SEBRING, Fla. – SCCA Club Racers officially rang in the new year with checkered flags today at the BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Sebring Super Tour at Sebring Int’l Raceway, Round One of the Eastern Conference Majors Tour.
Saturday featured seven groups of 30-minute sprint races, covering all 27 SCCA National Championship Runoffs-eligible classes.
The day opened with defending E Production National Champion Greg Ira running flag to flag to carry his momentum into the new season. Ira’s No. 2 Starbrite Startron Datsun 240Z was chased by Kip Vansteenburg’s No. 111 German Excellence Porsche 944 through the middle stages of the race. Vansteenburg had a mechanical issue that forced him to the rear of the field to start the race, but closed to just over five seconds with two laps to go. The mechanical gremlins raised their ugly head again for Vansteenburg on the final lap, however, and Ira cruised to the win.
In the same group, B-Spec battle started the 2014 season in spectacular fashion. By the midpoint, the top four had spread into two groups – the first holding polesitter Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda2 and the No. 30 Indian Summer Racing/SOLID Mini Cooper of Travis Washay, the second a battle between the elder Ernie Francis’ No. 21 Breathless Performance Mazda2 and the No. 07 Dynasty Racing/HPD/Hoosier Honda Fit of Chi Ho. Washay, who started five spots on the grid behind the younger Francis but caught up quickly, made his first serious move into turn one at the start of the penultimate lap. Francis stayed in front, but Washay made the pass for the lead on the final lap and grabbed the checkered flag. Ho and Francis, Sr. battled for the final podium spot in their race, with Ho earning the position.
While Group One had a full course caution on the opening lap and ran clean the rest of the way, Group Two’s poorly timed caution periods kept the race from truly developing a rhythm. The carnage began on the pace lap, when the No. 89 Formula Enterprises machine of James Hanrahan backed into the tire barriers at Turn 8. The race started the clock and ran three laps under yellow.
Sedat Yelkin, the Formula Atlantic defending champion, took off from pole in his No. 75 Everclear Swift 014/Toyota once the green flag flew. Deeper in the field, Brandon Kennedy’s No. 14 Osinga Construction Inc./Hage Tool Formula Enterprises machine and the No. 73 Performance MotorCars of Charlotte/Syvel Images/Dangerous Cargo machine of Paul Schneider had begun to battle for the lead.
Yelkin’s lead and the Formula Enterprises battle evaporated on lap seven with 12 minutes remaining when Ty Young’s Formula Mazda got into the barriers in turn one. Yelkin pulled out immediately on the restart with less than five minutes remaining, but the break also allowed Kennedy to get away from Schneider for the class win.
JR Osborne set a new track record on his way to the Formula 1000 win, while Jacek Mucha and Richard Colburn earned the first-ever wins in the Club’s new Prototype 1 and Prototype 2 classes.
Craig Berry led 71 Spec Miatas to the checkered flag, then dared the entire field to keep pace with him his No. 20 Granite Remnant Mazda Miata at the front of the field.
Berry started in front with a familiar dance partner, the No. 2 East Street Racing Miata of Jim Drago. By lap five, Drago had been shuffled back, and the No. 57 Momo/Apex Alignment Miata of Alex Bolanos and the No. 8 Cahall/Driver Coaching/Hawk Miata of Todd Lamb were challenging for the lead. Lamb’s brake lights came on quickly just past the start/finish line as his day essentially ended, leaving Bolanos as the lone true contender with Berry.
Bolanos moved in front on lap seven, with 12 minutes to go in the race. Berry stayed in second until lap 10, when the eventual winner regained the lead for good.