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MWHC Mid Ohio Race Report


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MWHC Season Opener a Success

Lexington, OH - Sixteen Honda Challenge drivers made their way to the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course for the opening two rounds of the 2007 Midwest Honda Challenge Championship Series presented by P.I.C. Performance on April 21-22. No one could have asked for better weather as sunny skies and temps in the mid 70's were the norm all weekend.

 

Saturday's qualifying session saw four H1 cars take the track, and at the end of the 20 minute session Chris Fries in "The Ugly One" Prelude emerged as the pole sitter, lapping the 2.25 mile track in a best time of 1:40.862, followed by Chase Lin in the Team Honda Research Civic Si with a 1:41.542, Kelsey Smith in his Smith's True Value S2000 with a 1:42.199 and Colin Botha rounded out the H1 field in his CRX Si (still in H4 trim) with a 1:42.741.

 

In H2, two cars hit the track for qualifying, with Scott Lunder capturing the pole in his EG Civic Si HB at a 1:45.926 and followed closely by Mark Stewart in his Integra Type-R with a 1:46.584.

 

H4, featuring the largest car count of the HC classes for this event, saw eight competitors take time in qualifying, with Robert Moser in his CRX Si take the pole with a 1:42.414, closely contested by his son, Joseph Moser, with a 1:42.920. AJ Nealey, an East Coast Honda Challenge regular, made his first ever trip to Mid Ohio from his home in Maryland and was able to time in at a 1:44.046 in his Hondamans.com CRX Si, putting him securely in P3. The battle for P4 was strongly contested by three drivers with Andy Hughes eventually taking the spot in the Team Honda Research Integra LS with a 1:46.168, followed by Eric Waddell in his Civic Si with 1:46.470 and Matt Lang in the Myers Motorsports / Team P.I.C. Racing CRX Si with a 1:46.629. Rounding out the H4 field were Brad Smith in his Smith's True Value Prelude with a 1:47.016 and Matt Filkins in the McB Autosports / MCR77.com CRX Si with a 1:47.323.

 

Thomas Lamb, our lone H5 competitor, timed in at a 1:47.647 in his first gen. CRX Si.

 

As 3:30 in the afternoon rolled around, the MWHC competitors found themselves gridded up on the front straight for the standing start that would begin Round 1 of the 2007 season. In H1, Chase Lin got the jump on Chris Fries into turn 1, but after following in line thru the keyhole turn, Fries put the hammer down in his Prelude to recapture the lead down the backstretch. Smith followed closely behind the front two with Botha glued to his bumper. Fries and Lin would battle it out for the lead for several laps, swapping positions every other corner until on Lap 7 when Lin would go off at the entrance to Turn 11. This off allowed Smith to move up to 2nd and Botha to jump to 3rd, which is how the order remained until the checkers flew. Chris Fries was able to take fast lap of the race with a 1:41.112, a new H1 track record for Mid Ohio’s Pro Course.

 

The H2 start saw Scott Lunder unable to make the race due to a broken valve during qualifying which caused his weekend to end early, leaving Mark Stewart to take the class win uncontested, all the while battling with the other HC cars on track. Stewart was able to set a new H2 track record with a lap of 1:46.699.

 

Meanwhile in H4, Joe Moser got the jump on his dad, Bob, and the two proceeded to check out from there. AJ Nealey settled comfortably into 3rd while the battle was on for 4th as Andy Hughes held the position, constantly being hounded by Matt Lang until Lang spun attempting a pass, thus dropping him to the back of the H4 field. The spin allowed Eric Waddell to move up to 5th place, followed closely by Matt Filkins and Brad Smith. Lang was able to battle back from the spin to get around Smith and close in on Filkins, culminating in both drivers drag racing down the front stretch to the checkered flag, with Filkins edging out Lang at the stripe for the position by less than half of a car length. Bob Moser was able to set a new track record in H4 with a lap of 1:42.855.

 

H5 saw Tom Lamb take the green flag in H5 uncontested, setting a track record during the race with a lap of 1:47.326 and taking the checkered flag right on the heels of his H4 companions.

 

Sunday's qualifying session came and went without incident, with Chris Fries again taking the pole position in H1, followed closely by Kelsey Smith, with Chase Lin and Colin Botha again rounding out the field.

 

In H4, Bob Moser was again able to edge out the pole from his son Joe by less than 2 tenths of a second. AJ Nealey was able to secure 3rd again, with Matt Lang improving to 4th from his 7th place start on Saturday. Eric Waddell timed in 3 tenths behind Lang for 5th, followed by Andy Hughes and Matt Filkins, each separated by only 3 tenths of a second. Jeff George, making his racing debut in Honda Challenge after completing the Competition Licensing School on Friday, was in another Myers Motorsports / Team P.I.C. Racing CRX Si and timed in 7th with a lap of 1:47.161, with Brad Smith rounding out the H4 field.

 

In H2 and H5, Mark Stewart and Tom Lamb again went uncontested for the pole position in their respective class.

 

Sunday's race was Round 2 of the 2007 season for the MWHC competitors and would be marred by two full course caution flags, one on lap 2 and another on lap 4, thus leaving a short five lap shootout to decide the finishing order in all of the HC classes. Chris Fries managed a much better start in Sunday's race in H1, grabbing the lead going into Turn 1 and not relinquishing his grasp on the top spot for the entire race. Chase Lin was able to latch onto Fries' bumper on the start to take 2nd away from Kelsey Smith. Colin Botha was late to grid due to attending to his duties as an instructor and was thus forced to start at the tail end of the HC field. Botha was able to work his way thru the H4 traffic very well, as well as being able to get a good jump on both of the restarts after each of the respective full course cautions, and was able to take the checkered flag right on the bumper of Smith.

 

In H4, the Mosers again got the jump at the start, with Joe again snagging the lead from Bob and then proceeding to walk away from the rest of the H4 field. Bob Moser was running strongly in 2nd until he was forced to pull into pit lane on lap eight with suspension problems on his CRX. He would not return to the race. Moser's exit allowed AJ Nealey to move into 2nd place, followed closely by Matt Lang. Matt Filkins, having jumped from 7th to 5th on the opening lap, now secured the 4th spot, all the while doing battle with Andy Hughes and Eric Waddell. The three would run nose to tail the remainder of the race with the order never changing. Brad Smith was able to run a consistent race and finish within site of the trio battling for 4th while Jeff George was able to overcome an early race off course excursion in Turn 1, which brought out the first full course yellow, to finish all but two laps of his inaugural race. Awesome first race Jeff, it is great to have you as a part of the MWHC community!

 

Mark Stewart and Tom Lamb were able to complete the race without incident in H2 and H5, respectively, with both competing in their own on track battles, usually with some of the H4 racers.

 

Congrats again to all of this weekend's winners, as well as to the new track record holders in their respective classes. The Midwest Honda Challenge returns to the track at Putnam Park Road Course on May 19-20.

 

See you all at the track!

 

Sam Myers

MWHC Series Director

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