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Redline Track Events 2011 Season Opener

Round #1 of the 2011 Redline Track Events season is now in the books! Fans were treated to a full day of racing at The Fastest Road in the West, with action pretty much non-stop from 8:30am until the end of activities around 4:00pm.

The Redline Pro Time Attack competition is split into two separate time attack sessions, with each session formatted like the "Record Assault" sessions in 2010. The field of time attack competitors was split in half to provide for clean and relative traffic-free lapping. Teams would have close to a one hour break between their first and second time attack sessions, providing just enough time to make adjustments and simple repairs.

In the inaugural MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships, Mike Bonanni grabbed pole position in the Tuner Over Class behind the wheel of the Berk Technology BMW 135i. Taking pole position in the Tuner Under Class was Dai Yoshihara in a Spoon Sports right-hand-drive Honda Civic. Unfortunately we saw a few drivers having mechanical difficulties that ended up preventing them from racing. Joon Maeng lost an oil line on Saturday and made an attempt to fix the situation Saturday night in time for the Sunday race. However, Joon was not able to repair his Lucas Oil Nitto Tire Nissan S 13.5 and make it back to the event. MotoIQ founder Mike Kojima's Nissan engine suffered a broken ring land. Had Kojima been able to make the race, it would have been interesting between him and Yoshihara. Both drivers were consistently running lap times within half a second of each other during Saturday practice. Reports from the paddock also had Adam Knapik out of the action from a blown engine as well, after a solid second-place positioning after qualifying.

Mike Bonanni, the 2010 Redline Pro Time Attack Street Tire RWD Champion, was able to go flag to flag for his first victory in the MPTCC. The Berk Technology team was a bit nervous regarding fuel economy, as the car had never run a 30 minute race before. An early caution and several laps under yellow may have conserved enough fuel to allow Bonanni to complete the race.

Dai Yoshihara, competing in his first Redline sanctioned event, who's best known for his successes in the Formula Drift Series, snagged the first ever Tuner Under Class event victory in his Spoon Sports Honda Civic. Dai consistently ran laps in the low 1:37 to mid 1:36 range, allowing him to stretch out a 37 second victory over Annie Sam and her Nissan 200sx. We won't see Yoshihara in Phoenix due to an event conflict with Formula Drift, but we do hope he shows up to Round #3 at Auto Club Speedway!

The highly anticipated Circuit Battles competition got under way directly after the conclusion of the MPTCC race. A total of 8 teams made it out to the first running of this new series. In qualifying, Joey Scarallo in the Group A Wheels Pontiac GTO grabbed P1 with a time of 1:22.744. Gary Sheehan with a guest ride in the Fontana Nissan 350z came in at P2 with a time of 1:23.527. Lou Gigliotti rounded out the top three with a time of 1:24.062.

This set the stage for the 5-lap Super Session seeding race, the results of which would fill the 8 car, double-elimination bracket. Scarallo went flag-to-flag for the victory and the #1 seed. Sheehan was a very close behind after 5 laps (1.5 seconds), good for the 2nd seed. Cort Wagner, behind the wheel of the Fontana Nissan R35 GT-R made his way up into the 3rd seed with a solid driving effort. Lou Gigliotti fell to 4th during the Super Session. Pau Brown in the K&N Motorsports G35 had made it as high as P3 early in the race, however a transmission stuck between gears for 1/2 lap sent him down to P5.

Joey Scarallo in the Group A Wheels Pontiac GTO came home victorious after a re-match Circuit Battle with Gary Sheehan. Sheehan had lost earlier to Scarallo in Winners Bracket Final, sending him down to the Losers Bracket for a battle with Cort Wagner in the Fontana Nissan R35 GT-R. Having dispatched Wagner, Sheehan was faced with the task of needing two victories against Scarallo, and he just couldn't pull it off.

The teams now have just over 4 weeks to prepare for Round #2 at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona. We're looking for everyone to bring something extra to the table at the next event. With Firebird being a considerably different style of track compared to Willow Springs, it will be very interesting to see if a car such as the ABF Tech Division MINI driven by Dez Ballard has a shot at shaking things up. Lou Gigliotti plans to come to Round #2 with "at least" another 100 horsepower. We also expect Andrei Tsaran in the THMotorsports Subaru and Lars Wolfe in the WORKS Motorsports EVO X to be in a position to give the front-runners of the Willow Springs event a run for their money come Firebird.

Be sure to catch all of the action and drama of Circuit Battles airing on VERSUS. The first episode of the season covering the Willow Springs event will broadcast Saturday, March 26th at 2p.m. Eastern.

Images contributed by Official Redline Track Events Photographer: Kyle Lewis.

Article written by Redline Track Events President: Nikolas Malechikos.

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