Cleveland: John Walko race report

Top Ten for Anti in Cleveland Debut, Walker Quick Again Charles Anti scored the high finish of the weekend for John Walko Racing finishing ninth on the shores of Lake Erie. Russell Walker's very strong run was thwarted by an accident while...

Top Ten for Anti in Cleveland Debut, Walker Quick Again

Charles Anti scored the high finish of the weekend for John Walko Racing finishing ninth on the shores of Lake Erie. Russell Walker's very strong run was thwarted by an accident while working his way in to the top five early in the race.

Both drivers showed promise during the Grand Prix of Cleveland despite starting the weekend nearly a full session behind the rest of the field noted team owner John Walko.

"We were all really looking forward to racing at Cleveland as it is as close as we have to a home track. Unfortunately things started out a little rough as Charles lost an engine and Russell had an electrical program half way through the opening session."

Walker qualified in the fast group while Anti unfortunately was relegated to the first group thanks to missing much of his practice time. According to Walko, the opening group just had too big of a hurdle to climb.

"Charles had his back against the wall in qualifying unfortunately. Losing the engine cost us valuable track time and as a result he didn't have the lap times that would put him in the first group where he would typically be. The rubber from the series before proved to be a bad match and nearly everyone in the first group struggled."

"Russell on the other hand had the benefit of a clean track and qualified seventh, which is probably where we should have been in relation to the front runners after missing most of a session."

Each driver shined at various times during the race with Walker turning very fast laps early in the race and pressuring the leaders. Anti made a spectacular move on a restart then had a furious battle with Ron White and later Devin Cunningham, eventually settling in for a ninth place finish.

"Charles did a great job in the race, picking his way through the pair of accidents and moving in to the top ten. The rest of the race he found himself in a dogfight with some of the series leaders and held his own. It was a nice finish to what was at times a frustrating outing."

"At race time Russell got caught out at the start and dropped a few positions. It didn't faze him though and he started picking people off each lap, setting the fastest laps of the race at the time. He was flying, it was fun to watch! He was the most competitive I've ever seen him. Unfortunately he caught the wall at the exit of turn eight chasing down Ron White and that was the end of his day. Russell is proving himself as one of the quick guys; his time is going to come very soon."

Next on the JWR schedule is two days of testing at BeaveRun MotorSports Complex, including work on the new tire package, followed by the seventh race on the schedule the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto. All three cars will be in attendance at the test with both Walker and Anti scheduled to drive. Drivers wishing to join JWR for the test should contact John Walko Racing as soon as possible.

Team Quotes

Charles Anti:

"A water seal in the engine broke in the first session so we only had a handful of laps and played catch-up until race time. Every time I went out though I had more fun; it is such an awesome track, very much a driver's track. The one yellow really helped as I was able to pick up a number of spots going in to turn one when everyone checked up. From that point on the racing was really close; I had a really good battle with Devin Cunningham to the end. It was a very fun race."

Steve Dreizler, Engineer for Charles Anti:

"This is a stretch of two brand new tracks Charles has never seen before. He worked hard to improve every session and steadily improved during the race as well. Unfortunately he was the victim of a series of events that kept him a bit behind the curve all weekend. We lost an engine early putting him a session behind and ultimately in the slower qualifying group that had to deal with a bad rubber situation from the series that ran before. Once the race started though, he kept his nose clean, raced hard and came home with a solid finish."

Russell Walker:

"I feel like I made a big breakthrough at Cleveland as far as my attitude heading in to the race. I think I learned the final lesson on track as well in terms of making sure I am driving my own car at all times rather than the competitions. One small error in that respect is all that took us out of the race. We had a great car - I was attacking when the opportunities were there, conserving tires otherwise and working through the field. Unfortunately that one error was enough to end a very good run. I still feel the momentum though and it continues to build. We'll take it to Beaverun for testing and then attack at Toronto."

Eric Langbein, Engineer for Russell Walker:

"I do see it as a positive weekend. Russell continues to learn and while the lessons seem big this week, he is still learning the things most of these other drivers have gone through in the lower formula car ranks. The important thing is that he never makes the same mistake twice and just gets better and better each time out. In the race he had the fastest car on the track before going out and had a car for the podium for sure."

-credit: johnwalkoracing

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Ron White , Russell Walker , Charles Anti , Eric Lang , Devin Cunningham