Challenge Cup competitors traveled to the Garden State’s New Jersey Mortorsports Park circuit for the third round of the 2018 series. The Series races were incorporated into the SCCA’s Northeast Majors weekend at the track.
Saturday morning qualifying was dry, and after the twenty-five minute session was over, Murillo Latorre had secured the Challenge Cup pole position with Masters division driver Dean Curtis lined up next to him. The field up front was tight, with eight Challenge Cup competitors within one second of Latorre’s time.
Between qualifying and the afternoon race, a major weather front descended on the area and rain was pelting the track when the combined-class field of thirty-three cars took the green flag. Under treacherous conditions the Challenge Cup drivers acquitted themselves well during the race, with no major incidents on the slick track. Up at the front of the field Barrett Kingsborough and pole-sitter Murillo Latorre separated themselves from the rest of the field and were having an intense duel. It came down to the wire, but at the checkered flag Barrett prevailed. Dean Curtis took third overall and was closing in on the two dueling drivers in front of him after being slowed by spray drowning out his carb earlier in the race. In a testimony to the international flavor of the Challenge Cup, it was a multi-nation podium, composed of a Canadian, a Brazilian and an American!
When the Divisional trophies were handed out, it was Curtis first in In Masters, with Sam Ryan taking home the second-place hardware and Mark Farnham securing the third spot on the podium. Under less-than-ideal circumstances, Kingsborough earned a well-deserved first place in the Regular Division, with Latorre taking home the second-place trophy and Matt Clark grabbing third place, this also a triple-country top three.
With the heavy rains, the Saturday hospitality party was moved inside to the beautiful, on site Officers Club facility. The NJMP staff caterers did a stellar job providing for the somewhat storm weary Challenge Cup competitors, crew members and guests. Sherman Engler’s name was drawn as the $400 main prize winner along with his good fortune, many other cash and give-away prizes were handed out to lucky Challenge Cup drivers.
With no qualifying sessions on Sunday, the grid was set using Saturday’s times. The skies were clear and sunny, but the track was still wet in places because of the monsoon rainstorms from the day before. The field took the green flag and as the packed cars poured into turn one, Chris Elwell got sideways on some water crossing the track. Trevor Carmody and Sherman Engler spun trying to avoid him and unfortunately their cars were too damaged to continue. Fortunately however, no one was injured in the incident. The race was red-flagged and once the corner had been cleared, the field took the green flag and the racing resumed. Up at the head of the Challenge Cup competitors, Matt Clark and Murillo Latorre had a ding-dong battle throughout the race, with Clark eventually prevailing by one-half second over Latorre. Masters driver Mark Farnham took third-overall.
Along with the overall win, Clark took home the first-place trophy in Regular with Latorre garnering the second-place hardware and Chris Elwell, recovering from his earlier incident, taking the third spot. In the Masters Division the trophy and the top spot on the podium went to Mark Farnham with Series “rookie” Bill Roche grabbing the second-place trophy and Sue Ryan getting the third-place trophy for the Ryan household’s mantle.
Join the Challenge Cup Series at Summit Point, August 24-26 for the fourth round of the 2018 Challenge Cup Series.