STC Turns On The Lights At Sebring
- Friday, 20 May 2011
- Written by Ryan Cornes
As darkness fell over Sebring International raceway, ISRA introduces its newest league. The Street Touring Challenge. Not only was this the inaugural race for the STC but also the first night race to be run under the ISRA banner.
23 drivers, representing 10 Mustangs and 13 MX5’s, took the call for qualifying. It was Russell Kao taking a strong pole position in the Mustang class. With a margin of .4s over Mitchell Weirich in second and closely followed by Jonathan Diclemente in third. As always qualifying in the Mustang class is tight with a tiny blanket of a mere .13s covering second through fifth.
At the start Kao struggled off the line and almost the entire Mustang field streamed past before turn one. Mid-corner Kao lost traction and spun, just nudging the inside wall. It wasn’t long before Weirich found himself in the lead as Parrish and Diclemente battled for second. An issue on lap four allowed Parrish through as Diclemente pitted. Parrish quickly reeled in Weirich who pitted on lap 11 allowing Parrish to lead until lap 14 when he too pitted. After the stops Weirich lead Parrish who chased hard as the leaders encountered traffic late in the race showing his nose more than once in an attempt to pass. However a terrific battle was decided as Weirich was forced to pit two laps shy of the finish. In the end it was Kevin Parrish coming through for victory after starting forth. Jonathan Diclemente took second, and Russell Kao stormed home in third to take a well deserved podium after an early mistake.
In the MX5 class it was Jason Gordon taking a commanding pole, a clear 1.7s faster than his nearest competitor Jerry Knitter in second. Mike Kelley was hot on his heels in third. Off the start it was Jason Gordon setting sail to take a commanding victory, leading every lap. However, over the first half a dozen laps it was Mike Kelley and Ryan Cornes putting on a heated battle for second position. Cornes finally inched by heading towards the back stretch. Immediately Kelley went for the pits as Cornes stayed out, trying to catch Gordon and build a gap to the drivers behind. After the pit stops settled out Gordon lead Kelley by a healthy margin as Cornes tried desperately to catch Kelley for second. It all came unglued for Cornes as three laps from the end he ran wide out of Turn One and slewed into the inside wall badly damaging his car and allowing Knitter through to capture an excellent third and Chuck Johnson through to capture forth.
After an extremely exciting opening round for the Street Touring Championship, the intensity is sure to ratchet up as the cars are packed up headed for the sunshine of Summit Point Raceway.Last Updated on Friday, 20 May 2011 12:52