Christine Marie Tillmann is a perfect 2-0 in her first two weeks with the Red Sox Racing League. A late comer to the league’s 2011 F1 Season Three lineup, Tillman doubled up with her second win in a row at the “Elkhart Lake F1 GP at Road America”. The tenth race of the season was held at the fourteen turn, 4.08 mile road course in Elkhart, Wisconsin.
Fifteen drivers made the trip to Road America in the hopes of improving their positions in the overall championship. Brad Vincent looked like the driver to beat during pre-race practice and qualifying. His qualifying effort of 1:37.007 was a full half second faster than his nearest competitor. Christine secured 2nd place on the grid with a lap time of 1:37.612. Tillmann and Vincent were the only drivers able to post sub-1:38 laps.
Grid positions three through five were filled by Corey A. Wolf (1:38.662), Andrea Ventura (1:38.701), and John Koscielniak (1:38.744). Brian Irby (6th), Les Turner (7th), Jim Albertson (8th), Terry Daul (9th), Ed Sutcliff (10th), Jeff Thomas (11th), Divina Galica (12th), Andrew Feldman (13th), Bill Pawluckie (14th), and William Kabela (15th) completed the starting grid.
Things took a scary turn when the green flag dropped. Koscielniak spun his tires and started a chain of events which eventually collected six drivers. Turner was the first victim of the incident when he rear ended Koscielniak hard after he bounced off of the inside wall, and then he was along for the ride as his car was flung across the track into the path of Albertson. Jim was able to drive away from the pileup, but Les was forced to pit for repairs before ever crossing the start/finish line.
Thomas ended up running into the rear of Daul’s car as Daul slowed to avoid the stopped traffic. While Turner’s car sat sideways on the track, Koscielniak, Thomas, and Daul came to stop along the wall separating the track from pit road. Feldman spun out trying to avoid the roadblock. The rest of the field was forced to drive around the mess as they began lap one almost 20 seconds behind the lead pack.
Pawluckie survived the start, but then lost control coming out of the Kink. His out of control car almost collected Albertson as he sped past through Kettle Bottoms. Pawluckie continued racing after a quick pit stop for repairs, but his night ended on Lap Eleven when he overshot Canada Corner trying to make room for Koscielniak, and then hit the wall trying to get back up to speed.
Wolf had made the same mistake at Canada Corner on Lap Four. His car was not badly damaged in the incident, but Wolf retired from the race and was scored as the last place finisher in the event.
Albertson was forced to pit early when his crew realized the car had been damaged badly enough from the first lap contact with Turner to allow Sutcliff to keep pace with them. Albertson sensed the car had been slightly damaged, but seeing Sutcliff in his rear view mirror gave the elderly league member all the information he needed to comply with team orders to pit. “Ed isn’t anywhere near as fast as us on these road courses, so I knew something was terribly wrong”, said Jim after the race. Albertson completed a flawless pit stop, but made a crucial mental mistake when he spun on the exit of corner 13A on his out lap. He would go on to climb back into the top five before the race ended.
Pawluckie was off pace and trying to limp back to the pits after the incident on Lap Twelve when Turner approached him in turns 13-13A. Turner was forced to go off track to avoid hitting the slower car, but he managed to avoid disaster by maintaining control of his car and safely steering it back onto the track. The incident cost Turner almost 15 seconds to the competition and ruined his chances of climbing back into contention after the Lap One incident on the start.
Galica, Feldman, and Sutcliff enjoyed a fierce battle throughout the race which was only clinched when Feldman made an unforced error and spun his car on the exit of Turn Three on Lap Fourteen. The mistake gave Sutcliff breathing room for 6th position, and allowed Galica to sneak past for 7th. Feldman would eventually go on to finish in 8th place.
Daul and Thomas swapped positions late in the race when they both made mental mistakes on Lap Sixteen. Daul was the first to blink when he gave up 11th place after going into the grass in Carousel and spinning. Thomas gave the position back four corners later by missing the entry to Canada Corner.
Vincent and Tillman were the class of the field and the only drivers to lead laps in the race. Vincent held the top spot for the first two laps, but eventually gave way to Tillman. She held onto the lead and crossed the line two seconds ahead of Vincent.
Tillman posted the fastest lap average over the course of the event, averaging an impressive 1:40.901 per lap. “I did not have much time to practice at Road America this week and had little time to get used to the setup and the track. My qualifying run didn’t go the way we’d hoped and I never got within a second of my optimal lap time. I went into the race with many apprehensions, and hoping I could do the full race distance without crashing. I want to thank Andrea for holding off Brad for a few laps after his incident on Lap Three. That gave me enough of a cushion to concentrate on keeping the wheels on the pavement! Brad started to appear in my rear view mirror around the time of our pit window, but I had a flawless stop and gained about 4 seconds on him. The situation in the last few laps made for a very close and exciting finish for the fans! It shows once again that very small mistakes can cost someone the race, so I was very happy I could manage to do an error-free run.”
Vincent posted the fast lap during the race with a time of 1:37.785. “I had an awesome qualifying time and was looking forward to the race. The start went well, but I spun it on Lap Three and got stuck behind Andrea for a number of laps. I finally got a good run on him and made the pass in Turn Three, then had to push hard to catch up to Christine. I entered the pits 0.8s behind Christine and was really excited. We ended up taking too much fuel and gave her a four second lead with six laps to go. I pushed about 90% and was only slightly catching her, so I decided to settle for 2nd and get the points I needed. Congrats to Christine for her mistake-free race and very fast pace. Also congrats to Andrea for keeping me honest, it was quite a battle. Ventura crossed the line in 3rd place.
Irby finished in 4th place. “This was an eventful day from the start with a rough course and competitors that had it tamed. The “Bandit” car was good all race long but due to a poor qualifying performance we started mid pack. This proved to be too much to work through as the laps started clicking off in the rather short race. The car would run very consistent 1:38’s but during the first half of the race it was limited to mid to high 1:40’s due to the traffic and course negotiations. We pitted on Lap Eleven to make for a light fuel load but the driver was having a hard time calculating the fuel mileage and the crew chief acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. This made for a rather lengthy pit stop and brought us out almost 18 seconds behind the leader. We started in 6th and finished 4th so overall a good day for the 02 “Bandit” machine. Congrats to Christine Marie with an impressive win, two for two is not bad at all!”
Albertson recovered from the early race damage and spin to secure 5th place. “The POW/MIA Williams just didn’t have the speed for this track”, said Jim after the race. “We got too much damage at the start of the race to be competitive, so I had to pit early and let the team make repairs. They did a good job because Ed never got close to us once I came back onto the track. I’m happy with the 5th place finish. Congrats to Christine for her 2nd win in a row.”
6th place went to Sutcliff. Galica (7th), Feldman (8th), and Turner (9th), were the last drivers to cross the line on the lead lap.
Kabela (10th), Daul (11th), and Thomas (12th), were scored one lap down.
Early exits by Pawluckie (13th), Koscielniak (14th), and Wolf (15th) completed the scoring.
Ventura and Sutcliff were the only drivers to complete the race without incident.
RSR drivers travel to Japan next week for the “Casio Triangle F1 GP at Suzuka” at Suzuka Circuit.
Vincent continues to lead the overall standings after ten events. He has a 129 point lead over Turner. Albertson is in 3rd place, 238 points out of the lead spot. Koscielniak and Thomas rounded out the top-5 spots.
TeamDraft leads the team competition with a 224 point margin over Storm-Front Racing.
Grand Prix Series Overall Standings after Race 10:
RASCARR Series Overall Standings after Race 10:
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