Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Estrela and Eidson swap points lead at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted April 3, 2012 at 7:54 pm Skip Barber

Danilo Estrela (4) leads the Skip Barber Winter Series field at Sebring International Raceway
(photo: Debbie Ebalobo | skipbarber.com)

The Skip Barber Winter Series is becoming the battle of the Es.

As in Danilo Estrela vs. Jake Eidson.

Heading into the penultimate race weekend Estrela held a 21-point lead punctuated by four-straight wins. It didn’t last, however, as Jake Eidson was as consistent as possible in both Round 9 and 10 winning both races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, emerging with a two-point lead in the Formula Skip Barber championship.

While Estrela and Eidson have been fighting for the race wins, both are chased by a solid crop of young and talented drivers. Rookie Nick Neri is tied at 240 points (-16) with front runner Jack Mitchell. Another fast rookie, Leonardo Jafet, has 219 points. Drivers are allowed to drop their worst two finishes and the standings reflect that. One race weekend remains.

Hit the jump for a quick recap of Rounds 7-10.

Sebring International Raceway – Rounds 7-8

Estrela topped Group 2 in Race 1 of Round 7 with Eidson third. Eidson was runner-up in Group 2’s second race. In Round 8, Estrela qualified on pole and won Race 1 (Group 4), followed by Eidson, Jafet, and Mitchell Jr. Eidson started from pole in Group 4’s second race and won. Both drivers led every lap during their respective wins.

Mazda Raceway Laguna SecaRounds 9-10

Eidson dominated at Laguna Seca winning both races and taking the championship lead. But all eyes were on Estrela — at least in the first race. The MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development driver started Round 9 in 18th after a qualifying mishap. He put on a show for onlookers.

A good one, albeit short.

Estrela improved 15 spots advancing from 18th to 3rd — gaining 11 positions in the first two laps — as the race developed. It appeared his charge would continue when he put four wheels off in Turn 10 on the last lap after a deep-braking attempt on Mitchell failed. In the end, Estrela was classified 7th. Mitchell, Jafet, Neri, and Tristan DeGrand rounded out the top five.

In Round 10, Eidson, again, drove to victory with Mitchell Jr. close behind. DeGrand rounded out the podium after staring fifth. Nick Silva and Jose Montiel completed the top-five. Estrela was 16th. He passed 34 cars (or more) in two races but had little to show for it in terms of points and finishes.

Nick Neri topped Group 3 in both races with up-and-comer Andrew Hobbs finishing runner-up. Neri put on a good show, overtaking 11 cars for the win after starting 12th in the group’s first race.

The Winter Championship should have an interesting conclusion when the drivers return to track for the season-finale at Sebring International Raceway on April 14-15. Will one of the Es emerge as the champion or will it be another driver lurking closely behind?

For up-to-date news and views on karting and junior formula racing follow @JOWT on Twitter or follow on Facebook.

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