Hirotoshi Takeuchi, Justin Blower and Brian Johnson secured first-time wins in Skip Barber Race Series action, tripping the Laguna Seca circuit with near identical times. The trio made the trip around the 2.2 mile road course circuit within ...
Hirotoshi Takeuchi, Justin Blower and Brian Johnson secured first-time wins in Skip Barber Race Series action, tripping the Laguna Seca circuit with near identical times. The trio made the trip around the 2.2 mile road course circuit within half-second of each other, setting fastest laps in their respective Formula Dodge Western Regional races en route to memorable results.
A brisk morning gradually warmed as track temperatures rose under the chirping tires of group 1 race 1. Hirotoshi Takeuchi, the P-2 starter, wrestled the lead from polesitter Brian Johnson on lap-1 and held the point for the duration. Takeuchi was in good form early, setting a fastest lap time of 1:40.654 sec. in the contest. Johnson and Roland Isra followed in second and third place. Isra earned the Masters win for best in the 40-plus category.
Justin Blower made the best of pole in the succeeding race, holding off aggressive charges from Fred Rasch and Nick Jones, who earned second and third place results. Blower's recorded a best lap around the track in 1:40.094 sec., best among the three first time winners. Dennis McEvoy earned maximum Masters points in the contest while Alex Lloyd was the most progressive driver in the race, advancing from 10th at the start to finish in seventh.
Starting from the second position, Leonardo Maia ran strong to take the win in group 3 race 1. He bettered the previous best track laps fell short of fastest of the race, which was established by second place finisher, John Knudsen. Knudsen, who trailed the winner by a thin half-second, established a new track mark of 1:39.655 sec. Hirotoshi Takeuchi took his second podium of the day with his third place result. Masters points leader Steve Sylvester collected more points with his win in the category, good for fourth overall in the race. Dave House sported a notable drive, charging from 10th on the grid to finish in the top-6.
Brian Johnson earned his first race win in the Skip Barber Race Series the hard way, against some very tough competition. Brett Arsenault, currently second in the points tally, stood between Johnson and his first victory. Johnson ably made a pass in the corkscrew with two laps to go to beat Arsenault to the checkered flag. Fred Rasch battled back nicely from an off-track excursion to finish in third. Alex Lloyd earned another most progressive driver distinction with his fine drive, from 13th at the start to finish in eighth. Emery Reynolds earned the Masters win ahead of Alex Latteri.
In the day's final action, the 1-2-3 start order stood to the finish as Tophie Stewart won handily from pole. Second place finisher Tamafumi Kamiya was unable to close ground or threaten a pass on Stewart in the 17-lap race. Tim Traver earned the third place result. Dave House, currently fourth among Masters, continued to make inroads with the class win.
Brian Johnson made it two-for-two with his second win in two days in group 1 race 2 action. The position-2 starter bested polesitter Hirotoshi Takeuchi mid-way through the contest, assuming the point on lap-8. Takeuchi and Roland Isra followed in second and third. Isra notched his second Masters win of the weekend. Craig Flax leaped from eighth to fifth on the first lap, then advanced to finish fourth and earn most progressive driver of the race.
Justin Blower also relished his second career win in group 2 race 2, pulling out to a 7.1 sec. margin victory in front of Nick Jones. Fred Rasch set fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:40.556 sec. en route to third place honors. Tom Atherton was stellar out of the box, advancing from 10th early and then pulling off a late move on the last lap to secure a top-5 result. Joe Pruskowski earned a seventh place result overall and the win in the Masters class.
Group 3 race 2 adopted a defensive tone as the 1-2-3 start order remained in tact. That was fine with Leonardo Maia who started from pole, less acceptable for John Knudsen and Hirotoshi Takeuchi, who couldn't advance. Steve Sylvester held off a bevy of talented racers to record his second Masters win of the weekend.
By group 4 race 2, Brian Johnson, with two wins in the bank, had established himself as a favorite to repeat. His pole position held up against a field filled with challengers the likes of Brett Arsenault, Keith Basso and Fred Rasch. Rasch advanced from fourth and used a mid-race pass of Arsenault to secure second place. Arsenault held on to third for the balance of the race. Dennis McEvoy recorded both the Master win and most progressive driver distinction with his ascent from 12th to ninth against a capable field.
Tophie Stewart was a two-time winner on the weekend, as he took the victory in group 5 race 2. Stewart's win from pole was deceiving as he was aggressively hounded by Tamafumi Kamiya and Seiji Tojima. Still, the young talent was able to open up a 2.1 sec. gap when he took the flag. Dave House collected more Masters points with his second win of the weekend.
In the Ann Southern Memorial, which started in a reverse grid order, Jason Holehouse, Lonnie Pechnik and Tim Traver were win, place and show in the day's final action.
The Formula Dodge Western Regional Championship remains at the popular Laguna Seca track when racing resumes on April 7-8.
- Andrew Torres