MINERAL WELLS, Texas (April 24, 2012) – The Tire Rack SCCA Pro Solo Series had just a one-week turnaround between the opener in Washington, D.C. and Round Two in Mineral Wells, Texas, but when the dust settled the series had crowned a first-time winner in the Gumout Super Challenge and the youngest event winner of all time in the Ladies Challenge.
Andrew Hahn, of Prosper, Texas, earned his first Gumout Super Challenge victory after qualifying for the elimination rounds as the Street Touring Sport winner and 6th overall seed in the Toyo Tires/Texas Time Trials Honda CRX. Sixteen-year-old Rachel Saunders, from Southlake, Texas, bested Jonathan Clements’ age of 16 years, 10 months by five months to become the youngest Challenge winner in Series’ history when she topped the Ladies’ field in the Janco/Hoosier LeGrand Mk 25 Dragon.
During class competition, Saunders actually turned times faster than her multi-time champion father and co-driver Tommy Saunders in just her second Tire Rack Solo event since moving from the Jr. Class karts to the B Modified machine this year.
Lest Saunders not get the credit she deserves, after qualifying second in the Ladies Class 1, Saunders bested Shelly Monfort (Strano Performance Parts Mazda Miata), last week’s champion, in the opening round and then bettered Beth McClure-Strelnieks (Hoosier/OS Giken/JC AutoSpec Mazda RX-7) in the semi-finals. McClure-Strelnieks is a three-time Solo National Champion and the only driver to top Saunders in qualifying.
Once in the finals, Saunders topped Connie Booker (Carrig Constructors Volkswagen R32) for her title.
Hahn’s win in the Gumout Super Challenge was almost over before it began. The Honda CRX owned and co-driven by David Whitener had significant mechanical issues during Saturday’s runs. Whitener pulled the engine and transaxle from the machine when the gearbox oil seal went bad, oiling down the clutch. After a clutch change and transaxle swap, it was discovered that the gearbox was bad, leaving the option of withdrawing from the event or running the original leaking unit with the hopes they could get through the rest of the event, including Heat Three and the Gumout Super Challenge, before ruining the new clutch.
It turned out to be the correct decision, as Hahn drove through the opening two rounds to face the top qualifier from the biggest class of the weekend, Street Touring R, in Jason Minehart. Minehart, consistent all weekend in the Team Underdog Racing Mazda MX-5, had almost the same index as Hahn. Hahn and the car caught a break when Minehart redlined at the start and left him to advance to the final four.
Hahn bested Matthew Glagola, also from the STR class, and his Honda S2000 in the final to face Erik Strelnieks and the Hoosier/OS Giken/JC AutoSpec Mazda RX-7 in the finals. Strelnieks had beaten Mark Sipe’s Street Touring X-leading Toyo/Cobb Tuning/TrueChoice/KONI Mazda RX-8 to face Hahn in the finals.
Hahn, making his first finals appearance in nine years, earned his first Gumout Super Challenge victory, while Glagola took third in the consolation match-up over Sipe.
Daniel Pyziak, driving a Toyota MR2 Spyder in STR, grabbed the Bonus Challenge victory.
The Texas Region, with the help of local sponsor Vorshlag Motorsports, hosted the weekend at the Mineral Wells Airport, where Jerret Jan designed a course that kept the action close throughout the qualifying runs.
The Tire Rack ProSolo Series returns to action at the El Toro Airfield, May 5-6, for the annual Cal Club Region-hosted event.
More information on the TireRack SCCA ProSolo Series is available at www.scca.com.
Information, including results, from the Mineral Wells ProSolo is available at here.
Follow SCCA on Twitter @SCCAOfficial.
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