Saturday’s qualifying kicked off with a blazing lap time set by Michael Mihld to claim his first pole position of the season. His lap time was 1.3 seconds faster than the nearest driver. Alan Hauser qualified second with Hubert Young fast on his heels in third. Joining the Spec E30 ranks for his first race was Ed Wagner, who was new to this bunch, but no stranger to automobile racing. Wagner comes to us after competing in the Cadillac Challenge.
With no surprise after his qualifying effort, Mihld got out to a large lead where he found himself all alone for most of the race. Charles Buzzetti and Young battled it out for the second spot for the first third of the race. Young finally broke away from Buzzetti and challenged Mihld for the lead. The toughest battle of the race was between fourth through sixth, where Hauser, 2015 Regional Champion Steve Stepanian and Andrew Clark exchanged spots multiple times throughout the entire race. As the laps wound down, Young caught Mihld. Unfortunately, Young had contact with Mihld in Turn 4, which punted Mihld off track. Mild spun off track, but was able to continue. With time running out, he had lost too much ground to Young. Young got the checkered flag first, but was later DQ’d for contact with Mihld. Buzzetti claimed the top spot for the first race of the season, followed by Mihld in second and Hauser barely edging out Stepanian for the final podium spot.
Mihld could not duplicate Saturday’s blistering lap time and started further back than expected. Young went out on old tires and claimed the third fastest lap of the session. Buzzetti did what he does in his sleep, and while fast, he was not as fast as Stepanian, who claimed his first pole of the season. Notably, Gavin Bristow captured the fourth spot on the grid with his highest starting position since joining SoCal Spec E30. The difference between first and third starting positions was less than .095 seconds!
On Sunday’s rolling start, Stepanian jumped out to an early lead with Buzzetti right on his bumper. Like Saturday’s race, the action was behind the leader. Buzzetti, Young, Mihld, Hauser and Clark ran nose to tail with very few position changes. Stepanian slowly built a lead on the field where he was able to keep lapped traffic between himself and his closest competitor for almost half of the race. Stepanian ended up going from the pole to the top podium spot and claimed his first win of the 2016 season, doing so from the pole. Young captured second with Buzzetti crossing the line just behind in third.