JOLIET, Ill. (July 26, 2009) – Todd Lamb, of Atlanta, Ga., won Round Six of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup in convincing fashion and set a new series record by winning his fifth race in-a-row. Joliet, Ill.-driver Zach Ply and Marc Miller, of Holland, Mich., completed the podium at Autobahn Country Club, site of the Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix Presented by Mazda.
As the green flag waved to commence the 15-lap, 53.4-mile race, Miller made his bid for the lead into Turn One, but was caught out by a lack of grip on the outside.
“The first 100 yards, I had the best start of my life,” Miller said. “It was great. I got the jump when the flag came out and I thought, ‘man, I’m going to sail to this win.’ I gave the room I thought I needed to give, but there wasn’t enough grip on the outside, and when I got back into the throttle, the car slid wide. I dropped back to fourth.”
Lamb sailed by to take back the lead, followed by Ply and Justin Piscitell. As Miller fought to regain his lost positions on the 18-turn, 3.56-mile course, Lamb opened up a lead as wide as four and half seconds in his No. 84 AMG/Traqmate/Luna-C Racing MX-5.
“For the first part of the race we did a really good couple of laps,” Lamb said. “My car was hooked up. From there, I pulled out a good lead and started to bide my time, kind of conserving the car, which is what you do in the middle of a race when you’ve got a big lead. I started hearing noises and got concerned about the car braking, so I started slow down my shifts and take it easy. [Team Owner] Jason Hoover was on the radio, telling me the gap to second place, and we tried to maintain that. At that point, we just wanted to get to the checkered flag first.”
And that he did, taking his fifth-consecutive MX-5 Cup win by 2.124 seconds, averaging 76.346 mph.
“Coming into this season, I was expecting we’d be successful, but I couldn’t say we were expecting five poles and five wins,” Lamb said. “Our expectations were to win a few and do the best we could every race out. To be this successful is a credit to the AMG guys. They’ve put a great car underneath me.
“This race is dedicated to Kevin Malloy, a friend of mine who lost his battle with cancer yesterday,” Lamb concluded. “It’s a sad day, but at the same time, I’m glad we were able to win this one for him.”
Miller was able to work his way back to second by lap two, but was re-passed by Ply two laps later. When Miller fell back yet another spot and was forced to battle with Piscitell for third, Ply capitalized in the No. 27 Team MER/Insight Beverage Co. MX-5 and opened a healthy gap as Piscitell tried to fight off Miller.
“At the start of the race, the green flag flew, and I think I got a bit of a better start than Todd did,” Ply said. “I kind of helped him go through the inside. There’s a ton of grip inside. I saw Marc was pushing to the exit, and we had planned to work together, but I had to go through then and there. I tried to stick with Todd, but he was just checking out. I put my head down and tried to catch him.
“I made a couple mistakes early on and Marc got by me,” Ply recalled. “That gave me time to sit back and relax behind Marc. I think we worked really well together for half the race almost, and we ended up changing positions around the halfway point. I pulled a little bit of a lead on him. The car was great throughout the race, so I really thought that I was going maintain that lead on him, but he and Justin worked well together and toward the end, they caught me. The middle of the race and toward the end, I thought we had something for Todd, because we were slowly reeling him in. I think if we’d had a few more laps we probably could have closed the gap a little more.”
A second-place finish marked the first podium appearance for Ply.
Driving the No. 28 Team MER/MOCA/RaceNowforAutism MX-5, Miller pounced on a mistake by Piscitell to grab third on lap nine. Together, Miller and Piscitell were able to close the gap to Ply, but Miller ran out of time to make any passing attempts on his teammate.
“Coming into, Turn 16 I think it was, the brake went into ABS and never released and never gripped,” Miller said. “I got two wheels off. I tried to stay out of Justin’s way, so he got around me, but together we were able to work our way back up. A couple laps later, he made a mistake in Turn Six and I was able to get a good run and pass him. That’s when Zach was able to pull out a little bit. From there, it was just Justin and I trying to reel Zach back in.”
Miller has now finished on the podium in all six races this season and maintains the point lead, since Lamb missed the opening round of the season. Lamb has moved into second and trails Miller by 26 points (346 to 320). Piscitell is third with 315. Each driver will be able to drop their lowest scoring race for their season point total. If drops were factored today, Lamb would be leading Miller, 320 to 292.
Piscitell, from Patterson, N.Y., set the fastest lap of the race, a 2:46.526 (76.961 mph) en route to finishing fourth in the in the No. 89 ALARA Racing/DAMG Racing/ MAZDASPEED MX-5.
Ara Malkhassian, from Sonoma, Calif., completed the top five in the No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5.
Nick Mancuso, of nearby Mettawa, Ill., finished sixth. He was followed by Christopher Rhoades, Mark Jenkins, Jeff Mosing and Stan Wilson.
Alfred Ciaola, of New York, N.Y., earned the Carbotech Hard Charger award for advancing seven positions in the race, from 23rd to 16th.
Round Six of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup was aired live on HDNet, but will re-air on syndicated cable and satellite networks. A full schedule will be available shortly on www.mx-5cup.com.
MX-5 Cup next heads to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for Round Seven, Aug. 14 – 16.
JOLIET, Ill. - Results from Sunday’s 15-lap, 53.4-mile SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Round Six race, part of the Harrah's Autobahn Grand Prix Presented by Mazda at Autobahn, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. (1), Todd Lamb, Atlanta, Ga., MX-5, 15.
2. (3), Zach Ply, Joliet, Ill., MX-5, 15, -2.124.
3. (2), Marc Miller, Holland, Mich., MX-5, 15, -2.365.
4. (5), Justin Piscitell, Patterson, N.Y., MX-5, 15, -3.761.
5. (6), Ara Malkhassian, Sonoma, Calif., MX-5, 15, -17.060.
6. (7), Nick Mancuso, Mettawa, Ill., MX-5, 15, -17.486.
7. (10), Christopher Rhoades, Dallas, Texas, MX-5, 15, -18.235.
8. (11), Mark Jenkins, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 15, -33.908.
9. (8), Jeff Mosing, Austin, Texas, MX-5, 15, -34.099.
10. (9), Stan Wilson, Mt. Juliet, Tenn., MX-5, 15, -34.427.
11. (14), Pat Womack, Burr Ridge, Ill., MX-5, 15, -35.103.
12. (15), Lyonel Kent, Powell, Tenn., MX-5, 15, -38.544.
13. (12), Richard Fisher, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 15, -38.752.
14. (16), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 15, -40.321.
15. (17), Mike Jenkins, Fairview, Texas, MX-5, 15, -49.706.
16. (23), Alfred Ciaola, New York, N.Y., MX-5, 15, -52.926.
17. (19), Steve Bottom, Newport Beach, Calif., MX-5, 15, -53.164.
18. (20), Harrison Williams, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 15, -1:06.250.
19. (21), Michael Vitarelli, Brooklyn, N.Y., MX-5, 15, -1:09.840.
20. (22), Brad Adams, New Orleans, La., MX-5, 15, -1:23.690.
21. (24), Susan Krohn, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 14, -1 lap.
22. (18), Ben Anderson, Minneapolis, Minn., MX-5, 9, OHeat.
23. (13), Mark White, Madison, Wis., MX-5, 6, Mech.
24. (4), Brian Domont, Bourbonnais, Ill., MX-5, 2, Mech.
Time of race: 41 minutes, 57.986 seconds.
Average speed: 76.346 mph
Margin of victory: 2.124 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-15, #84 Todd Lamb
Fastest race lap: #89 Justin Piscitell, 2:46.526 (76.961 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #84 Todd Lamb, 2:46.142 (77.138 mph)
Carbotech Hard Charge: #75 Ciaola advances seven positions