The Red Sox Racing League’s 2012 Season Three schedule wrapped up in Belgium this week at the Circuit Zolder Grand Prix road course. 17 drivers participated in the “Season III Finale.” A narrow 2.49 mile layout, Circuit Zolder features ten challenging corners including 3 chicanes and a hairpin corner. The historic track has hosted the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix ten times. It also hosts events for the Champ Car World Series and the FIA GT Championship. Its design includes bone jarring rumble strips and tight corners requiring 100% concentration. Illustrating the point, none of the seventeen drivers who completed the race were able to do so without collecting an incident point.
Brad Vincent (Class A) and Paul Hesla (Class B) entered the final week as the overall points leaders in their respective classes, but neither could afford to coast through the race because Les Turner and Dennis Griffen were ready for any chance to seize the top championship spots. However Vincent and Hesla succeeded in holding off the competition through the qualifying session by grabbing the pole positions in their classes.
Vincent earned his tenth pole of the season, posting a lap time of 1:19.665 to outpace Troy Harder’s lap of 1:19.726. Les Turner (1:20.419) and John Koscielniak (1:20.835) started in row two. Terry Daul (1:21.596) and Ed Sutcliff (1:21.605) started in row three. David Weiss, Andy Feldman, Terry Schmidt, and Divina Galica completed the HPD starting grid in a busy qualifying session.
Hesla earned his eighth pole of the season, posting a lap time of 1:26.306. Ricky Hardin secured the outside of row one with a lap time of 1:27.119. Dennis Griffen (1:27.916) and Tony Duffey (1:27.955) started in row two. Jeff Thomas (1:28.443) and Scott Husted (1:29.060) started in row three. Dean Ayer completed the Corvette starting grid.
The race began in typical RSR fashion, with drivers giving plenty of room and adjusting to the rhythm of the traffic before risking passes on the narrow track. Despite the number of incidents recorded during the event, most involved minor off-track penalties from drivers’ cutting tight corners too sharply as opposed to serious accidents.
Schmidt had an early scare when he went wide and into the dirt while exiting T4 on lap four. He escaped the incident without loss of position, but wasn’t as fortunate when he spun and hit the inside wall exiting T8 also known as the Bolderberg hairpin on lap seven. Schmidt gave Feldman a scare when he pulled over exiting T7. Feldman was also slowing to let a faster Troy Harder by but was taken by surprise when Schmidt applied his brake. Harder cruised by the hapless pair as they accumulated 4 incident points for car contact before they continued without any damage to their cars.
The rest of the race was relatively uneventful as the slower paced Corvettes did a good job letting the faster HPD cars by them throughout the event. The lone exception was when Hardin and Daul tangled on lap fifteen after Hardin slowed to allow Daul through as they approached T5. Making the pass from the inside line, Daul took too much speed into the 90 degree corner and had to back off the gas to stay on track and make the corner exit. Hardin accelerated through the normal line of the corner and passed Daul as he regrouped. Their cars touched lightly as they exited the corner. Neither car was damaged and both drivers continued without loss of positions in their classes.
Class A race results
Driving in a manner exemplary of his record at RSR, Vincent led every lap of the race and crossed the line with an impressive 43 second lead over the second place HPD. The win was his ninth of the season and ensured Vincent’s repeat as the Class A Season Champion. Koscielniak finished the race in 2nd place. It was his 11th top-5 finish in as many starts.
Turner crossed the line in 3rd place. His string of podium finishes was enough to keep the past league champion within striking distance of Vincent throughout the season, but he ended the season six points behind in the final season standings.
Sutcliff equaled his highest finish of the season when he crossed the line in 4th place. Daul (5th) and Harder (6th) finished together as Harder ran out of fuel and lost four positions on the last lap. Weiss (7th), Feldman (8th), and Galica (9th) finished the race one lap down to the leaders. Schmidt (10th) was scored two laps down.
Final Season Class A Statistics
Seventeen HPD drivers participated in at least one race during Season Three. Points were collected during all twelve events, but only the top nine scoring events counted towards a driver’s total for the championship race. Vincent captured the overall championship by posting nine wins in eleven starts. He won the pole in ten of those events. Turner won one race and two poles on his way to a 2nd place finish in the final standings. Harder, with two victories, was the only other HPD driver to win a race in Season Three. He joined the league too late to complete enough races to contend for the overall championship.
Koscielniak completed the season in 3rd place on the strength of eleven top-5 finishes. Daul (4th), Sutcliff (5th), Feldman (6th), Kabela (7th), Weiss (8th), Galica (9th), and Kyle (10th) rounded out the top ten positions.
Feldman, Sutcliff, and Turner were the only HPD drivers to compete in all twelve races in the Season Three schedule. Sutcliff earned the “Ironman” award for completing the most miles (753.165). Turner and Koscielniak tied for the most top-5 finishes with eleven each. Kabela was once again the cleanest driver in the league. He started eleven races and only collected six incidents for a 0.5 Incident per race average. Kabela earned the most bonus points (9) for completing races without incident.
Class B race results
Hesla led the early laps, then relinquished the lead to Griffen when he pitted on lap twelve. Griffen remained out front for five laps. Hardin started in 2nd place, but dropped to last place when he short pitted on lap nine. His strategy paid off as the time gained without traffic on pit lane allowed him to overtake Griffen for P2 when Griffen gave up the lead and pitted on lap seventeen.
Hesla stayed out of trouble in the closing laps and cruised to his seventh victory of the season. Hardin (2nd) and Griffen (3rd) joined him on the podium. Duffey (4th), Husted (5th), and Thomas (6th) all finished on the same lap as the leaders. Ayer (7th) was one lap down when he finished the race.
Final Season Class A Statistics
Fifteen Corvette drivers participated in Season Three, but only four managed to complete at least nine events. Over half the field completed four or fewer races.
Hesla won seven races and eight poles in the ten events he entered. He finished the season with a four point lead over Griffen. Tommy Rhyne, Dennis Griffen, and Jason Brown also won races in Season Three.
Griffen won almost every other category in the Corvette field as he was the most consistent driver in the field. He started all twelve races, had the most top-5 finishes (12), drove the most miles (714.601) to win the “Ironman” award, and tied with Thomas for the most top-10 finishes (12). If that wasn’t enough, he was also the cleanest Corvette driver, finishing with the fewest number of incidents (10) of the drivers who completed at least nine races. He tied Rhyne for the most bonus points earned (5), and tied Thomas for the most starts (12).
Thomas’ eight top-5 finishes allowed him to end Season Three in third place overall. Hardin (4th), Rhyne (5th), Husted (6th), Corey A. Wolf (7th), Brown (8th), Dean Moll (9th), and James Prostell, Jr (10th), rounded out the top-10 positions in the final standings.
RSR members take a break before resuming racing action in January of 2013.
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