ROK Sonoma Round 3 Race Report
We had a great weekend at Round 3 of ROK Sonoma. Decent weather, not crazy wind but a very dusty dirt parking lot that will have me cleaning the truck, trailer and gear for the next couple days. : (
We had the usual highs and lows over the weekend.
In Pro Shifter, we had Colin McGrath and Michael Avansino lined up.
Qualifying saw Michael stick his Croc Promotion on pole by a whooping .37 seconds over P2 Aiden O’Neil and P3 Brian Keck. Both O’Neil and Keck are extremely fast KZ drivers, so this was huge to be that much faster than both.
Colin McGrath, driving his Croc Promotion Shifter lined up 5th and only .9 off pole. That is a big gain in track speed from Colin. All of his off-season testing work is really starting to show! Way to go Colin.
OK, so while quali is all about track speed, racing is about tactics, nerves, bravery, nerves and of course luck. As I say, the fastest driver doesn’t always win the race.
In the heats, Michael took off and left…as in checked out… goodbye!...in BOTH heat races. So a great dominant performance form the new-to-shifter class driver.
Colin did a great job of staying close to the lead pack finishing 5th in the first heat and 4th in the second heat, again remaining 1 second per lap or less off the leader Avansino. Again, great job Colin!
In the main event, Michael decided to give everyone else a chance, since he was clearly the fastest driver on the shifter grid that day. So he boffed the start…as in rolled away slowly in last place. OK then, the work now begins to catch back up. While Michael was realizing he would not have made it as a professional drag racer, Colin was battling with Tazio and having another great performance on track. I really hope to see Colin fighting up front in the very near future. With the hard work and dedication he is showing, his time getting to the front of the grid is getting smaller and smaller with each passing race.
And Michael…Michael charged forward, made some great headway in the first ½ of the heat getting up to P-2, but then a couple shifting problems found him back to 3rd before finally passing Aiden to reach a solid P2. Once securely in front of Aiden, Michael Pulled away and set fast laps, but with less than 5 laps to go and Keck out in a huge lead, there was just not enough time for Michael to reach the front. So while Michael finised P-2, it was disappointing since he was clearly the fastest driver on the shifter grid.
In 100cc Senior we had Torsten Olsen and Max Schmidt, both Kartspeed drivers but with Torsten racing the Croc Promotion and Max on the Kart Republic. Max has worked very, very hard over the winter putting testing as his priority. Wow! Does testing make a difference? OH YES!! So while many other kart racers were using the winter to, I don’t know, do other time wasting things, Max was out (with Colin several times) running laps until his arms fell off. Did it translate into speed? YES!
Max went from the back of the Senior 100cc field last year (his first racing season in karts) to qualifying P6 out of 18 drivers…. only .4 off the pole sitter, Stephen Eisert, who has been karting since he learned to walk. So nice job Max!
But as I said, track speed is not the same as racing. Shi-%$!-t happens when you race and Max got to be a part of that. With some serious battling Max finished the first heat in P-9 and the second heat in P-15. So in the main, the goal for Max was to keep it clean and move forward. Unfortunately, another driver decided to end any forward movement for Max resulting in ending Max’s race eon Lap 4. The good news is Max realizes how important the chassis is to track speed, so he just bought a brand new 2023 KR and will put an end to his year old relationship with the old race kart.
Torsten has a very busy school and family schedule which limits his ability to test much between race weekends. So based on his very limited testing time, he did a great job in a very serious and competitive 100cc Senior Class. Qualifying 15th in his first dry 100cc 2023 race, he knew the day would most likely be long and hard. The 100cc drivers fight for position regardless of which spot. Fighting for P-18 is just as brutal as for P-1! The heat races resulted in a P-15 and a P17 with Torsten basically maintaining his qualifying pace and thus track position. For the main, Torsten worked his way up to 12th or 13th before the chain decided to part company with the gears, resulting in finishing P-15, so back where he qualified.