K1 Speed in Irvine, California wrapped up the first half of the 2011 Challenge GP race season this past Sunday to a packed house full of new and returning faces. Drivers in contention for the overall points championship put on quite a show as they all battled for that top qualifying spot to give them the best possible starting position for the main events. The super-track layout which was ran in the revers direction for this race series has proven to be a challenging course layout as drivers struggled a bit early on in the season to find the fast line around the extended course layout. Young up and coming driver Robby Stanovich has certainly given a lot of the more veteran drivers a good run for their money this season, as he would come out on top with a fast lap of 41.332 seconds to take the pole position in the A-Main, and break the Super-Track record at the same time. The rest of the drivers would fall in-line during qualifying sitting just a couple of tenths of a second off his lap time to set the field for the mains.
Out on track first to start off the nights main event were the C-Main drivers which was a divers group of newcomers to the Challenge GP Race series. The green flag rolling start for these new drivers would be a first for all of them but they were able to maintain clean driving lines and make the 7 lap main pretty straight forward. Mike Buongiorno would take the checkered flag for the win followed by Omid Tahami in second and Jessica Reed would round out the top 3 on the podium. The group was full of very capable drivers that with some more seat time should have a good shot at running up with some of the more veteran drivers in 2nd half of the season.
B-Main drivers took to the track next which had a good mix of the veteran drivers all looking to edge out one another for position. In a very competitive race it would be Mark Hornbeck on pole for the rolling start, but he would fall back early to John Perry and Michael Arnold putting Mark in 3rd for a couple of laps. Chris Akers would find a line just to the inside of Mark dropping him back to fourth where he would finish out his evening. With John Perry out in clean air he had plenty of breathing room to make a run for the finish line. Perry would go on to take the top spot on the podium, followed closely by Michael Arnold, with Chris Akers taking third.
The A-Main drivers would be on track next to finish out the evenings event with15 year old pole setter Robby Stanovich leading the field for the start. The green flag dropped and Robby would have his work cut out for him holding off the other drivers that were charging hard for the front. Points leader Toby Rodriguez would have an unfortunate race incident which put him to the back of the field early on, in which he was unable to recover in time to catch back up to the rest of the field. Stanovich would go on to take the win once the checkered flag was out, followed by Nicholas Rebeil in second and Steve Lattanzi to round out the top three.
The over all points championship would end up being a close battle, and even with his last place finish in the A-Main Toby Rodriguez would take the overall points championship spot for K1′s OC location. Robby Stanovich would take second place overall, but may have made it a closer battle if he hadn’t missed the season opener. Nicholas Rebeil would take the 3rd overall position thanks to his finish in this race which moved him up a few positions in the standings.
With the first half of the season in the books, the dust has yet to settle as the second half of the K1 Speed Challenge GP series will resume in July, which will include an all new track layout for drivers to compete on. Keep an eye on upcoming press releases for a full schedule to be released in the coming month for race dates for K1 Speed in Irvine, California