As the 2010 Redline Time Attack season winds down, our second to last event is now in the books. The event was held at the famous Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point) in the heart of wine country, Sonoma, CA. While the normal talk in the region is about Cabernet, Merlot, and fine dining, the hot topic around the Infineon Raceway paddock was rain. Yes, there was rain, and lots of it. It rained virtually non-stop this weekend and teams were struggling to learn how to go fast in it.
Rain does very funny things to race results. Front wheel drive becomes fast, all-wheel drive becomes even faster, and rear wheel drive guys are left chasing their tails, literally. Huge power becomes a disadvantage, and so do skinnier tires and softer suspension. Teams either learn to adapt or find themselves at the back of the pack and this event was no different. Teams dealt with heavy rain through the first part of the competition day but a break in the rain made the track gradually faster as competitors got into their second and final time attacks.
There was a lot of anticipation coming into this event, but something many of us have been anticipating all year long finally came to fruition today and answered the question that has been floating around since the season opener in March; who is the G-Stig? Yes ladies and gentlemen, the mysterious dark visored driver of the GST Motorsports Subaru Impreza finally revealed himself at the awards ceremony and the G-Stig is none other than Jeff Westphal.
Westphal, the 2008 Pacific F2000 Champion, has raced everything from the Jim Russell Formula Series to GrandAm ROLEX GT and now he can publicly add Redline Time Attack Champion to that resume as well.
Westphal and GST Motorsports were one of the favorites in the Super Modified class coming into the race as Infineon is their home track, however they had one big hurtle to clear in the form of the ACS SPEED World Challenge Ford Mustang driven by Brandon Davis. The ACS team reportedly removed 300 lbs. from their race car as well as removing the restrictor plate that SPEED World Challenge mandates to make over 750whp. Many thought that the SPEED World Challenge car would dominate the entire field, however Westphal had something to say about it, and he said it loud and clear.
Westphal piloted the GST Motorsports Impreza L to a blistering 1:56.952 on a soaking wet track, a full 20 seconds faster than anyone else taking the overall event win, overall Super Modified class win, and the Super Modified AWD class win. Brandon Davis in the ACS SPEED World Challenge Mustang did land himself on the top of the Super Modified RWD podium however with the second fastest time of the day at a 2:16.555. Andrie Hartanto took 2nd in Super Modified RWD in the N1 Concepts Honda S2000 with a 2:39.764. Jason Saini ran un-opposed in the Super Modified FWD class in the Tri-Point Engineering Mazdaspeed3 with a 2:34.785.
The Modified Class was yet again stacked with regulars from COBB Tuning, AFI Turbo, AE Performance, and local boys LIC Motorsports. Brian Lock struggled all weekend in the rain with the heavy COBB Tuning R35 GTR but pulled it together when it counted to take the overall Modified and Modified AWD class wins with a 2:16.827. WORKS Motorsports used to race in the Redline Time Attack series back in 2006 and they returned at this event with a number of cars including the Mitsubishi Evo X that Lars Wolfe piloted to a 2:19.338 for 2nd place in the Modified AWD class. James Elterman in the Takata Time Attack / LIC Motorsports Subaru STI rounded out the Modified AWD podium in 3rd with a 2:34.092.
Carl Rydquist in the AE Performance/City Tire/Hankook Nissan 350Z has been a dominant force this year in the Modified RWD class, but he was de-throned at this event by Jeremy Renshaw in the AFI Turbo Honda S2000 who came back from a blown motor at the last round to take the Modified RWD class win with a 2:22.887. Rydquist came in 2nd with a 2:23.881, while Nicholas Cahill in came in 3rd with a 2:28.350 in his Mazda Miata. Ghram and Liam Downey battled back and forth all weekend long in nearly identical Red Stone Honda Civics for the top spot on the Modified FWD podium, but at the end of the day it was Graham who would take top honors with a 2:35.734 over Liam who took 2nd with a 2:37.130.
The Street Tire Class showed fairly low attendance from what we are accustomed too on the West Coast, but that didn’t stop the action. All weekend long Clint Boisdeau in the ABF Motoring MINI Cooper S was looking like the man to beat in the wet but Sean Mackenzie pulled together a 2:17.356 lap toward the end of the day to claim the overall Street Tire, and Street Tire AWD class titles in his Mitsubishi Evo IX. Mike Butler came in a distant 2nd with a 2:33.358 and Cameron Benner rounded out the Street Tire AWD podium in 3rd after battling intake issues with a 2:44.429 in the COBB Tuning Subaru STI.
Mike Bonanni found himself on the top step of the Street Tire RWD podium for the second event in a row, but this time it was not in the Berk Technology BMW 135i that he has piloted all season long. Unfortunately the Berk Technology 135i suffered electrical issues and couldn’t make the event so Bonanni drove his personal, bone stock Nissan 370Z to a Street Tire RWD class win with a 2:26.548 which proved that rain is the great equalizer between stock and modified cars. Ethan Boyles came in 2nd in Street Tire RWD with a 2:39.048 in his Honda S2000 while Dave Lemon piloted his new turbocharged Mazdatrix Mazda RX-8 to a 3rd place finish and a 2:39.724 lap.
Clint Boisdeau once again took 1st place in the Street Tire FWD class leaving him with just one more event to win for a perfect season. Boisdeau piloted the ABF Motoring MINI Cooper S to a blistering 2:19.094 ahead of the ENA Motorsports Acura Integra driven by Eric Emmerson with a 2:22.434 for 2nd. Kaimana Holokahi rounded out the Street Tire FWD podium in 3rd with a 2:31.276.
Michele Abbate was also looking un-stoppable in her ABF Motoring MINI Cooper S during Enthusiast Class practice, but Yang “The Animal” Tang pulled a flying lap out when it counted in his Mitsubishi Evo IX taking the Overall Enthusiast and Enthusiast AWD class wins with a 2:18.940. Tang ran un-opposed in the Enthusiast AWD class. Paul Dentice is also continuing a dominant season in the Enthusiast RWD class proving that wet or dry, he is un-stoppable. Dentice drove his AE Performance Nissan 370Z to a 2:21.904 for the Enthusiast RWD win over 13 seconds ahead of Kazuyuki Saegusa who came in 2nd with a 2:35.667. Charles Boyles rounded out the Enthusiast RWD podium in his Nissan 350Z Nismo with a 2:36.629 for 3rd.
Michele Abbate may have been denied the overall Enthusiast Class win, but that didn’t stop her from taking the Enthusiast FWD class win with a 2:22.316 in her ABF Motoring MINI Cooper S. The youngest man in time attack, Christopher Billedo drove his Speed Zone Motorsports Honda Civic Si to a 2nd place finish in Enthusiast FWD running a 2:26.939 lap time followed by Palmer Sanderson in 3rd with a 2:29.051.
The Drift Class drivers were without a doubt fun to watch as it was clear that they were pretty comfortable going sideways. It was a close battle in the wet, but Kyle Mohan in the Nexen Tire / Spyder Energy Mazda RX-7 took top honors with a 2:32.815 lap time, just 1.225 seconds ahead of Adam Knapik in his Nissan 240SX.
Everyone in attendance was anxiously awaiting the 5-lap Super Session sprint race at the end of the day. The track was far from dry, but better than it had been during the earlier time attack sessions. Representing the Super Modified Class was Jeff Westphal in the GST Motorsports Subaru Impreza L, Brandon Davis in the ACS SPEED World Challenge Mustang and Dave Brown in the WORKS Mitsubishi Evo X. Representing Modified Class was Brian Lock in the COBB Tuning R35 GTR, Carl Rydquist in the Hankook / City Tire Nissan 350Z, Jeremy Renshaw in the AFI Turbo Honda S2000, and Nick Cahill in his Mazda Miata. Dave Lemon in the Mazdatrix Mazda RX-8 was the sole Street Tire Class representative. AFI Turbo broke a transmission in their last time attack and just barely got the car back together in time for the Super Session, unfortunately they were just a minute too late and had to start the race from the pit lane.
The green flag dropped for the rest of the group and the GST Motorsports Impreza L was off and running putting a huge gap on the rest of the field in just a few turns. With the improved track conditions, everyone was going a good bit faster including the Jeff Westphal in the GST Motorsports Impreza L who shattered his time attack session time with a 1:53.455 lap during the sprint race! After the checkered flag flew, the GST Motorsports Impreza had lapped two cars in just 5 laps to win. Dave Brown in the WORKS Evo X battled with Brandon Davis and Brian Lock for a while before getting past and pulling away from them both taking 2nd place overall and 2nd place for Super Modified. The battle for 3rd was epic between Brian Lock in the COBB Tuning R35 GTR and Brandon Davis in the ACS SPEED World Challenge Mustang and it is incredible that no paint was swapped between them in the wet conditions. Brandon Davis took the 3rd place position over Lock by less than a car length. Another epic battle was brewing for 5th between Carl Rydquist and Jeremy Renshaw. The two were all over each other, but Rydquist was able to hold off Renshaw in the AFI Turbo Honda S2000 to take the position. Nick Cahill and Dave Lemon brought up the rear.
With 9 events now in the books for the 2010 Redline Time Attack season, all we have left is the season finale scheduled for November 12-14th where competitors will return to the high banking and technical infield known as Auto Club Speedway! You will surely not want to miss this event as records will be broken and champions will be crowned!