Twelve Spec E30 teams trekked to Fontana, Calif., for the first points race of the SoCal season, where the new Toyo RRs would be put through their paces for the first time in competition.
After morning warm-up, it was obvious the new Toyo tire works well with the Spec E30. Four drivers were immediately faster than the previous track record right out of the gate.
Steffen Thompson started on pole Saturday, followed by Rius Billing and Allan Hauser. The green flag fell for a perfect start, and the field went three wide entering Turn 1, and didn’t fall into single file until entering Turn 9.
Thompson led from the start and the cars battling behind left him enough leeway to gap the field. Billing and Hauser battled for the remaining podium spots. Although he finished third, Hauser broke his old track record and set a new one at a blazing 02:01.702!
To make Sunday more interesting, we took the results from Saturday’s event and inverted the field for a qualifying race. To add another twist, the field would take a rolling green flag instead of the traditional standing start. Steve Stepanian’s incident with a loose gas cap Saturday meant he was on pole for qualifying, a position he would keep for the weekend’s final race.
As the field came off the last turn to start the race, they formed up at a steady speed until the green flag flew. Again, they ran three wide, through turns 1 and 2, and heading into Turn 3! As the field exited Turn 4, the cars began to settle in. Shortly into the race, Mark Powell lost control in Turn 15 and spun in the middle of the field. Patrick Vogel, who was right behind him, had to make a quick decision. While it looked he made about five decisions, the last one was luckily the right call. Vogel, along with the train of cars behind him, barely missed hitting Powell, who fell back and finished last.
Hauser, who started ninth, worked his way up to battle Matt Thiemann for second at the checkered flag. At the finish, Thiemann held off Hauser for second. Stepanian was able to gap the field enough to secure his first win of the season.
Mitchell Pepper bested Hauser’s new track record by approximately half a second with a 2:01.239! In the end, all of last season’s Spec E30 racers eclipsed the last year’s track record!