New blood boosts Time Attack buzz

Local autocross is launching off
its 2011 campaign with a heavy emphasis on change. A new governing body and a
fresh field are slated to be the staples of races this year.

This month saw the first step
forward with the hosting of meet number one in the 2011 Time Attack series put
on by the Cayman Motorsports Association. Typically Time Attacks have been held
during the night, but with the induction of a new board it was decided to
switch things up a bit and run most events in the day this year.

With a lot of the usual suspects
unable to make the race, the field of 14 cars featured three new faces. Young
George Manderson was out in the Automotive Art Volvo to see if his blazing
speed at the kart track would translate to autocross. Manderson showed
considerable promise despite only recently getting his license. With some races
under his belt he could make waves later on.

Well known Honda guru Jimel McLean
made his return to the series after a lengthy sabbatical. Interestingly McLean
came out in the most underpowered car in what turned out to be an all Honda
field for the Two Wheel Drive class. The battle for 2WD category would come
down to McLean versus newcomer Cody Bowen in his Honda Integra Type R.

Bowen did well for his first time
at autocross, making improvements and trying to be smooth. An interesting side
note in the class was the return of Ian “Izie” Charlery, who shared the Type-R
with Bowen. With Charlery being new to FWD, driver skill would be the
determining factor. Charlery bested Bowen by a second but ended up taking
second place as McLean would take the win.

Veteran talent would take over the
rest of the classes. Last year’s All Wheel Drive winner Michael Weatherford set
down a base time of 104.82 seconds in the Ace Paint Subaru Impreza. He would be
the eventual winner with long-time marshal Peter Jurgens, who was also running
the Ace Paint Subaru, taking second. Third place was scooped up by Erol
“Carlos” Babayigit in his Mitsubishi Evolution III.

In the Unlimited class all eyes
were on Bobby Hulse and his Toyota Altezza. Nemesis Keith “Speedy” Tibbetts
III, who usually runs the Valvoline Subaru STi, borrowed Hulse’s car as the Sti
was not ready to compete. Hulse made some adjustments to the car in the
off-season and it took him a couple of runs to get the feel of it, highlighted
by a spin on his second lap. But he was able to sort himself out in the last
attempt and put down a time of 98.785s for the class win with Tibbetts III
taking second and Ian Tibbetts placing third in his Chevy Corvette.

In the battle round, the course
proved challenging with a few super tight switchbacks. Clearly even experienced
racers would struggle as veteran Keith “Speedy” Tibbetts III was disqualified
in his first run. Whereas the class runs are the best of three runs, the battle
run is one run, winner take all. Ultimately Hulse would come out on top with
Tibbetts’s Corvette in second and McLean’s Civic in third.

McLean, who put on quite a show
twisting his little car around the day’s course, states he was happy with his
performance.

“As a diehard, straight-line,
all-or-nothing type of guy, taking corners is definitely a different type of
learning experience,” McLean said. “Instead of pushing the pedal down and going
all out, Time Attack teaches you that it actually has little to do with power
and all to do with driver skill in handling your car. I would encourage any
young person that wants to improve as a driver to come and try it out.”

The next Time Attack event is on 27
March at the Progressive Loop. For more information log on to www.csn.ky or
e-mail [email protected]