Derek Whitis and Tom Long won the race in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5. Rhett O’Doski and Andrew Carbonell followed them in second.
LEEDS, Ala.—Saturday’s GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Barber Motorsports Park was a memorable one for Freedom Autosport, who finished first and second in the Street Tuner class.
Whitis started the race second and held down a top-three position during his stint. The No. 25 Mazda was among the first ST entries to make a regular pit stop, but the strategy played out perfectly: after the ST class had cycled through pit stops, the No. 25 was at the front with Long behind the wheel. Long was able to hold onto the top spot until the checkered flag came out at the end of the 2.5-hour race.
O’Doski and Carbonell had to put up more of a fight to earn their second-place finish. O’Doski worked his way into the top ten during his opening stint, then Carbonell continued the charge, working his way through the field as the clock counted down.
The win marks the second podium finish in a row for Whitis and Long, who finished second at Circuit of the Americas last month. Despite some bad luck at Barber last year, they knew that the tight 2.3-mile Barber circuit would be a good fit for the MX-5.
“The Continental tires and Mazda MX-5s were truly the perfect combination in what was a flawless weekend for Freedom Autosport at Barber Motorsports Park. The entire Freedom team did an amazing job with the cars from the minute they showed up,” says Whitis.
“The Freedom Autosport team has worked so hard to get to this point,” says Long. “Our MX-5s were strong and reliable right off the truck. To have Freedom Autosport finish one-two, and Mazdas finish in the top three is as exciting as it gets for us, and we’re happy about getting this points boost as we head into a new track next week.”
After three years of bad luck resulting in DNFs, Carbonell was happy to see the checkered flag at Barber. He says, “Our cars were so good with the Continental tires. We just had to keep a consistent pace and stay patient—we couldn’t make any mistakes. Once I got up to the top four, it was really equally matched, so pushing from fourth to second became a real battle.”
Carbonell and O’Doski matched their best Barber finish to date after taking second in 2009. “We’ve always had a great car for Barber, and it’s one of the best circuits for the MX-5, so it feels great to finally show that in the results,” says O’Doski. “We really have to capitalize on points at tracks like this.”