Steven Bradley, Winnipeg, Manitoba (February 8) Winnipeg Sports Car Club’s Birchwood Toyota Fire on Ice racing tour returned to Mazenod Pond for the third installment of the 2015 season this past weekend.
On Saturday, 8 cars took part in a test-and-tune day. As light flurries dusted the pond, participants got an early look at a slightly altered track compared to what they raced on opening weekend. With a few centimeters of snow falling the night before, track preparation staff took advantage while grooming the surface to make the front stretch S-curve a little more aggressive. A near 45 degree angle was put in the middle of the long curve, which made for some exciting battles on race day.
On race day Sunday, 17 cars made up the Studded and Rubber classes – 6 Studded and 11 Rubber. The Studded class lineup took a hit in numbers as Peter and Marlene Jakabek, as well as Bill Langner were in and out of the pits for most of the day with mechanical issues.
After solving his early transmission problems in the first half of the day, Bill Langner set some of the fastest lap times of the day in the Studded class – consistently turning 46 second laps. Jordan Sharples won the opening 2 races by a large margin and was the class’s biggest point collector. Steve Leiding collected a race win, and Bill Langner won the last 3 races.
In race 1, it only took Bill Langner 3 corners to jump from fourth to first as a battle took place between he and Jordan Sharples. That battle came to an end when Langner’s car slowed on the back stretch with what appeared to be transmission problems. Racing continued under yellow flag conditions. On lap 3, Peter Jakabek took a spin in turn 2, which moved him from second to last. On lap 5, Steve Leiding made a charge to the front – getting by Tim Gordienko and Marlene Jakabek to move into second spot. Peter Jakabek eventually took his ill-handling car to the pits on lap 11. On lap 13, Sharples had opened a huge lead – lapping the second place car of Marlene Jakabek. Jakabek also experienced mechanical problems and came to rest near the start/finish line. After 17 laps, Sharples took the race win, just a car length away from lapping the second place car of Leiding. Tim Gordienko finished third.
In race 2, Bill Langner started on the pole, however couldn’t complete a single lap due to mechanical problems. Jordan Sharples took control of the lead – jumping from fourth to first in the opening lap. Peter Jakabek took his car to the pits on lap 6 with continuing mechanical issues. After 15 laps, Sharples took the checkered flag a half lap ahead of second place Steve Leiding and third place Tim Gordienko.
In race 3, Langner surrendered his pole position on the opening lap after having to pit again with transmission problems. Jordan Sharples had an anxious opening lap when his hood flipped up – obstructing his view out the front windshield. Sharples made a quick pit stop and returned to the track a lap down. On lap 4, Sharples got by leader Steve Leiding to get his lap back – which now put him in third spot. After 12 laps of racing, Leiding took the race win ahead of Tim Gordienko in second and half lap ahead of Sharples in third.
In race 4, Sharples used the pole to open a lead on the field early. However, Sharples now had some stiff competition as Bill Langner seemed to have his transmission ailments cured. Langner stole the lead from Sharples on the back stretch on lap 5. On that lap, Steve Leiding completed a pass on Tim Gordienko driving out of turn 3 to move into third position. After 10 laps, Langner earned his first win of the day a straightaway ahead of Sharples in second and Leiding in third.
In race 5, the battle between Langner and Sharples continued on. After racing a few opening laps in very close proximity, Langner outraced Sharples into turn 4 to take over the point. Langner collected the checkers ahead of Sharples in second and Tim Gordienko who made a last corner pass on Leiding for third.
In race 6, Sharples and Langner quickly got by pole sitter Steve Leiding to resume their day-long battle. After 5 laps of close racing, Langner eventually took over the lead exiting turn 4. On lap 7, Tim Gordienko completed a pass on Leiding exiting turn 4 to move into third. After 11 laps, Langner collected his third win in a row – well ahead of Sharples in second and Gordienko in third.
Colin Mckee in the Rubber class was among the day’s fastest cars – turning lap times of 1:05. Vasili Schindle grabbed the checkered flag in the opening race. Mike Demchenko earned a win in race 2. Lee McRae collected wins in race 3 and 6, and Andre Toupin took back-to-back checkers in races 4 and 5 to earn the most class points of the day.
In race 1, it was a bumpy opening lap for the middle of the pack. Andre Toupin, Alex Dixon and Colin Mckee stayed safe leading the field. On lap 6, a three-way battle for the lead was forming which was eventually won by Toupin. On lap 9, Mckee got by Dixon low exiting turn 3 to move into second spot. On lap 11, Toupin caught up to lap traffic – which was drawing Mckee closer to his back bumper. Mckee snuck under Toupin for the lead on lap 12 low in turn 2. Vasili Schindle followed by to move into second. On the last lap, Schindle made his car stick to the outer corner of turn 4 – outracing Mckee to the checkered flag and picking up the win. Mckee finished second ahead of Toupin in third.
In race 2, Mike Demchenko beat Brett Sharples off the front row to grab the early lead. As Demchenko was opening a big lead, a three-car battle for second was taking place as Sharples, Dixon and Toupin exited turn 4 side-by-side. Eventually, Dixon came out of that battle with the second place spot. On lap 9, Vasili Schindle got by Dixon low in turn 3 to take over the spot. After 11 laps, Demchenko earned the win while Alex Dixon battled back on the closing lap to regain second spot over Toupin who passed Schindle for third.
In race 3, Lee McRae beat Brett Sharples off the front row and led early. On lap 2, Alex Dixon completed a pass on Sharples low in turn 3 to move into second. Vasili Schindle continued moving to the front after getting by Sharples on lap 4 to move into third. On lap 8, a yellow flag was displayed after Damon Surzyshyn ended up backwards, stuck in a snowbank at the end of the back stretch straightaway. After 12 laps, McRae earned the win ahead of Dixon in second and Schindle in third.
In race 4, Andre Toupin took advantage of the pole to take the lead. Toupin began running the extreme high line in turn 3 – bouncing off the outer snowbank to keep his speed up in the corner. Toupin was the only driver to run that strategy, and it appeared to be working for him. On lap 3, Colin Mckee had settled into second and Mike Demchenko had just passed Brett Sharples for third. After 12 laps, Toupin’s strategy paid off as he collected his first win of the day ahead of Mckee in second and Demchenko in third.
In race 5, Mike Demchenko quickly jumped from fourth to first in the first corner of the opening lap. On lap 2, Andre Toupin was charging to the front after picking up 4 spots – passing Alex Dixon to move into second. Toupin eventually caught and passed Demchenko for the lead low exiting turn 4. While Toupin was checking out, Vasili Schindle had moved into third place after getting by Dixon in turn 4 on lap 7. After 12 laps, Toupin collected his second win in a row, while Schindle overtook Demchenko on the last lap to finish second.
In race 6, Lee McRae beat Alex Dixon off the front row to take the lead. McRae began checking out after Colin Mckee began working over Dixon in a second place battle. Eventually on lap 9, Mckee completed the pass and began hunting down the leader. As laps wore down, Andre Toupin began applying pressure on Mckee for second. As Mckee and Toupin began trading a bit of paint, McRae was cruising to the finish line, where he collected his second win of the day. Mckee held off Toupin for second ahead of Dixon in fourth.
Winnipeg Sports Car Club resumes their Birchwood Toyota Fire on Ice racing tour this Sunday, February 15 at Murdock Water Ski Pond in Winnipeg. Be sure to check out the great racing this local series has to offer.
For more information on the Winnipeg Sports Car Club, or how to get involved in racing, visit them online at www.wscc.mb.ca
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