by Ed Sutcliff and Andy Feldman on November 21st, 2012
The Red Sox Racing League traveled to Motegi, Japan for the tenth race of the 2012 Season Three schedule. Host of the “Satoyma 30 Twin Ring Motegi Presented by LessTuna.com”, the 2.98 mile, 14 corner track was a perfect location for drivers and fans alike. The facility boasts not only the road course used by RSR, but also contains a 1.54 mile oval course. Built in 1997 by Honda to attract IndyCar racing, the track’s oval shaped course has also hosted CART and NASCAR events. Danica Patrick became the first woman driver to win an Indy car race when she beat Helio Castroneves at Twin Ring in 2008.
Brad Vincent earned his 9th Class A HPD pole of the season with a qualifying lap time of 1:40.050. RSR newcomer Douglas Beard earned the outside position on row one with a qualifying effort of 1:40.509. Les Turner (1:40.609) and Troy Harder (1:40.839) started on row two. John Koscielniak (1:40.936) and Ed Sutcliff (1:41.403) started in row three. Terry Daul (7th), Terry Schmidt (8th), David Weiss (9th), Andrew Feldman (10th), William Kabela (11th), Divina Galica (12th), Wilbur Gildersleeve Jr (13th) and Kyle Young (14th) completed the Class A starting grid. Gildersleeve did not start the race.
Paul Hesla earned his 6th pole of the season in the Class B Corvette field with a lap time of 1:45.568. Dennis Griffen (1:47.200), Tony Duffy (1:47.591), and Jeff Thomas (1:48.988) completed the Class B starting grid.
The entire field got off to a great start as drivers let their tires heat up before daring to make passing attempts. Their patience didn’t last long however, as drivers battled to keep pace with the lead pack. Running in 5th place on lap three, Koscielniak attacked the entry of T3 in a bid to close the gap on Harder. Harder bobbled slightly in the middle of the double corner, which forced Koscielniak to adjust his line as they entered T4. Unable to correct his car when his right side tires caught the edge of the track surface, Koscielniak watched helplessly as Sutcliff, Daul and Weiss got past him when his car spun into the infield grass. Although Koscielinak escaped the incident without damage, he was forced to drive aggressively to make up the time he’d lost to the lead pack.
Schmidt had a challenging night in Japan but lost only one spot from his 8th starting position to finish 9th. In the opening laps he struggled with the T13/T14 sequence of corners that leads onto the front straightaway and on lap three he lost control of his HPD entering T13 yielding 8th position to Weiss. After his pit stop he again ran into trouble in turns 13 and 14 going off track to let Feldman’s AppLogic HPD by. Now 4 seconds behind Feldman for 9th spot he mounted a charge and within a few laps had chased Feldman down. Feeling Schmidt’s pressure, Feldman spun his tires exiting turn 11 but Schmidt backed off and waited for a safe opportunity to make his pass. That opportunity came on the following lap when Feldman repeated his mistake in T11. This time Schmidt was ready and he ducked underneath Feldman to re-take 9th spot.
HPD driver Kyle Young had an even more challenging race. With no practice laps and only two qualifying laps under his belt, the HPD driver’s night was off to a bad start. Twin Ring is not a track to learn under race conditions. Young’s difficulties began when he forgot to brake in time for T3 on lap six. Overshooting the corner, his car kicked up a cloud of dust as it barreled through the sand and rejoined the track. A similar mistake on the next lap saw Young spin out and lose position to Kabela before he regained control. His misfortune continued six corners later when he overshot T9 and went into the grass. Accelerating hard to correct the spin and rejoin the track, Young spun back across the track and hit the inside railing in a brutal collision.
Young attempted to drive his car back to the pits despite heavy damage to his steering and suspension. He narrowly avoided incidents with the 2nd & 3rd place Class B drivers as they raced down the hill towards T11. Young’s steering was so damaged he almost missed the entrance of pit road. After getting the repairs needed to continue, Young acclimated to the unfamiliar track, and indeed set his fastest lap time (a competitive 1:42.8) on the penultimate lap, however not before playing a part in the HPD championship points battle.
Sutcliff was in 5th place and fighting to stay ahead of Daul and Koscielniak when he reached Young’s car on lap nine. Following Young through the final corners of the track, Sutcliff was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Young braked hard for T11. Sutcliff drove off the edge of the track rather than risking an accident, and then watched in disbelief as Daul and Koscielniak both passed him.
Class A results
Vincent drove an incident free race and led all 18 laps as he won his 8th race of the season. He was five seconds ahead of Beard when he crossed the finish line. Beard finished an impressive 2nd in his first RSR start.
Harder crossed the line in 3rd place to earn his second podium finish in only three RSR starts. Turner (4th), Koscielniak (5th), Daul (6th), Sutcliff (7th), Weiss (8th), Schmidt (9th), Feldman (10th), Kabela (11th), and Galica (12th) all finished on the lead lap. Young was scored one lap down in 13th place, while Kyle retired early and was scored 17 laps down.
Turner was upbeat after the race. “We sure had a tough crowd at Motegi tonight! I made one little slip in the 2nd double apex early and Troy got along side, then I had to put my head down and go as Ed was coming fast. He had a great pace early tonight. A few laps later an HPD came out of the pits and I managed to get past. Ed got trapped behind and then I didn’t see him anymore. I wasn’t sure what happened but Ed had me driving hard there for several laps. Then John stayed out an extra lap and came out of the pits on my wing for 4th place. He pretty much stayed there until we reached the checkers. I didn’t have anything for the leaders, but had my mirrors filled all night. It was fun, clean racing by all out there tonight. Welcome to our three new drivers and kudos to Paul for letting John and me settle it on the track. The TeamDraft Batmobile team will take the clean run and the 4th place finish. We worked hard for it!”
Vincent, Beard, Turner, Daul, Weiss, Feldman, and Kabela all earned bonus points for completing the race without incident.
Vincent returned to the overall lead in the championship race. Turner is eight points back in second place. Daul, Koscielniak, and Sutcliff round out the top five spots.
Class B results
Hesla led all but one lap as he cruised to victory in the Corvette race. His fast lap time of 1:45.88 was nearly 2 seconds faster than the next fastest Corvette. It was his sixth win in eight RSR starts. Griffen crossed the line in 2nd place. Duffey earned a podium spot in his first RSR race by edging out Thomas to capture third place.
Hesla was the only Corvette driver to complete the race without an incident.
Griffen has a twenty-five point lead over Thomas in the overall championship race after ten events. Rhyne , Hesla, and Hardin round out the top-5 positions.
RSR members take a week off before heading to Australia for the “Victorian 30 at Phillip Island” at the Phillip Island road course on 11/29/12.
Results / Standings / Video coverage
League Standings: http://rsr.ileaguerace.com/champ/show_champ/Red-Sox-Racing-League/355
League Video Site: http://www.youtube.com/user/draftin11
Other action from the race