The EXR Racing Series came home to Las Vegas for rounds five and six at an updated Exotics Racing facility at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 1.5-mile circuit presented several safety improvements, including new crash fences and upgraded lighting while also debuting a “My Laps” timing and scoring system.
The EXR Racing Series in Las Vegas, NV July 1-2, 2016
Once again, eight drivers were entered for the two-race format taking place over the Independence Day Holiday weekend. Multi-race winner Romain Thievin was joined by returning drivers David Perisset, Lisa Clark and Bill Hynes, while Mark Ramsey also returned after skipping the previous race weekend.
New drivers to the Series were Roger Eagleton who is a back-to-back 25 Hours of Thunderhill winner; Hanna Zellers, an 18 year-old past karting champion and multi-race winner in SCCA Formula Enterprise; along with Sammy Valafar, an accomplished SCCA and NASA racer in his own right.
Race 1, took place Friday evening under the lights following two tight qualifying sessions. The first three on the grid, Thievin, Valafar and Perisset were separated by only 1.3 seconds.
“It was a tight qualifying, especially the first session. Sammy (Valafar) was just behind and putting a lot of pressure on me. I did a perfect lap on the second qualification without any mistakes. A 1:04.6 sec. lap is a very good time around here,” said polesitter Thievin.
During the race Thievin and Valafar soon gapped the rest of the field as the two ran tightly together for the duration. Valafar took the win ahead of Thievin by a hair’s width 0.476 seconds, making it the closest margin of victory yet for the first-year series.
Behind Eagleton and Perisset had their own tight battle for the final step on the podium. Eagleton prevailed crossing the finish line by an even tighter 0.374 seconds than the pair ahead.
Lisa Clark enjoyed her best race yet by finishing in a solid fifth place with Bill Hynes coming home in sixth place, three seconds adrift of Clark. Ramsey and Zellers finished in seventh and eighth places respectively.
The second race of the weekend took place Saturday evening, and once again the front of the grid was tight. Thievin took the pole again, but this time the top-5 were within 1.2 seconds. Valafar took the outside pole and behind were Eagleton and Perisset on the second row, while Zellers showed a marked improvement to qualify in fifth position.
As in race 1, the second contest of the weekend was outright duel between Thievin and Valafar, but this time Eagleton, Perisset and Zellers joined the party by remaining close behind. As the group came into the final corner, Valafar made the pass on Thievin for the lead.
“The race was very difficult. Romain was definitely faster and unfortunately (for Thievin), he got held up with the lap traffic and it gave me a chance,” said Valafar. “Other than that, he had me but I’ve won a lot of races where I am not the fastest and on the last lap the leader make some sort of mistake and the opportunity opens. I am apologizing for the contact. I don’t race that way but it was the last corner, the last lap and I had to take my chance but that’s not the way I am usually racing.”
After the race, Series officials relegated Valafar to second place due to the contact, which is strictly enforced, and awarded the win to Thievin.
EXR Series Las Vegas, NV – Checkered Flag Winner!
Eagleton earned another podium finish followed by Perisset in fourth place and Zellers showed her true form coming in fifth place.
“My race was good, even if I’m not at the place I wanted. Sammy and Romain are fast and they don’t make any mistakes,” said Eagleton. “I think I ended up at the last day with the fastest lap that I’ve had all weekend so that’s great and it’s constant improvement.”
Finishing in sixth place was Hynes, matching his Friday result. Behind were Ramsey and Clark in seventh and eight places.
Next up for the series is the technically challenging course at Sonoma Raceway on August 26-27.
See full race results here:
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