Intense battles dominated each round of the EXR Racing Series in Fontanta
FONTANA – The EXR Racing Series brought all the thrills and action to the famous Auto Club Speedway in Southern California for rounds nine and ten of the season. The 2.8-miles ROVAL circuit blends a high speed banked portion of a super-speedway with the tight coroners of a road course.
Eleven drivers, including two new drivers, comprised the field of mostly seasoned EXR Series drivers. Current point leader in the series, Romain Thievin, was joined by returning drivers David Perisset, Lisa Clark, Bill Hynes, Richard McIntosh, Roger Eagleton, Clayton Schroeder, Frank Marcum, and Mike Halverson.
New drivers to the Series were Rene Villeneuve, who previously competed in 24 Hours of Daytona, Grand-AM Rolex Series, and American Le Mans Series, raced for UFD Racing and scored his first win during race 2 on Sunday. Rookie, Franck Leroux also raced on Sunday and scored a 3rd place podium finish.
During the qualification two, Richard McIntosh made contact with Clayton Schroeder, around turn seven and was unable to finish the session. Richard’s front left wheel was too damaged to be repaired in time for race one; nevertheless, he was able to compete in a spare car. Mike Halverson also experienced less grip but said, “by the time I got into the high banking, it’s flouting a little bit even though I had the pedal pegged to the floor, you really had to stay on it. The track is hot and slippery.”
Lisa Clark described the EXR LV02 as being, “vacuumed to the track.” “But if you don’t hold your positon you feel like you’re going up into the wall which is a really strange feeling. Once the car stabilizes and you just go flat out and hopefully hit your mark,” Clark said before race one.
Race 1 took place on Saturday evening. After two qualification sessions earlier in the afternoon, which saw a few drivers to spin because the track was hot and slick, the grid was set with Thievin, Eagleton, and Perisset up front.
“I’m so glad I finished, after my wreck during qualification, I was in the spare car for the race and it was fantastic. As always, the mechanic team did an incredible job setting up the second car for me. It ran as sweet as clock-work. I’m really proud of those guys, it was awesome. I made up a couple places and I finished this time, which is even better still.” Richard said after race one.
The battle up-top during race one involved Thievin, Eagleton, and Perisset who were nearly 3-wide at the start and continued to change position throughout the race. Ultimately, Romain Thievin regained his positon and crossed the finish line first, Roger Eagleton in second, and David Perisset finishing in third place.
After the race Romain said, “Thankfully Roger lost some time battling at the beginning of the race giving me a gap. Still, I kept looking in my mirror making it hard to focus on my line. But I didn’t make any mistakes during this race which is why I won. Even though I won, Roger did a really good job. Definitely, tomorrow will be another story because I’m sure Roger will stay tighter and there will be more drafting.”
Series junior, Clayton Schroeder, finished 5th after starting the race in 8th position said he had a lot more grip during the race which allowed him to gain a lot of speed. “I had so much more grip than I did during qualification. I had some really good battles with the guys and finished better than I thought I would. There was a lot of close racing which is different than Laguna in that regard,” said Schroeder.
During the fourth qualification Perisset laid down the fastest lap of the session, taking pole position for the race 2. “The car was great and we definitely had more grip than we did yesterday. There was a lot of traffic during the session so it was hard to get a clear lap or draft but overall it was a great session,” said Perisset. Thievin and Villeneuve would start the race in second and third positon.
At the start the entire field was tight, going 3-wide around the high speed banking. Coming into turn 2 along the high speed banking, Leroux cut off Bill Hynes after leaving his center line and dropping all the way to the bottom of the race track. Bill was forced to brake and lost his 3rd place positon. “I had the line on the start and he [Leroux] came down on the oval and chopped me. If I hadn’t lifted we all would have been caught up in a wreak,” said Hynes after the race. Franck received a +15 penalty for chopping Hynes.
Through turns 3 and 4, Perisset, Eagleton, and Schroeder got tangled and crashed. “We went hot into turn 3 and I didn’t have space to brake. I hit David, twice, and then Clayton ran into me and then Marcum ran into Clayton, it was not a great way to end the weekend,” Eagleton said. They were unable to finish the race.
During the incident Frank Marcum also hit Roger from behind and pitted to have his damaged hood removed before returning to the race. “I changed my aero package,” Marcum joked, “we all got caught up in the first tight turn, I was the last one in so I was the first one out but I took some damage. I was hoping the nose would stay down but it was flapping so I came in and they took it off. At least I was able to finish the race, we ran good.” After the race, Perisset and Eagleton received a warning and both will be on probation for the next race.
When the dust settled, Rene Villeneuve won the race. Thievin took 2nd and Franck Leroux finished in 3rd despite his +15 second penalty. “That was a lot of fun. These guys are second to none in terms of talent. It really took a lot of race craft and wits to keep them behind me. Every lap there was a swap for the lead. I tried to be defensive without slowing down into the corners. Our constant battling might of slowed us down but it kept us together and the battles were fun,” said Villeneuve during the podium ceremony.
The next race for the EXR Series will be in Las Vegas for the UFD 250, a 3-hour endurance race on October 30th and then the season finale, November 11th and 12th, both held at Exotics Racing.
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Cleo Premat, Director of Communication
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