Skip Barber National at Mosport: Boys to Men BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Canada (July 21) - Mosport International is a track where all but one of its 10 corners are fast, high speed sweepers, fourth and fifth gear for the most part, with blind turn-ins....
Skip Barber National at Mosport: Boys to Men
BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Canada (July 21) - Mosport International is a track where all but one of its 10 corners are fast, high speed sweepers, fourth and fifth gear for the most part, with blind turn-ins. To spice things up, a few downhill off-camber complexes are thrown into the mix. Oh, and there's very little run-off area. In other words, Mosport is a track that historically separates the men from the boys.
That being the case, all the teenage boys in the Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER must well and truly be ''men,'' as they put on a heck of a show, refusing to let Mosport intimidate them -- especially when you consider only two of the drivers had previously even set foot on the grounds before this week. Then even more so when it's learned that none of the competitors had driven the track in the rain -- which, of course, started to fall heavily just before the start of the first of the two races.
The front row was Benny Moon and Lorenzo Mandarino, with Robbie Pecorari third and Gerardo Bonilla fourth. The first attempt at a green was waved off, but next time by they went at it, rain still falling. Moon shot off the road in Turn Three, handing the lead to Bonilla, while Mandarino was shuffled back to sixth. During that first lap Chris Prey rocketed up to second (from fifth) while Pecorari kept his third. A lap later, Mandarino benignly spun in Nine but was nailed by an unfortunate Jonathan Eriksen as he scrambled back on the track, both done for the day. After a lap of yellow, Bonilla enjoyed the point for just one more lap; a slight bobble in Turn Five (the one corner that's second gear) meant Prey got the run and passed him up the long backstraight.
At this point the rain essentially had ended -- and Pecorari showed exactly why Bryan Herta, Paul Zalud (Stars of Karting principals) and Randy Kugler (of the WKA) chose him to be the first Skip Barber National/Stars of Karting Scholarship winner last November. He was the first of the frontrunners to seriously explore the grip levels closer to the dry line, and he gained huge time by doing so. By lap nine Pecorari bundled past Bonilla for second, then a lap later he took care of Prey in Turn Two. Prey fought back and stayed right on Pecorari's gearbox through the remaining four laps, but the case was closed. Pecorari had his first Skip Barber National win (and a man-sized dose of new-found confidence).
Championship contender Victor Ramos struggled in qualifying (eighth) but hauled himself to fourth at the end, while points leader Marco Andretti was off-form (''I can't seem to get a real handle on this place, and I've been loose since practice.''), glad to get fifth. Mark Burt is now starting to poke at the sharp end of the field and took a very well driven sixth, while Moon recovered nicely to seventh. Jeff Relic, John Edwards and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10.
For race two, the weather was hot, the track was dry -- and one of the best Formula Dodge races ever was the result. Don't be fooled by the boxscore that shows the poleman winning and his frontrowmate second. This was nose to tail and side by side racing for 25 fantastic, furious minutes. How close was the racing? The last place car was less than 12 seconds behind the leader at the end.
Having impressively secured his second pole in as many days, Moon, leading a perfectly formed field to the green, had Pecorari alongside (see what some extra confidence can do?), Bonilla behind and Burt (ditto on the confidence factor) next to him. They crossed the line at the end of the first lap in that order -- and that would be the last time the order stayed the same lap to lap with respect to the top five. To wit: Second place changed hands nine times; third place, 12 times; fourth place, 10 times; and fifth place, nine times. At the front? Moon's smallest of wiggles in Five allowed Bonilla to draft past on the backstraight on lap three, but Moon repaid the favor two laps later. Yeah, sure, Moon led the rest of the way, but he was under constant attack (''Oh, man, I just wanted to turn my mirrors down. All I was thinking was, 'Consistent laps, no mistakes!'''), and his ''lead'' was never more than three car lengths.
Pecorari, who had been shuffled as far back as sixth, clawed back to second; Mandarino even more impressively got to third despite being eighth mid-race; Burt decisively showed that his previous result was no fluke, coming home fourth (and had run in second place two different times); and fifth was Prey, equally busy up and down the field to get back to where he started. Perez finally got a result (sixth), while Andretti was much more of a factor -- he was as high as second, on lap six -- as he fought a loose car, but skated off twice in Five and had to settle for seventh. Edwards and relic ran well again, but Bonilla's 10th was a disappointment. At the start of the last lap he was third, behind Pecorari, but as the two rocketed up to Three, Pecorari's car slowed subtly but suddenly. Either of two things happened: ''The engine burped'' (Pecorari). ''Defensive'' (Bonilla). Either way, Bonilla had a choice. Back off and most assuredly lose third to Mandarino, or dive inside and try to make the corner and take second. He didn't make the corner.
Next up: Rounds 11 and 12, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Friday and Saturday (July 24-25), a track with fast sweepers, blind corners, only a couple of drivers having raced there before... oh, boy... dejà vu is a French phrase, right?
<pre> Race Results, Rounds 9 & 10, Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER, Mosport International Raceway, July 20-21
Round 9 13 laps of 2.5-mile circuit/32.5 miles (conditions: wet to damp) Margin of Victory: 0.560 seconds Leaders: Gerardo Bonilla 1-4; Chris Prey 5-9; Robbie Pecorari 10-13 Fastest Qualifier: Benny Moon, 1:32.751/97.034 mph Fastest Race-lap: Bonilla, 1:43.678/86.807 mph, lap 13
Finishing order (starting position in parentheses) 1. (3) Robbie Pecorari, Aston, Pa. 13 laps 73.488 mph race average 2. (5) Chris Prey, Oshkosh, Wis. 3. (4) Gerardo Bonilla, Orlando, Fla. 4. (8) Victor Ramos, Brasilia, Brazil 5. (6) Marco Andretti, Nazareth, Pa. 6. (7) Mark Burt, Debary, Fla. 7. (1) Benny Moon, Shingle Springs, Calif. 8. (10) Jeff Relic, Palm Coast, Fla. 9. (9) John Edwards, Little Rock, Ark. 10. (11) Sergio Perez, Zapopan, Mexico 11. (12) Robin Warner, Ann Arbor, Mich. 12. (13) Jonathan Eriksen, Northville, N.Y. 2 laps accident 13. (2) Lorenzo Mandarino, Vancouver, B.C., Canada 1 lap accident
Round 10, July 21, 2004 16 laps of 2.5-mile, 10-turn circuit/40.0 miles (conditions: dry) Margin of Victory: 1.038 seconds Leaders: Benny Moon 1-2; Gerardo Bonilla 3-4; Moon 5-16 Fastest Qualifier: Moon, 1:32.978/96.797 mph Fastest Race-lap: Marco Andretti, 1:33.304/96.459 mph, lap 15
Finishing order (starting position in parentheses) 1. (1) Benny Moon, Shingle Springs, Calif. 16 laps 94.951 mph race average 2. (2) Robbie Pecorari, Aston, Pa. 3. (7) Lorenzo Mandarino, Vancouver, B.C., Canada 4. (4) Mark Burt, Debary, Fla. 5. (5) Chris Prey, Oshkosh, Wis. 6. (10) Sergio Perez, Zapopan, Mexico 7. (6) Marco Andretti, Nazareth, Pa. 8. (8) John Edwards, Little Rock, Ark. 9. (11) Jeff Relic, Palm Coast, Fla. 10. (3) Gerardo Bonilla, Orlando, Fla. 11. (13) Jonathan Eriksen, Northville, N.Y. 12. (12) Robin Warner, Ann Arbor, Mich. 13. (9) Victor Ramos, Brasilia, Brazil 7 laps suspension
Points standings after 10 of 14 rounds: 1. Marco Andretti 140 2. Benny Moon 127 3. Chris Prey 125 4. Gerardo Bonilla 114 5. Victor Ramos 113 6. Robbie Pecorari 110 7. Lorenzo Mandarino 94 8. John Edwards 58 9. Jeff Relic 53 10. Mark Burt 50 11. Sergio Perez 49 12. Harrison Brix 31 13. Matt Varsha 30 14. Robin Warner 29 15. Jason Bowles 23