Steven Bradley, Winnipeg, MB (January 7) The Winnipeg Sports Car Club (WSCC) dropped the green flag on the 2018 S.A.R. Fire on Ice Racing season this past weekend in Winnipeg. Making the first of 3 stops this season at Murdock Water Ski pond, the frozen pond located at the south-east side of the city will serve as the main track in Winnipeg this year.
12 racers took to the track on opening weekend – 5 of them partaking in Rally Racing where they put their street cars to the test during Saturday’s opening Test and Tune.
On Saturday racers had to deal with wind gusts up to 70km making it feel close to minus 30 degrees. However, on Sunday the weather was perfect – reaching a balmy minus 1 degree as a rare January thaw moved through southern Manitoba.
Greg Eastwood took the checkers in 5 of the 6 races in the Studded division – the first victories for that car. Lee McRae earned a win in the third race of the day. Damon Surzyshyn collected 4 out of a possible 6 wins in the Rubber division as he looks to defend his championship title in 2018. Mike Demchenko was the only other driver to claim victory as he picked up a pair of wins.
In race 1, Lee McRae used the outside front row to move to the point ahead of Greg Eastwood in the Studded class, while Mike Demchenko thread the needle to move from fourth to second – behind leader Damon Surzyshyn in the Rubber class. It was smooth sailing for McRae until lap 3 when it appeared he was having electrical issues of some sort and took his car to the pits. Eastwood inherited the lead and by lap 7 had lapped the leading Rubber racers. Eastwood collected the win in the Studded series, while Surzyshyn navigated lap traffic well enough to hold off Demchenko for the win in the Rubber class. Dean Smith finished in third ahead of Trevor Hudey in fourth.
In race 2, Eastwood beat polesitter McRae to the lead exiting turns 2 and 3 while Surzsyshyn got by Smith to lead the Rubber field through the opening lap. On lap 4, Demchenko made an inside pass on Smith through corners 2 and 3 to moved into the runner-up position. As the race wore on, McRae was applying big pressure on Eastwood for the lead in the Studded class – attempting a high-speed, outside lane pass in turns 2 and 3. McRae slid a little too wide and Eastwood managed to maintain the point, and the lead to claim his second consecutive victory of the day. Surzysyhn also earned his second win in a row in the Rubber class as Demchenko finished second ahead of Smith.
In race 3, McRae started on the pole and lead wire-to-wire to pick up his first Studded win of the season after Eastwood got caught up in lap traffic. Demchenko also lead every lap to collect his first Rubber series win of the year as Surzyshyn spent most of the race battling Smith for second spot. Eventually Surzyshyn completed the pass to finish second ahead of Smith and Hudey.
In race 4, McRae and Eastwood swapped the lead a number of times over the opening 2 laps – eventually Eastwood secured the point. Demchenko used his first place starting spot in the Rubber class to lead Surzysyhn through the opening circuits. On lap 10, Trevor Hudey moved into the top 3 after passing Smith in turn 6. Smith then took his car to the pits for the rest of the race. A great battle was shaping up between the leading Rubber cars – Demchenko and Surzyshyn. On lap 13, the much faster Studded car of Eastwood used the inside line in turn 6 to get by Demchenko and Surzyshyn. This opened a hole for Surzyshyn to follow Eastwood past Demchenko for the lead. Eastwood easily collected the win in the Studded division after McRae took his car to the pits on the last lap and retired for the day. Surzysyhn managed to hold off Demchenko for the win in the Rubber division – finishing ahead of Hudey who placed third.
In race 5, Greg Eastwood would claim victory by default as he was the only Studded car left running. Damon Surzyshyn moved from fourth to first in the opening corner after squeezing by the field low exiting turn 3. Demchenko followed by the pack to move up a spot into second. Nothing more would change as Surzyshyn collected his fourth win of the day ahead of Demchenko, Smith and Hudey.
In race 6, Eastwood picked up his fifth win of the day by being the only Studded driver to take the green flag. It only took Surzysyhn 2 laps to move from fourth to first after an inside pass on Demchenko for the lead in the Rubber class. Surzyshyn and Demchenko battled hard all race long – often racing side-by-side through the S-curves and entering the tight corners at each end of the track together. Not wanting to disrupt the battle, Eastwood settled in right behind the leaders of the Rubber class and watched the battle unfold from the best seat in the house. After 14 laps, in the last corner of the last lap both drivers made contact low in turn 6. As the pair drag raced out of the corner, Demchenko was able to edge Surzysyhn at the line to pick up a hard fought win. Dean Smith placed third ahead of Trevor Hudey in fourth.
Action returns to Murdock Ski Pond on January 20 and 21st for the second instalment of ice racing. For more information on the WSCC, how to get involved in ice racing or for information on upcoming events, visit them online at www.wscc.mb.ca