Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship Heats Up at Road America
 July 31, 2023| 
  • Series News
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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (July 31, 2023) – With eight races in the books and six more to go, the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires Championship is coming into focus. Rounds Nine and 10 at Wisconsin’s Road America might be where the 2023 title favorites make themselves known.

 

The Mazda MX-5 Cup points lead bounced around amongst several drivers early in the season, but now Aaron Jeansonne (No. 24 JTR Motorsports Engineering) seems to have a firm hold on the top spot. Jeansonne earned his first-ever race win at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in May and backed it up with another win at Watkins Glen International in June. He is hoping to continue this momentum at Road America where his best finish to-date is fourth.

 

“Road America is one of the most fun tracks to race on the schedule and it presents every type of challenge this series has to offer,” Jeansonne said. “It takes a good car, good management of the draft, and some guts to stay at the limit. The new surface will be a learning curve for all of us and will make practice and qualifying that much more valuable. Staying in the lead pack will be important as well because the ability to come back from behind is never guaranteed here. I would also say it’s a good place to have a great drafting partner!”

 

Jeansonne leads Selin Rollan (No. 87 Hixon Motor Sports) by 190 points, not an insurmountable lead by any means, considering the maximum points available for each race is 380. Rollan has two prior MX-5 Cup wins at Road America, the first in 2019 and then again in 2021.

 

The driver on the entry list with the most wins at Road America, however, is Robert Noaker (No. 13 Robert Noaker Racing). He swept the 2020 weekend and shared the top step with Rollan in 2021 for a total of three victories. After a slow start, Noaker’s season has picked up momentum and is poised to pick up his first win of the year.

 

“Road America is such a unique place to race at with the draft being so important,” Noaker said. “Unlike Daytona where you only have one hard brake zone at high speed, here we have three, so it stacks up a lot more. I have heard that the repave is quite a bit faster so it will be interesting to see what that will do for our lap times. The two biggest things in the race are keeping the car clean and staying in the lead draft. It is really easy to get caught out and drop to the back of the draft.”

 

Drafting is the name of the game at Road America. At 4.048 miles, it is the longest track on the MX-5 Cup schedule and features three long straights. The draft is so powerful that it’s not uncommon to see a car drop five positions or more on a single straight. Nowhere is this more evident than the final turn, leading uphill to the start/finish line and then into Turn One. It has created numerous photo-finishes. In fact, in the 12 most recent MX-5 Cup races at Road America, only two had a margin of victory of more than one second.

 

In the battle for Rookie of the Year, which comes with an $80,000 prize from Mazda, Thomas Annunziata (No. 10 Hixon Motor Sports) has taken control of the lead after an outstanding weekend at Watkins Glen that saw him on the podium in both races. He leads fellow rookie Nate Cicero (No. 83 McCumbee McAleer Racing) by 240 points.

 

You might be feeling lucky, but it is always a dangerous proposition to pick a MX-5 Cup race winner at Road America; even down to the final corner of the final lap, it’s anyone’s game. And you better believe these drivers are playing to win, because the 2023 champion takes home a cool $250,000 from Mazda.

 

Both races at Road America take place Saturday, August 5. The first is at 10:15am ET and the second at 3:45pm ET. Both will be streamed live on RACER.com.

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