SALINAS, Calif. – History repeated itself for a third time on Sunday, when Freedom Autosport finished first and second in the ST class during the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This is the third consecutive year that the team has been 1-2 at Mazda Raceway, and the fourth time they have put two Mazda MX-5s on the podium.
Andrew Carbonell and Rhett O’Doski took the ST win in the No. 26 Mazda MX-5 with teammates Tom Long and Derek Whitis claiming second in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5.
“The last few laps were really exciting,” says Carbonell. “On the last restart, one of the GS cars ahead of me missed a gear on the exit of turn 11, and I got stuck behind him. I went from second to fourth with two laps to go. After that it was all or nothing. I made it up to second on the last lap and passed for the lead in turn six.”
“Every time we come to Mazda Raceway, it’s the most exciting point of the season for us,” says Long. “The Mazda MX-5 was a superior car at Mazda’s home track, and we couldn’t be more excited with our results. All weekend the Freedom Autosport crew did a flawless job, and their hard work showed in practice, qualifying and the race.”
“To get another double podium here at Mazda’s home track is just amazing,” says O’Doski. “Everyone fought hard for this, and we can’t say enough about the tireless work that the Freedom Autosport crew has put in this season.”
Freedom Autosport dominated qualifying. Whitis put the No. 25 on the pole with a time of 1:40.771. During the final lap of qualifying, Joel Miller claimed the outside pole in the No. 27 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 that he was co-driving with Brad Rampelberg.
Both Whitis and Miller led during their stints, and later in the race, Long and Carbonell took turns up front. During 2.5 hours of racing, all three Freedom Autosport Mazdas held the lead, and the team led the most laps in the ST class.
“What makes this finish even sweeter is that we were able to do it with the friends and family of Marine Corps Cpl. Christopher Singer cheering us on,” says Whitis. “This year, we have been honoring Cpl. Singer and his sacrifice with his name and photo on our Mazda MX-5s, and it meant a lot to us to share our victory with those who were closest to him.”