SCCA Pro MX-5 Cup concludes two-day test at Sebring
The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup completed two days of testing at Sebring International Raceway on Tuesday, with the test open to all teams in advance of the season opener at the same track, March 13-15.
The track was open to competitors for nearly eight hours over the two days, with four hour-long sessions available each day. Testing is just that, so while raw speed is not always a true measure of success, some storylines emerged for 2013.
Christian Szymczak, who finished fourth in the championship a season ago driving for Sick Sideways, acclimated himself quickly to his new ALARA Racing team and posted the fastest time of the test. His lap of 2:31.027 (88.169 mph) in the No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5 was quicker than the fastest race lap a season ago.
The fast lap left him just 0.015sec ahead of his former teammate, John Dean, in the No. 16 Sick Sideways MX-5. Dean, a Sebring native, and returning teammate Nathanial Sparks' No. 3 OOTSK Peformance/Sick Sideways MX-5 filled the next two spots on the combined time sheets with fast laps of 2:31.222 (88.082 mph) and 2:32.154 (87.542 mph), respectively.
While the top three in time are returning for their second season in the series, rookie Patrick Gallagher filled the fourth spot in the No. 28 CJ Wilson Racing/CJ Wilson Mazda MX-5. Gallagher moves to the MX-5 Cup after winning the Mazda Club Racer Shootout following his SCCA Formula Enterprises National Championship in 2012.
The 20-year-old Gallagher posted a time – 2:32.275 (87.473 mph) – just quicker than his 18-year-old teammate and race winner in 2012, Elliott Skeer, in the No. 17 CJ Wilson Racing MX-5. Skeer's 2:32.609 (87.281 mph) was good for fifth place over the two days.
2012 runner-up Ara Malkhassian's No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5 led a trio of ALARA Racing cars in the next three spots. Following Malkhassian was series rookie Bryan Hixon, entering the series fresh off a Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Series championship a season ago. Brent Mosing's No. 10 ALARA Racing/Frank's International MX-5 sat eighth overall.
Relative newcomers to the MX-5 Cup, Windsor Customs had three cars at the test. The team competed in a handful of races in 2012, with an eye on a full season effort this season. Brothers Forrest and Sebastian Landy and team principal Chris Windsor got an assist from four-time Pirelli World Challenge race winner Aaron Povoledo to help develop the cars.
Emilee Tominovich also made her return to the series following her rookie performance a season ago. Once again, the driver of the No. 19 TrueCar MX-5 will team with Skeer, joined by Gallagher, for CJ Wilson Racing.
Lucas Bize was the quickest driver testing the Skip Barber Pro Series cars, which run concurrently with the MX-5 Cup throughout the season.