Szymczak Sails to Mazda MX-5 Cup Round Five Victory at Mid-Ohio
Jun. 15, 2013 - LEXINGTON, Ohio - Christian Szymczak, of Palos Verdes, Calif., led Round Five flag-to-flag, bringing home the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course,part of the Diamond Cellar Classic. Elliott Skeer, of Vista, Calif., finished second ahead of Dean Copeland, of Bowie, Md.
Christian Szymczak led from the start of Race One at Mid-Ohio.
Szymczak set sail in the No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5 from the moment the lights went off, driving to an eventual 6.741-second victory over Skeer. The caution-free 26-lap race averaged 81.562 mph around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. Szymczak lowered the record for the fastest race lap to 1:39.223 (81.924 mph) on his way to the win, breaking the old record of 1:39.268 (81.887 mph) set last year by Stevan McAleer during his championship run.
“Everything went perfectly,” Szymczak said. “We got a perfect start and I was able to pull a bit of a gap in lap one. That was beneficial because I was able to decrease the effectiveness of the draft behind me. From there I just ran clean, consistent laps as well as I could. In the end it all worked out.
“It’s looking good for tomorrow. Hopefully the conditions will hold out and we’ll be able to do a lot of the same.”
Skeer, in the No. 17 Pelican Replacement Windows/ZoomZoomNation.com/Alpinestars MX-5, got a good jump from his front row starting spot but was under duress for most of the race. He stayed just ahead of Copeland, who spent most of the race trying to take second place.
“Off the start I fell back a little bit,” Skeer said. “We ran with Dean [Copeland] and we were really running well. We had a couple good battles, but just couldn’t catch Christian [Szymczak]. We had a great last-lap battle [with Copeland], and brought it home second.
“The point lead was severely cut today, but the goal is to keep improving. Tomorrow’s a new day, so we’ll just have to go get them tomorrow.”
Copeland, driving the No. 7 Sync Speed Inc. MX-5, did not give Skeer much room to breathe throughout the entire race. The battle resulted in Copeland attempting a last-lap pass to get around Skeer. Copeland was able to pull side-by-side with Skeer, but was unable to complete the move. Copeland was happy with the result, as he scored his first podium of the season.
“We were trying to stay nose-to-tail for the whole race, even until the last half-lap,” Copeland said. “I decided to pull the trigger on Elliott, had cleared him on the outside of the track coming off the back stretch. We ran side-by-side all the way through the ‘Esses’ and got into the marbles headed down through ‘Thunder Valley.’ The back end washed out a little, and we dropped a wheel off track.
“It was all good considering we only made five laps of practice all weekend. We had some water in our fuel and spent all day yesterday draining and cleaning it out. It’s been a tough weekend, but not a bad result. I’ll take third.”
Patrick Gallagher, of nearby Thornville, Ohio, notched a fourth-place finish, his second-best of the year and third consecutive top-five in the No. 28 MAZDASPEED/Howard Concrete Pumping/CTL Engineering MX-5.
The No. 16 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5, with John Dean working hard behind the wheel, passed seven cars to finish fifth after starting the race in the 12th position.
Kenton Koch, of Glendora, Calif., took the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge win, setting a new class race lap record of 1:42.446 (80.911 mph) in the No. 63 Skip Barber Racing School SBMX-5.
“I was able to pull a gap at the beginning,” Koch said. “I just continued on and was able to open that gap as the race went on. Toward the end, I was trying to save the car a bit to have something left for tomorrow. All-in-all, it was a good win, and I can’t wait for the next race tomorrow. Hopefully it won’t rain, but even if it does, I like the rain. So we’ll see what happens.”
Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, Calif., finished second in the No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5, followed by Robby Foley, of Randolph, N.J., in the No. 93 SBMX-5.
The lights go out for race two of the Mid-Ohio doubleheader for a standing start Sunday at 10:10 a.m. (EDT).
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