The CCS Florida season-opener event February 10-11 at Homestead-Miami Speedway marked the end of an era and a new beginning for the four decades-long roadrace series. The series' Promoter Henry DeGouw announced his retirement shortly before the first race of the season. The Florida franchise subsequently merged with CCS/ASRA to be run by series owner Kevin Elliot with some race day and season schedule changes implemented, and the majority of the Florida staff remaining in place. One major change was longtime staff member Brian Klingensmith being handed over the reigns to be in charge at future Florida events. The longstanding tradition of post race podium presentations will be replaced with a mid-day presentation of the Unlimited Grand Prix awards only. All other awards will be available for pick-up by racers once results posted and finalized for their classes.
The weekend kicked off with a full day of practice and the 2017 Florida Region Awards Ceremony. Speeches were made and awards were presented to last season's Championship winners as well as staff members. Lucas Silva took his place as this year's number one plate holder, and nine of the top ten rides were on hand to receive their hard-earned new number plates.
Following a full round of practice, day two started with one of the hottest contested races of the day, GTO. Last year's number one rider and fan favorite, Stefano Mesa, led the charge with the holeshot in the 25 minute-long race. He was out front from start to finish on his Westside Performance Kawasaki ZX-10R, with the battle for second in full force behind him. Felipe MacLean held down second place on his Yntegra Kawasaki ZX-10R until he was passed by young gun, Brandon Paasch (who was gridded in the back), on an England Repairs/MDM Yamaha YZF-R1 in lap four. The race then became a three-way fight for second with Paash leading the pursuit of front-runner, Mesa, who was slowly and methodically inching away from the rest of the field. Mesa went on to claim his first victory of the day without challenge. Paasch finished second with MacLean, Lucas Silva, and Bruno Silva rounding off the top five.
Mesa went on to dominate the Unlimited classes, first winning the Unlimited Supersport race after nabbing another early lead and running out front from start to finish. Bruno Silva, Lucas Silva, Vasiliy Zhulin, and Tony Storniolo rounded off the top five. MacLean was DQ's for failing to tech. The Unlimited Superbike race was more of a challenge as MacLean was the holeshot winner and led the majority of the race with Mesa close behind and looking for a way around. Mesa finally made his passing move towards the end of the six lap sprint race and claimed his third victory of the day. MacLean finished second, with Paasch, Max Angles and Lucas Silva topping off the podium.
Mesa was out front again early in the coveted Unlimited Grand Prix race and led the rest of the field for all six laps of the race. Behind him, MacLean and Paasch battled for second, with Paasch closing in and looking for a way around in the corners. The three front runners ran close to lap record times, all three less than one second away from the CCS track record. In lap three, Mesa clocked the fastest lap of the day, turning a 1:23.277 lap time, a mere tenth of a second away from the record set by Geoff May in 2011, of 1:23.131 on the EBR 1190RS. MacLean ran the second fastest lap of the day, also in lap three with a time of 1:23.633, and Paasch was super close behind with the third fastest lap of the day, in lap two, of 1:23.665.
Mesa went on to claim his fourth and final victory of the day, and you can bet he'll be back seeking a new track lap record and his second Pirelli bounty of the season. MacLean maintained his second place advantage to the checkered flag, and Paasch finished just behind him in third. Mesa is sponsored by Pirelli, Thermosman, Westside Performance, One-X Custom Suits, and Palmetto Bay Collision. MacLean is sponsored by Yntegra, KSM, Dunlop, and MacLean Racing Team. Paasch is sponsored by MDM, England Repairs, Pirelli, Penske and Evolve GT.
Cameron Jones was the biggest winner of the day with five first place finishes. He won the GT 500, 300 Superbike, 500 Superbike, 300 Supersport, and Moto 3 classes on his Kawasaki Ninja 300.
For the complete Homestead race results, click here.
The next round of CCS/ASRA is scheduled for March 16-8th at Daytona International Speedway and will include the 77th running of the Daytona 200. CCS Florida region is scheduled to compete again at Homestead-Miami Speedway June 2-3rd.
The American Sportbike Racing Association (ASRA) is the parent organization to the Championship Cup Series (CCS), the largest amateur motorcycle road racing organization in the United States issuing over 2800 licenses per year. ASRA promotes eight AMA sanctioned Sprint Series and seven AMA sanctioned Team Challenge road racing events for 2018. The CCS Series sanctions 40 events at popular tracks around the United States, including Daytona International Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Homestead Miami Speedway, Road America, New Jersey Motorsports Park and Virginia International Raceway among other fine venues. In 2018 ASRA and CCS will provide riders with access to millions of dollars of sponsorship awards through participation in its sanctioned events.