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Jun 02

Hulse streak ends as Guasch returns to claim two wins

Weaver and Tabak win one race each in Standard FM class 

This past weekend sixteen Molecule Formula Mazda Challenge competitors travelled to Thunderhill Raceway Park to compete on the unique Llihrednuht configuration. 

Running the track in the clockwise direction is pretty rare, and many of the competitors had never driven this configuration.

“We were able to get the competitors ninety minutes of testing with TrackMasters on Friday,” mentioned Ben Hettema series official.

“That really helped, but the Pro FM drivers who spent additional time this season testing on this track layout were the ones who eventually ended up on the podium.”

On Saturday Michael Guasch took the top slot in PFM qualifying with a blazing 1:41.316. Stan Kohls would start right next to him with a fast time of 143:960, and series points leader Chuck Hulse rounded out the top three with a 1:44.801.

In Standard FM, series points leader Bill Weaver took the top spot with a 1:48.701, followed by Shawn Westerhoff with a 1:51.196 and Derry O’Donovan with a 1:51.808.

Saturday’s race got off to a clean start, but early in the race Stan Kohls overshot a corner and went off into the dirt. When Kohls went off he was towards the front of the field, so everyone that was close needed to check up and suddenly there was a mass of cars together fighting over the same real estate.

Michael Guasch, who was ahead of the melee, led from wire to wire and lapped nine of the sixteen competitors before taking the PFM win. Bill Weaver took the top spot in the SFM class.

SATURDAY PRO FM PODIUM

Chuck Hulse  –   Michael Guasch  – Andy Brown

SATURDAY STANDARD FM PODIUM:

Bill Weaver
Shawn Westerhoff
Derry O’Donovan

Early Sunday morning the drivers were back at it and Guasch qualified on pole again. This time Chuck Hulse was less than a half second behind Guasch having picked up over two seconds from his Saturday qualifying time. Paul Lahaye rounded out the top three in the Pro FM class and also improved his best time by over two seconds.

Lahaye was working with Standing Start coach Ron White this weekend. “Having Ron coaching me at a track I have never been to was extremely helpful.

Ron is not only a great driver, but he is really good at explaining what I needed to change to improve my performance. I essentially did what he suggested and I picked up a ton of time in qualifying.”

Derry O’Donovan took the top qualifying position in the Standard FM class, followed by Westerhoff, and Bruce Carpenter. “This course is fun and very challenging,” noted O’Donovan. “There are blind rises, off camber corners, and some very fast sections.”

In the race Guasch once again rocketed out ahead of the pack and led wire to wire. In the Standard FM class the lead changed every couple of laps between O’Donovan, Tabak, and Westerhoff. On lap eleven a suspension failure took O’Donovan out of the running and Westerhoff led a majority of the remaining laps.

In the closing laps Tabak put the pressure on and Westerhoff went off course which gave Tabak the lead at the checkered flag. Westerhoff was able to retain second position, and Bruce Carpenter rounded out the Standard FM podium.

SUNDAY PRO FM PODIUM:

Michael Guasch
Chuck Hulse
Stan Kohls

SUNDAY STANDARD FM PODIUM:

Stew Tabak
Shawn Westerhoff
Bruce Carpenter

The 2009 season is about half over and Chuck Hulse is leading the Pro Formula Mazda class with 326 points, while Derry O’Donovan leads the Standard FM class with 227. The next Pro Formula class races will be June 28-29 at Infineon Raceway, while the next Standard FM races will be at Mazda Raceway June 19-21.

The Molecule Formula Mazda Challenge is a regional Star Mazda series that keeps costs in check by limiting travel to a general region and racing spec open wheel cars. There are three classes that are welcome to compete in the events; The Pro Formula Mazda, the Standard Formula Mazda, and the Formula E powered by Mazda.

The MOLECULE Formula Mazda Challenge forges into its fifth consecutive season as an officially sanctioned NASA race group. The year end cash awards have grown to over $18,000 for the season with the addition of support from MAZDASPEED.

Returning series partners include Star Race Cars, Goodyear, and title sponsor Molecule Labs.

source: Eric McCombs