2006 S2000 Challenge series… Halfway point
With the events at Willow Springs International Raceway this past weekend, the 2006 S2000 Challenge Series has passed the halfway mark. The series has visited some of the west’s most famous racetracks including Laguna Seca, California Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Willow Springs International Raceway, Spring Mountain Raceway, Buttonwillow Raceway, and Streets of Willow Springs. The competition has been a lot of fun, and we’re very happy to report that there hasn’t been a single significant on-track incident involving an S2000, nor have any S2ks or drivers been seriously hurt. It’s been a great year so far, and we thought this would be a good time to look at the races in the four classes and see how the competition was shaping up.
Stock: The Stock class looked to be a hot one this year and so it started. Friendly trash-talking expert Ray Saeni backed up his verbal bravado with some excellent driving and has built up a substantial sixteen point lead at the midway point. Unfortunately, car problems have sidelined him for several events. Unless he can get his car track-ready in a hurry, his lead may disappear very soon. Nipping at his heels is a strong field of rookies including: ML, dragonheart, blank98, BluesPower, 4xfordbronc, and more… all within striking distance. Mark Tiberi, (dragonheart), has served notice that despite his recent surgery and the necessary rehab time associated with it, he’s still confident that he can avenge his loss in “The Battle of the Big Boys” @ Cal Speedway earlier this year, and take the ’06 Stock championship. Tiberi was overheard saying: “He won the battle, but I’ll win the war!” (When Saeni’s publicist was asked if there was a response, she replied that Ray was “in the garage working on the car,” and “would do his future trash talking on the race course.” Stay tuned…
Modified: With some very strong competitors, the modified class was expected to be the most hotly contested this year. The early goings on haven’t disappointed. The initial race looked like a two man competition with Aaron Chung (nimbus) and Raymond Navarro (Raymund) battling it out for first. Then, last week, Raymund made the startling announcement that he would be upgrading his car mid-season and would complete the year in the Production class. As this gives your author a much better chance at an ’06 podium finish, we wish him well. With Chung missing the last few events, the race has narrowed, and there are a few new wild cards in the mix. Las Vegas moderator Karim Hussein (KrazyKarim) definitely has the skills to contend and enough points to be in contention, but he needs to find the time to attend more events to end up on this year’s podium. Series newcomer kjechel has quickly established himself as a serious contender, and Kurt may have enough time to catch the leaders before the season runs out. Also, perennial Modified contender John McCanless (twohoos) has recently thrown his hat back into the ring. John is definitely the driver to beat in this class, but he may not have enough time left in the ’06 season to catch the leaders. Keep in mind, John made an excellent late season run last year to secure himself a spot on the ’05 podium at the very final event. (knocking your humble author off to spend yet another year as an “also ran”) Rylan (Krazik, driving his street S2k), Tim (StinkyTofu), and Bill (spikej) are all within striking distance. The current points standings show Chung with a narrow four point lead over your humble author, and the rest of the field a little over thirty points behind.
Production: Production has turned out to be the closest race of all in ’06 with only 15 points separating the top six contenders. The current leader, Sri (pantyraider) hasn’t been able to attend many recent events, and has seen his lead shrink to a mere five points over his closest two contenders Erik (cthree) and Kelvin (HunterEZ). It’s been great to see S2ki founder Erik Petersen near the top of the leaderboard again, but his current excursion visiting the racetracks of Canada will take him out of contention for the next few months. The ’05 Novice/Modified champion, Kelvin Yong, has been prepping his car for the second half of the season and promises to be a factor in the ’06 championship. Three time Modified champ Richard Laifatt (rlaifatt; competing in his street car) is alone in third just six points behind the two second place contenders. With and exceptional showing at Streets of Willow Springs in May, William (eautosports) and Walter (point a-b-c) both served notice that they too would have something to say about the ’06 Production championship. With Raymund now thrown into the mix and the possibility of the mega-skilled Rob Walker (maxrev) coming back as well, Production will be one heck of a race to the finish with the championship probably decided on the final day.
Unlimited: Competition in the Unlimited class has been almost non-existant this season. With most of the usual competitors having decided to focus their efforts on Honda Cup, there has been minimal participation in the S2000 Challenge from the race cars. That said, we do have a race, and here’s how it’s shaping up: The guys running 2-3 in Honda Cup behind Derek Stevens’ Screaming Yellow Civic, Krazik and rlaifatt, are 1-2 in Unlimited with Rylan holding a slim three point lead. Last year’s champion, Kyle Schon, a very rare attendee this season, is ten points behind Richard in third.