F-MAZDA: Sonoma rounds 8, 9 summary

F-MAZDA: Sonoma rounds 8, 9 summary
Sep 6, 2008, 2:28 AM

Guasch and Schnur Break Into Win Column at Infineon Weaver Continues Winning Ways and Locks FM Class Championship Sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted the gathered crowd of drivers at Infineon Raceway and two new faces lit up the top step of ...

Guasch and Schnur Break Into Win Column at Infineon
Weaver Continues Winning Ways and Locks FM Class Championship

Sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted the gathered crowd of drivers at Infineon Raceway and two new faces lit up the top step of the podium as both Michael Guasch and Larry Schnur would record their first victories of the season in Rounds Eight and Nine of the MOLECULE Formula Mazda Challenge, held this past Labor Day weekend at the famed Sonoma circuit.

With championship points leader Patrick O'Neill forced to watch from the sidelines as the directors of the San Francisco Region of the SCCA denied his entry for the race weekend, his fellow competitors raked in the points.

Leading the charge for most of the weekend was Walnut Creek, California based resident Michael Guasch who captured the pole position for both races of the weekend in his #91 MOLECULE Phenom Racing Group Mazda. Kevin Woods, the pilot of the #81 World Speed Motorsports entry got a great start and was at the front of the fifty-one car field for most of Saturday's event, but Guasch was able to navigate the lapped traffic just a little bit better than Woods, using a slower Formula Continental car in the closing laps to climb into the lead the field to the checkered flag.

"Capturing the victory was definitely a thrill for me today and is right up there with participating in the podium celebration at Portland International Raceway earlier this year with the Star Mazda national championship," Guasch stated. "That traffic helped me close up on Kevin and make the move to the front but those last few laps were a handful as we all fought the oil that was being leaked over the track by one of the DSRs."

Joining Guasch and Woods on the podium was Stan Kohls, driving the #18 World Speed Motorsports Mazda, who managed to recover from a 100 MPH spin exiting turn ten midway through the event to record his fifth podium of the season.

In the Standard Formula Mazda division series standout Bill Weaver was continuing to display his mastery of the field, recording a pole position time of 1:36.798 seconds, which was three seconds faster than the new Formula 3 turbocharged Lola racecars that competed at Infineon earlier in the month. He was also quicker than quite a few cars in the Formula Atlantic class. Weaver would lead every lap of the class enroute to his eighth straight victory. "Weaver is wringing everything there is out of his Standard Mazda. This is a track the Bill knows well, and he holds the track record in Formula Mazda here so it is no surprise to anyone that he is so far up the qualifying sheet," noted series official Ben Hettema. Joining Weaver on the podium were series veterans Shawn Westerhoff, who is returning to the series as a proud new father of a baby boy, and Stew Tabak.

Pleasant summer temperatures continued as the drivers gathered for the second day of racing, but the battles up front were darker as contact between several drivers throughout the event shuffled the field. Guasch and Woods, who had battled each other the previous day would make contact in turn eleven, forcing Woods into the wall and out of the event, while Guasch had to limp around with a damaged car. With Guasch and Woods out of the way and with Kohls knocked out of the race at the start by an F1000, Larry Schnur would guide his #30 Schnur Racing World Speed Motorsports Mazda to the checkered flag for the Pro Formula Mazda victory.

"Larry had a great race. We started in a decent position, but unfortunately he had to check up a little in the turn one incident at lap one. He put his head down and was running third in a 51 car field with his eyes on the leader," commented Larry's Standing Start driver coach John Olsen. "When the opportunity arose Larry was there to take advantage of it, and he led the rest of the Formula Atlantic group to the checkered flag."

"Breaking into the win column here is an awesome experience and I would like to thank everyone at World Speed Motorsports for all their hard work throughout the season," Schnur commented. "I was able to drive a clean race today and avoid the incidents that were catching up to other drivers and got to taste the reward of victory."

Completing the Pro Formula Mazda division podium were Jim Mashburn in the #59 Magma sponsored Pro Formula Mazda and Michael Gesser in the #21 Alaska Coffee Roasting World Speed Mazda.

The story in the Standard Formula Mazda division was once again written by Bill Weaver who bettered his qualifying time from Saturday with a fast lap of 1:36.678, almost two seconds faster than his closest competitor to earn his ninth consecutive pole position. Weaver, from Fresno, California, would follow up his pole effort with another masterful drive to capture the class victory ahead of Westerhoff and series rookie Matt Kurdock. The Series will wrap up the 2008 championship at Infineon Raceway, running as a special group with NASA for the weekend on November 8-9. "I think everyone is looking forward to the season finale and having a class dedicated to our championship," commented series official Ben Hettema. "Our mixed practice session on Friday with our high-powered cars alongside Formula Vee and Formula 500 cars was hectic. It seemed that they had one foot on the brake and one on the gas, there was so much traffic it was hard to pass. Some of the smaller formula cars can barely drive 55."

-credit: mazda

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