2013 SCCA Pro Mazda MX-5 Cup – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park   Five Wins and Twelve Podium Finishes Carry the Weekend at Chicagoland

Skeer and Szymcza Continue Run at Mazda MX-5 Cup title

California kids Elliott Skeer and Christian Szymczak continue to dominate the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup series with each capturing wins during rounds seven and eight at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ont.

Szymczak leaves CTMP with the Mazda MX-5 Cup championship lead, after collecting 468 points. Skeer sit second only six markers behind. John Dean keeps himself in the fight, with 424 points on the season.

Following a sixth place finish in Sunday’s Round Eight, Kenton Koch still leads the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge championship with 501 points. Kemper gained some ground with the win, but still sits second, trailing by 83 markers. Foley leaves CTMP third, with a collection of 415 championship points.

Story Excerpts from SCCA.com

Round Seven – Saturday July 20

In a race that featured some very close running near the front, Szymczak was able to hold down the top position for 27 of 28 laps around the 10-turn, 2.459-mile road course. Starting on the pole in the No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5, Szymczak held the lead of the race, which averaged 91.357 mph, until he was passed by Skeer on lap two. Szymczak retook the lead on lap three, and never looked back, scoring his first CTMP win.

“It was a tight race the whole way through,” Szymczak said. “The draft really came into play and everyone was able to run in a pack. It was very hectic. I found myself looking behind, trying to pay attention to where the guys were behind me. There was never a dull moment. I’m happy to get away with the win and keep the car clean.

“We were able to get a good feel for the car and what it will do throughout the race distance. We also got to see what everyone else is capable of. Those two things set our minds at ease going into tomorrow, because we have an idea of what to expect.”

Starting from the third position, Dean spent most of the race embroiled in a tight battle for third.

In the No. 17 Pelican Replacement Windowns.com/ZoomZoomNation.com/Alpinestars MX-5, Skeer filled Szymczak’s mirrors for the first half of the race, staying within 0.2-second of the leader. On lap 19, Malkhassian got a run on Skeer, and made the pass for second stick. Five laps later, after going side-by-side with Malkhassian in Turn Eight, which allowed Dean past both drivers, Skeer slotted into fourth. He was ultimately able to get back around Malkhassian to complete the podium.

“We were looking pretty good off the start,” Skeer said. “For the first eight laps of the race we were solid, waiting for something to happen or make something happen, later on. That was the plan from the start, to conserve the tires.

“Things got interesting when Ara got up toward the front. At that point, you have to start to battle or you’re going to drop back to fifth or sixth. It’s frustrating when you’re trying to fight to stay on the podium and you see the new point leader inching away. That was probably the hardest part. But, I know that the car is good. Come tomorrow, it could just be like any other race weekend this year with Christian [Szymczak] winning on Saturday and me winning on Sunday. Hopefully, this will be another one of those weekends.”

In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Kenton Koch racked up another victory in 2013, keeping his win shutout streak alive. Driving the No. 63 Skip Barber Racing School SBMX-5, Koch was in second by the end of lap one, battling an ill-handling car, until Lucas Bize was forced to drop out on lap 17 with a driveline issue. Koch went on to the win.

Sunday, July 21

Elliott Skeer, of Vista, Calif., notched his fourth SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 win of 2013 in Sunday’s Round Eight race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Christian Szymczak, of Palos Verdes, Calif., finished second, followed by John Dean, of Sebring, Fla.

Driving the No. 17 Pelican Replacement Windows/ZoomZoomNation.com/Alpinestars MX-5, Skeer was able to counter Szymczak’s Round Seven win on Saturday with a last-lap pass following a restart.

The 45-minute timed race covered 25 laps, averaging 78.920 mph on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile road course, but was slowed by two full-course cautions totaling six laps. The second caution period, which was a result of the No.68 SBMX-5 of Bryan Silas contacting the Turn Two retaining wall, proved to have the most influence on the finish.

Following five laps under the yellow flag and the time period drawing to a close, series officials decided the course was safe to go green, resulting in a one-lap shootout to the checkered flag.

On the restart, Skeer sat second behind then-leader Szymczak. Skeer used the draft to make the outside pass of the No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5 of Szymczak stick going through Turn Eight. From there, Skeer kept it clean to cross the line in first.

“At this place, the draft keeps everybody together, and today proved that,” Skeer said. “Everyone stayed together going down the back straight, and it’s just a war waging out there. We knew we had to battle with Christian [Szymczak] to keep him at bay. We couldn’t just let him get away out front.

“The cautions really helped me out. The car was great on the short runs, but not very good on the long runs. Having those two short runs late in the race saved me. I was trying to get a good run out of Turn Five every lap, but felt there was always some little mistake I was making. But, I got it right on the last lap and got the tow, a lot like what happened at Sebring, and was able to pop out to make the pass on the outside of Turn Eight.”

Szymczak took home his third second-place trophy this season. While he had led 18 laps, Szymczak was satisfied with the hard-fought finish.

“This race was a lot different from yesterday,” Szymczak said. “There was a lot of close racing and a lot of dicing that was going on.”

Dean completed the podium and was in contention the entire race, having even led twice at the line. Dean’s No. 16 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5 took the final green flag in third and was able to hold the position, fending off the charging James Vance.

“This race was a lot of fun,” Dean said. “A second and a third at my favorite track isn’t bad. I lead a couple laps in there, and we also had some crazy maneuvers going on. There was a lot of side-by-side action in corners that were over 100 mph. It was just a lot of fun.

“We missed the setup this weekend, a little, which was unfortunate. Hopefully, we’ll pick it up at Coronado, because I need to make up some points. I can’t keep letting these guys beat me.

Vance, from just an hour away in Toronto, put on a show for the crowd, finishing fourth from his ninth-place starting position. The top-five finish in the No. 21 Exposystems MX-5 was an improvement on the last-place finish from Saturday, as a result of a sheared drive shaft that left the car inoperable on the starting grid.

Ara Malkhassian lowered his previous race lap record of 1:36.715 (90.594 mph), set during Saturday’s Round Seven, to 1:35.998 (92.214 mph). Malkhassian drove the No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5 to an eight-place finish.

Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, Calif., broke through to win his first Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge race, driving the No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5, ending Kenton Koch’s win streak at seven. Kemper also set a new race-lap record at 1:37.355 (90.929 mph).

The SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup will be back in action Sept. 20-22 in Southern California for the Coronado Speed Fest, part of the Fleet Week San Diego festivities.