Rayhall revels in Mid-Ohio racing tradition and glory

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..notes from the EDJE's Edmund Jenks spoke to Sean Rayhall after the races at of Mid-Ohio.

His first time at taking to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in anger gave the young driver with the familiar sounding name ... especially here, very familiar results.

The road course at Mid-Ohio will always be linked in motor culture lore as the home turf of the Rahal racing family, and more clearly, Bobby Rahal.

Bobby Rahal and his father, Mike, visited the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for its first-ever race in 1962, and throughout his motorsports career Rahal has been tied to the track and its former owner Jim Trueman.

In addition to other series, Rahal competed in 16 Indy car races on the road course, earning victories in 1985 and 1986 - on his way to the CART championship, six other podium finishes, and pole starts in 1983 and 1985.

Bobby Rahal, in a 2012 interview to IndyCar.com said, "In 1987, I made a mistake and tried to pass a guy I was lapping and he came down on me and flattened the tire with a few laps to go and (Roberto) Guerrero won instead and I had been well in the lead."

Sean Rayhall, for his first time experience, also contended with moves that may be common for the track layout at Mid-Ohio with its elevation changes, corner-leading-to-corner, and fast sections design.

Through the qualifications, young Rayhall had little trouble with cars 'coming down' on his car in the corners because, after all, this session was only for where one was to start the races for the weekend.

Qualifications for the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda ,at the Diamond Cellar Classic June 14-16, 2013, was interrupted by two RED Flags but through it all Sean Rayhall was able to prevail over his next closest competitor, Ryan Booth by a margin of 0.086 seconds on the 2.258 mile, 13 turn road course. Booth, in car #18, was able to post a fastest lap on LAP 6 of 1:18.530 only to have it eclipsed by Sean on the very next lap at 1:18.444 on LAP 7 of the qualification session. The other competitors in the field were in the 1:20.000's or beyond.

Rayhall, for his part, after the first RED Flag stoppage posted a lap of 1:18.474 on LAP 13, just before the second RED Flag stoppage just to make sure that his car would beat the best qualifying time laid down by the #18 car of Booth's.

Round 5, however, saw the following mechanical event that effected the outcome of the first race of the weekend.

The Diamond Cellar Classic In Round 5 Rough For Rayhall ... After leading for 14 of the eventual 18 laps (timed 30 minute race session), posting the fastest lap time of the race - 1:19.326 (as opposed to the next fastest - 1:19.780), and creating as much as a 4 second lead gap before the first of two YELLOW Flags that led to thirteen minutes of the timed 30 minute race to be run under caution. Sean Rayhall finishes Round 5 in P2 to end up being tied in the points championship at 76 points with #18 Ryan Booth.

In an exclusive post race interview, Sean Rayhall shared what happened on the second restart that led to being passed by car #18 - "Left rear (brake) caliper ceased up. It was completely locked when I stopped in the pit (at race's end), went down off the back-straightway into the braking zone and the car just turned sideways before the corner, saved it from an off, got passed, and wasn't able to achieve over 500 lbs. of brake load without the car coming out from under me. Definitely not the result we were hoping but I salvaged what I could."

So five races into a 14 race season have the points race tied largely explained through two race-time equipment failures on the #14 Comprent Motorsports Elan DP02. The first race of the season netted zero points out of a possible total of 20 for the young Rayhall due to a transmission linkage failure.

Round 6, contested the very next day, Sunday June 16, 2013, Father's Day, saw the kind of move (twice) that had happened to Bobby Rahal late in the race where he lost his bid to 'three-peat' at the famed Mid-Ohio road course when the eventual winner was Roberto Guerrero. In this case, the outcome was dramatically different.

Rayhall Regains Luster in Diamond Cellar Classic Round 6 ... In what could be a bit of deja vu for a race car driver with the same sounding name at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Sean Rayhall survives a car 'coming down' on his car twice in the Round 6 of 14 2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series.

The race went GREEN Flag after the Keyhole Turn 4 which allows the cars to sort themselves out along the back straight through Turn 5. In this case, according to Rayhall in a post race phone conversation, the #18 car of Ryan Booth 'came down' on me, we touched and spun. "I re-entered the track at P15 and was able to make up two positions by the end of the first lap (no YELLOW Flag full course caution).

...notes from The EDJE

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Series IMSA
Article type Commentary
Tags cargon fibibre, endurance, imsa, mid-ohio, prototype lites, rayhall, sportscars