over the final 16 laps. The battle for second place was fought by Bob Sayers, Viso and David Kaemmer, eventually won by Sayers, who started from fifth. Kaemmer would claim third place, advancing three spots from sixth. Viso finished fourth, consoled by the championship and his fastest lap time of 1:19.001 sec. set in wet conditions. The rain didn't seem to bother Tom Sands, who was at his best in picking up 10 spots to finish in the top-5.

By group 3 race 2, the rain had abated and blue sky represented the promise of faster lap times and track decorum. On the drying track, Allan Zeiker assumed the point from Chris Milton Hall, who led his first ever race for the inaugural lap. Zeiker would remain the front man for the remaining 19 laps, setting fastest lap with a time of 1:07.396 sec. First time racer Brook Halvorson did his best to upset Zeiker, applying pressure to the final flag and falling just .293 sec. shy of the mark. Ken Cloonan finished in third to collect his second podium of the weekend.

Polesitter Nick Jones fought off a hard charge from Dave Figurski, who led seven laps at one point, to claim the win in group 4 race 2. Figurski and Jones checked out, suggesting that this race was between them and no one else. Jim Mevay, who had dropped to sixth, led the charge back for the final rostrum spot over the competitive likes of Bill Telesco and R.J. Smith. Steve Savino displayed signs of things to come next season with his spirited run from ninth to sixth.

By the day's last race, the weather and track conditions had completely recovered. Christiano Piquet gridded from third, determined to leave Lime Rock with a win under his belt. Only Steve Vadja and John Angelone stood in his way. Once Piquet passed Angelone, he was basically undisturbed for the duration, tripping fastest lap as he built a substantial lead. The Brazilian would go on to a 0:27 sec. margin victory over Vadja. Dom Seddio's drive from 13th to a top-5 result netted him the most progressive driver of the group.

Adding drama to the weekend, the Masters race was the final event of the Eastern Series. Mark Patterson sidestepped polesitter Jim Mevay on lap 1 then kept the point from a combination of challengers that included the savvy Mike Wert, Todd Russo, Lorin Gill and Dave Figurski. Figurski, who finished second, shined as he advanced from 15th, trying to catch Patterson over the final seven laps. Wert claimed third place by fending off Gill. Midwest Masters champion Roland Isra added spice to the already intense level of competition until he retired after contact with Russo.

Congratulations to Ernesto Viso, Mark Patterson and all our Eastern Regional Series competitors, families and friends.

- Andrew Torres

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Julio Campos , Roland Isra , A.J. Allmendinger , Scott Poirier , Skip Barber , Mark Patterson , Nick Jones , John Angelone , David Kaemmer , Ernesto Viso