SEBRING, Florida (January 13, 2018) – While other series wait until later in the year to get things cranking, the 2018 Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour just couldn’t wait and got going Saturday with the first of two Sebring International Raceway races this weekend at an event hosted by the SCCA’s Central Florida Region.
As usual, Sebring’s 3.7-mile, 17-turn course elicits great performances from drivers. That was evident early in the Prototype 1 class where Darryl Shoff and Bryan Putt did battle in a pair of Elan DP02 racecars. Putt went to the lead early and held the top spot for the first eight laps. However, Shoff was never far behind and took the lead on lap nine. Slowly, Putt faded and Shoff stormed on for the win in his No. 94 RAACE/Comprent car.
“I was running really close to Putt lap after lap,” Shoff said. “We would get next to each other, but I couldn’t make a really good pass. I pushed him hard, he got on the throttle too hard and spun it, and that made the pass easy. It was a really fun race.”
Not to be outdone, the Prototype 2 drivers also put on a great show. In that class it was Lucian Pancea, in a Stohr P2, who tore off to a great lead. For the first half of the race, Pancea looked unbeatable. But something happened along the way and Pancea ended up with some damage to his car, which provided a chance to Sherman Chao in his No. 3 Lee Racing/Hoosier/GDRE/Hawk Stohr WF-1 racecar. With only a couple laps to go, Chao caught and passed Pancea for the win.
“I think the race was Pancea’s to win,” Chao admitted afterwards. “He had the pace, he had a great start, and he had a big gap on me. I couldn’t even see him. But bad luck struck him and rewarded me.”
SCCA open-wheel racers apparently showed up at Sebring this weekend ready to do battle. In Formula Continental, Chuck Moran was showing good pace at the front of the field in his Van Diemen RF09 vehicle. But Robert Allaer, in his No. 52 Martini/Chandon/St. Charles German Wines/Polestar Van Diemen RF 02, closed in on Moran and moved to the lead on lap eight, a position he would not relinquish.
“It was a crazy start. I got pinched … and think every Formula Continental in the field passed me,” Allaer joked after the race. “Chuck Moran is a veteran racer. He’s awesome, he goes really quick, and it was tough to get him. I got lucky. He got held up in traffic, and I got past him.”
Later in the day, the open-wheel excitement continued in both the Formula F and Formula Vee races. Dario Cangialosi and Tyler O'Connor, in Mygale SJ11s, fought up front with David Livingston, in a Spectrum 14H, and Raymond "Joey" Essma, in his No. 31 Mygale F1600, for much of the FF event. Livingston fell away in the last portion of the race, but Essma, Cangialosi and O’Connor drove on while swapping the top spot right to the checkered flag. It was Essma in the end who edged out O’Connor by about .2-second for the win.
In a similar effort, FV drivers Donnie Isley, in an Agitator 016, Mitchell Ferguson, piloting his No. 5 Vorscha GB4, and Charles Hearn, driving a Vortech FV, were neck-and-neck most of the race. Hearn faded and left it to Isley and Ferguson to sort things out for the win. The margin of victory at the checkered flag was only about .03 seconds, and it was Ferguson across the finish line first.
“It was a hard fight from beginning to end,” Ferguson said. “Isley kept me honest through the end. We went side-by-side all the way through Turn 17 to the start/finish line. That’s how competitive the Formula Vee class is.”
Saturday came to a close with an amazing participant party held in the Sebring Legends building where the SCCA community -- volunteers, friends, drivers, crew and family members -- joined together for some good food, good conversation and good times. An added bonus was the fireworks display that was almost as loud as a thundering GT-1 car. But when dawn breaks Sunday, drivers will be back at it on the Sebring circuit. Racing begins at 8:30 a.m. local time from Sebring International Raceway with 14-lap or 35-minute events throughout the day. Follow all the action live at www.scca.com/live.
Below are provisional race results from Saturday’s Hoosier SCCA Super Tour event from Sebring International Raceway with Class: Name, Hometown and Car.
-American Sedan®: Thomas Ellis; Pompano Beach, FL; Ford Mustang
-B-Spec: John Phillips III; Sealy, TX; Honda Fit
-E Production: Kip Van Steenburg; New Smyrna Beach, FL; Porsche 944S2
-F Production: Michael Kamalian; Marietta, GA; Mazda Miata
-H Production: Phillip Ellis; Jacksonville, FL; VW Golf
-Formula 500: Don Napier; Greenwood, IN; Scorpion F500
-Formula Atlantic®: Kaylen Frederick; Potomac, MD; Swift 016
-Formula Continental®: Robert Allaer; Lithia, FL; Van Diemen RF 02
-Formula Enterprise: James Libecco; Solon, OH; Formula Enterprises Mazda
-Formula F: Raymond "Joey" Essma; Browns Summit, NC; Mygale F1600
-Formula Vee®: Mitchell Ferguson; Moore, SC; Vorscha GB4
-GT-1: Ernie Francis Jr., Dania, FL; Ford Mustang
-GT-2: Preston Calvert; Potomac, MD; Chevrolet Corvette
-GT-3: Jeff Dernehl; Woodstock, GA; Mazda RX7
-GT-Lite: Charles Leonard; Palmetto, FL; Nissan 200SX
-Prototype 1: Darryl Shoff; Reading, PA; Elan DP02
-Prototype 2: Sherman Chao; Palm Beach, FL; Stohr WF1
-Spec Miata: Michael Carter; Savannah, GA; Mazda Miata
-Spec Racer Ford 3: Clay Russell; Spartanburg, SC; Spec Racer Ford Gen3
-Super Touring® Lite: Justin Elder; Lakeville, MN; Mazda Miata
-Super Touring® Under: Kevin Koelemeyer; Ft. Myers, FL; Honda Civic
-Touring 1: Mark Boden; Winnetka, IL; BMW M3
-Touring 2: Mark Boden; Winnetka, IL; Porsche 997
-Touring 3: Topher Everett; Bogart, GA; Porsche Boxster
-Touring 4: Gresham Wagner; Williamsburg, VA; Mazda MX-5
Photo: Raymond “Joey” Essma took the FF win Saturday during opening day of Hoosier Super Tour competition at Sebring International Raceway
Photo Credit: Digital Automotive Depictions