It all came down to about four inches or 0.003 of a second. That was the difference between first and second place after 50+ miles of racing action during the Red Sox Racing League’s 5th race of the 2012 Season One schedule. Twenty-two drivers participated in the “Kōraku-en 30 at Okayama” in Mimasaka, Okayama Japan, but two of them gave fans the best road course finish in RSR history.
The tightly designed, 2.314 mile, eleven corner course at Okayama promised fans a delightful event, but race organizers couldn’t have predicted the incredible finish RSR drivers produced during the event. The final outcome of the Class A event wasn’t decided until high speed photography confirmed the results posted on the electronic scoreboard.
Chad Peterson earned the win after recovering from a late race mistake to chase down past RSR league champion, Les Turner. The win was even more exciting given the fact it came in Peterson’s second RSR start.
The fastest driver in practice, Peterson earned his first RSR pole with a remarkable lap time of 1:19.207. Andrew Gantman earned 2nd place on the HPD starting grid. He was followed by Turner, Kevin Kyle, Terry Daul, Gary Jorgensen, Andrew Feldman, William Kabela, Bill Pawluckie, and Wilbur Gildersleeve, Jr.
Dustin McGrew led the way in the Class B event by earning his 5th pole in a row. His qualifying lap time of 1:25.027 was a full half second ahead of the 2nd place qualifier, Reed Rundell. Tommy Rhyne, Dean Moll, Scott Husted, John Koscielniak, James Prostell, Jr, Jeff Thomas, Larry Krupp, and Ed Sutcliff completed the field of Corvettes.
After the high incident count in last week’s event, RSR drivers redoubled their efforts to give fans a clean race. The effort paid off as they were able to complete the thirty minute event with only 61 incident points in 394 laps of racing. The incident total and the average incidents per lap (0.154) were the best stats of the season to date.
Gary Jorgensen was the first to contribute to the incident total when he spun exiting Hairpin. Jorgensen escaped without damage, but Feldman was victimized when his car was heavily damaged as he slowed to avoid Jorgensen’s car.
Gildersleeve was the next driver to get fans off their feet when he tapped Rhyne exiting Redman. Gildersleeve survived the incident without damage, but his night of adventures continued as he racked up more incidents as the race continued.
Koscielniak had been slowly reeling Prostell in as the race progressed, but he decided to risk a daring late-corner braking maneuver to make a pass entering Turn One on Lap Nine. His momentum carried Koscielniak into Prostell’s car in the middle of the corner. Both drivers fought hard for the same piece of real estate, but Prostell was eventually forced off track. Thomas gained a spot while Prostell negotiated the sand trap.
Jorgensen’s night of adventures continued when he spun exiting Hobbs on Lap Fifteen. Nobody else was near his car when he slid to a stop along the outside wall, so only his pride was hurt in the incident.
Koscielniak was in perfect position to attack Revolver on Lap Sixteen when he was victimized by a Gantman’s quickly approaching HPD. Apparently unable to see the Corvette’s brake lights, Gantman plowed into the back of Koscielniak with such force that both rear tires of the Corvette were lifted off the ground. Koscielniak somehow kept the car on the track and continued to the pits for his scheduled pit cycle.
Kyle and Rundell both lost valuable track positions with late race spins, but the biggest surprise came when Peterson gave up his lead with a spin exiting Hobbs on Lap Seventeen. His car was still sitting sideways in the grass when Turner sped through the corner several seconds later.
Peterson appeared to have lost the race, but instead of buckling under the pressure, he got back up to speed and slowly began to work his way back to the leader. He caught Turner in the final sector on the last lap. Turner saw Peterson in his rear view mirror, but was helpless to do anything about it as he was forced to slow down for Gildersleeve and Koscielniak in the final corner. The wily league veteran hoped he would have enough of a gap to hold Peterson off coming to the checkers.
The crowd was on its feet to watch the exciting finish as Turner and Peterson broke free of the lapped traffic exiting the last corner. In a classy move which ensured a clean finish for both drivers, but probably cost him the win, Turner left just enough room down the inside for Peterson to keep accelerating as the two cars raced towards the finish line. Peterson was doing 146 mph when he got to the line, and Turner was doing 144 mph. Peterson’s ability to stay in the gas to the end proved to be the difference in the drag race to the checkers.
Class A results:
Peterson earned his first win of the season by edging Turner out by 3/1000th of a second margin of victory in the HPD class. Both drivers led laps during the event, but Peterson was able to take advantage of Turner negotiating traffic exiting the final corner to secure the win.
Turner was disappointed in the outcome, but proud of his clean racing style. “I did not want to give him a lot of room down the inside, but made sure to give him a lane so he wouldn’t run out of pavement coming to the line. I thought I had him until I looked at the scoreboard!”
Gantman crossed the line in 3rd place. He was followed by Daul (4th), Kabela (5th), Pawluckie (6th), Kyle (7th), Gildersleeve (8th) and Jorgensen (9th). Feldman retired on Lap One and was scored in 10th place.
Turner enjoys a four point advantage over Gantman in the HPD championship battle, while Daul, Kabela, and Jorgensen round out the top five positions in the standings.
Class B results:
McGrew continued his domination of the Corvette field by earning his third win of the season. Moll took advantage of mistakes by Rundell and Rhyne to earn 2nd place in the race. His finishing position ensured Moll would remain on top of the C6R championship standings for at least another week.
Rhyne crossed the line in 3rd place. Rundell followed in 4th, while Koscielniak recovered from his mishaps to claim 5th place. Thomas (6th), Prostell (7th), Husted (8th), Krupp (9th), and Sutcliff (10th), completed the scoring in the Corvette class.
Moll holds a slim one point lead over McGrew in the C6R standings, while Rhyne, Thomas and Prostell round out the top-5 positions.
Daul, Kabela, Moll, and Husted earned bonus points for completing the race without incident.
RSR drivers head to Spa-Francorchamps for the “Van Ophen 30 at Circuit de Spa GP” on February 16, 2012.
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