MAZDASPEED Challenge Rounds 5 & 6
Monday, June 09, 2008 Rounds five and six of the inaugural season of the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge series were at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, run in tandem with a Formula Skip Barber open-wheel Three Day Racing School. We had two race groups. The weather was fantastic, and the racing was clean and green, with good races on Saturday and really great races on Sunday — lots of passes and re-passes with no contact. Lyonel Kent won all four races – he was the class of the field this weekend, for sure — but some of the new drivers had some great finishes. Such as Zac Zawisza, who had a mechanical DNF on Saturday but then ripped a new track record in Sunday’s race…
In qualifying, Lyonel Kent had about a second on Peter Mokran and after a clean start, Kent motored to a 4-second win over Mokran. Zac Zawisza had slotted into third on the first lap. On lap three, however, Zawisza’s motor went soft and he was done, handing third place back to Justin Piscitell. Keith Holbrooks finished a lonely fourth, but Ken Greenberg and Randy McAyeal had a mighty dice for fifth, with Greenberg finishing about a second in front of McAyeal at the checker. For Kent, it was his first MAZDASPEED Challenge win – and he set fastest race-lap in the process.
Kent again ran away with this one, but the dice for P2 was awesome. Mokran, Piscitell and Zawisza all had their turn in the position and it was great to see the clean, well thought out passes and re-passes. This fight for second became a two-man battle on lap nine, when Zawisza went four-off and had to dash to the pits for his safety check. Piscitell had taken second place on lap seven but four laps later, after Zawisza’s mistake, Mokran grabbed it back. Piscitell then hung right there with Mokran and on the last lap, passed him for the P2 laurels. Zawisza salvaged fourth (on lap two, by the way, he set a new track record for the Skip Barber MX-5, a 1:49.516), followed by Holbrooks, McAyeal and Greenberg.
Kent was doing a double race weekend and in Group 2 qualifying, he took the pole again for race one, with Gray Gregory, Chris Brown and Gerry Hall filling the first two rows. Kent remained on fire and again led every lap, leaving the rest of the podium spots to be tussled over. Hall had gone from fourth to third (behind Gregory) right at the start and on lap four both he and Brown got around, shuffling Gregory to fourth. Soon Hall was alone in second as Gregory and Brown entertained everyone with the battle for third, eventually earned by Gregory. James Lustman put in some good laps to snag fifth, followed by Matthew Durward, Kevin Hall, Quenton Durward and Ted Jewell.
Kent capped a perfect weekend with another flag-to-flagger, but this time he couldn’t walk the field, his victory over Brown being less than 2 seconds. G. Hall had P2 for the first three laps but fell to fourth on lap four as Brown and Gregory moved up. It ook a few laps, but on lap nine Hall lifted himself back into third, but three laps later Gregory returned the favor. Three and a half laps from the end, Hall went four-off and thus ended his chance at a podium. At the checker, it was Kent with win number four, closely followed by Brown and Gregory. M. Durward was fourth and K. Hall fifth. Q. Durward, Jewell and G. Hall rounded out the field, with Lustman having suffered a broken third gear early on.
Next for MAZDASPEED Challenge is Road Atlanta, another of America’s great road racing circuits. The date is July 10-12 for rounds seven and eight. It’s part of the Race Weekend for the Regional East and Midwest Skip Barber F2000 championships. The weather should be great and the fields should be strong. IMPORTANT! This is NOT a Fri./Sat./Sun. event – it is going to be a Thurs./Fri./Sat. weekend, just like we do at Lime Rick.