ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Mike Moser, of Milwaukee, Wis., earned his first SCCA National Championship Runoffs win, topping the H Production class at Road America.
Mike Origer, of Barrington, Ill., finished second. Another Wisconsinite, Greg Gauper, from Hubertus, finished third.
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Gumout pole winner Moser led the field through Turn One with Origer on his tail, but the fight for the lead would have to wait for three laps, after an opening lap incident in Turn Five brought out a full-course caution.
When racing resumed on lap four, Moser’s No. 01 ETE Reman/RWM Auto/Goodyear Honda CRX led a breakaway pack of four cars (Moser, Origer, Chris Albin and Gauper) until lap seven, when second-place Origer made his move. The Runoffs rookie drafted past Moser and into the lead in Turn One. Moser pulled the exact same move four turns later, however, drafting Origer on the downhill to Turn Five and diving to the inside.
“He overtook me and I figured I’d let him go, but I got a really good run out of Turn Three and into Five,” Moser said. “I out-braked him, went to the inside and was able to get ahead. He was still in my mirror for a couple of laps, but once I got a little distance I settled down a bit and ran my race. Fortunately for me, it turned out good.”
Moser’s re-pass for the lead earned him the GoPro Hero Move of the Race. From that point forward, Moser was able to steadily pull a gap on Origer, setting the Hawk Fastest Race Lap in the process, a 2:40.873 (89.512 mph). He crossed the finish line with a 4.016-second margin of victory.
“This feels great,” Moser said with a grin. “I’m still trying to take it in. Even after the checkered flag, I’m wondering ‘did I really do this?’ I’m looking forward to more in the years to come.”
Starting third, Origer made sure to stick to the back of Moser’s bumper on the start, enabling him to pass Chris Albin, of Maryland Heights, Mo., for second. On the lap-four restart, Albin was all over Origer’s No. 0 Remax/Unlimited NW Volkswagen Scirocco, but became distracted by his own battle for third. This allowed Origer to re-focus his attention on Moser, whom he passed on lap seven, briefly taking the lead.
“I wanted to see if the air was any better out there,” joked Origer. “He [Moser] gave me a little room and I had some speed coming up the front straight. I put my nose in there, but then he decided he was going to take it back. I figured I would follow the leader until the end, but I got myself a bit wide, mid-way through the race in Canada Corner, and I think I knocked my alignment off. It didn’t seem to have the grip that it did before.”
Indeed, shortly after his passing attempt for the lead, the gap to Moser began to steadily increase. Origer would have to settle for second in his first Runoffs appearance.
Driving the No. 15 Rana Mort Racing/Goodyear Honda Civic Si, Gauper fought Albin for third through the first half of the race as Moser and Origer were hooked up out front.
“It was a great race for the four of us,” Gauper recalled. “In all my years of running, I know it’s important to stay in single-file early, because as soon as you break the draft, you’re going to get left behind. I was trying to discipline myself to the point that, even though at one point I had a shot at Chris [Albin], I thought it was more important to stay behind him and push him and keep up with the two Mikes (Moser and Origer).”
At the same time, Origer was making his bid for the lead, Gauper decided it was his time to make a run on Albin for the final podium spot.
“I don’t know what happened to Chris about halfway, because all of a sudden I had a great run on him out of Turn Three and it was like he was parked,” recalled Gauper. “I figured I couldn’t wait for him to get going, so I set off after the two Mikes, but I didn’t have enough to catch them without the drafting help. I think if I’d had Chris to help me push, I might have been able to get closer.”
According to Gauper, the defending HP Champion, collecting the bronze on this day was equally as rewarding as Runoffs gold.
“That was a lot of fun,” smiled Gauper. “I think I worked harder for this third than I did for the win last year. I was whipped out getting out of the car. That was definitely one of the most fun races I’ve run.”
Albin’s No. 3 Hoosier/24-7-parts.com/AMT engines Volkswagen Golf GTI crossed the line in fourth. Jason Isely, of Coto de Cazda, Calif., finished fifth in the No. 99 RACER.com/Hoosier/AST/OS Giken/TRD Toyota Yaris.