Longtime top soloist Ken Motonishi had never made it past round eight in a Gumout Super Challenge at a Tire Rack SCCAProSolo event and wasn’t about to waste a chance to finally grab that elusive win this weekend at the El Toro Pro Solo in Irvine, Calif.
Motonishi qualified for the elimination-bracket Gumout Super Challenge as just the fourth-quickest driver in the 26-car Street Touring R class.
Once in, however, the work was hardly done. Motonishi’s OS Giken/A.R.E./bjoinfilms.com Mazda MX-5 was matched against Andy McKee’s Goodyear/A.R.E./Sias Tuning/7parts.com Mazda RX-7. Motonishi knew that McKee’s RX-7 would be much quicker on the second run once the tires were warmed, but was only able to carry a narrow lead after the first pair of runs. By his own accord, Motonishi drove his best lap of the event to keep the margin over McKee and motor on to Round Two. After dodging that bullet, Motonishi was able to settle in and run consistent laps to move through the field.
Motonishi disposed of Doug Rowse’s D Street Prepared-leading Hoosier/Evolution/Cortez BMW 330 in the second round and exorcised his round-of-eight demons with a win against Ryan Buetzer’s ChaseCam/Albin Bowling Supply Pontiac Solstice to move into the semi-finals.
Not ready to miss an opportunity, Motonishi locked down Morgan Trotter’s Road Tire C2 Motorsports/TheRacersStore.com Dodge SRT-4 in the round of four. In the opposite bracket, Steve Lau’s A Stock qualifying Porsche Cayman topped best-qualifying Street Modified’s Mike Simanyi (OS Giken/ABL Original Parts BMW M3) to square off with Motonishi in the championship round.
While Motonishi was landing the Gumout Super Challenge title, Simanyi bested Trotter for third place.
Christine Grice drove her top qualifying Berry Family Racing/Hoosier/OS Giken Mitsubishi Evo to the Ladies Challenge title over Nicole Nagler. Nagler was the top qualifier in Ladies Class 3, driving the Toyo Tires/ProParts USA Honda Civic past Kim Whitener to make the finals. Grice topped Round 1 Ladies Challenge winner Shelly Monfort in the semi-finals.
The Tire Rack ProSolo Series returns to action Memorial Day weekend in a tune-up for the finale at the Lincoln ProSolo at Lincoln Airpark and hosted by the Nebraska Region. The Tire Rack ProSolo event will take place Friday and Saturday, May 25-26, followed by a Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Tour event, May 27-28.