2016 Runoffs Update #1

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2016 SCCA Runoffs, Mid Ohio Sports Car Course
CHARLIE POLLET MEMORIAL RACE FOR GTL

Qualifying is underway at Mid Ohio for the 2016 SCCA Runoffs. The weather is just about perfect and sorry to say for the Minis, no rain in sight for this year`s event.

As of this writing (Wednesday a.m.), we have had two of the four qualifying sessions so far. 28 drivers are racing for the top prize, SCCA National Champion. The field has no less than six past National Champion including Joe Huffaker with 9 titles placing him fourth on the all time Champions list in SCCA Runoffs History.

Five Minis are in the GTL race this year; three are front-wheel drive and two are rear-wheel drive. After two qualifying sessions the rear-wheel drive Minis are quickest. No surprise, Huffaker has set the fastest time of the five Minis at 1.36.9, 5th overall.

Ohio resident Joel Hipp in his rear-wheel drive Mini set a personal best time of 1.38.1 in his Seven Powered Mini, 11th overall. Joel says: ``My new Seven powered motor is great, so much smoother and she revs to 9,000 RPM on the straight``. Joel had a big smile when talking about the engine dyno numbers. Straight rod technology is the main reason the times have dropped in the past few years. Three of the Minis this year have this advantage and the remaining two will next season. In Joel`s case, lowering his lap time by two seconds on his home track is a big step forward.

The front wheel drive Minis are led by Chris Kopley at 1.41.4. Next is Andy Nelson in the Seven Sponsored Fortech Mini at 1.43.9. If you have been following the Fortech Mini web site you already know the car suffered a big hit this May and the Toy Box Racing Team has been in full rebuild mode all summer. The lap times will come down, I predict a good run today. Top speed on the SCCA radar gun has the Fortech Mini at 118 MPH, the Huffaker Mini at 119 MPH, so there is reason to suggest that as Andy gets used to the car again, his times will go down. Ted Phenix is next at 1.47 but we all know he will improve over the next two days of qualifying.

The qualifying procedure is that each group gets one 15 minute session each day, on Monday through Thursday. There are only seven green flag laps to get your fastest lap; not much time. You can`t even come in the hot pits to do any adjustments.

The field of GTL cars is very fast. Our 2005 fastest lap with Doug Peterson in the Fortech Mini would have just put us 11th on the grid, and Doug won the GT5 National Championship that year. Wednesday is another perfect weather day so we will see who makes a move!

~Mike Kearney

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