Matos' Late Race Pass Gives Hearn Second at Road America ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 21, 2004 -- Hearn Motorsports continued its move up the Star Mazda North American Championship podium today bringing home a second-place at Road America....
Matos' Late Race Pass Gives Hearn Second at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 21, 2004 -- Hearn Motorsports continued its move up the Star Mazda North American Championship podium today bringing home a second-place at Road America. Raphael Matos, of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, made a dramatic late race pass to move from third to second after an exciting nose-to-tail battle with Daniel Di Leo. Matos drove the Richie Hearn-owned No. 70 Showtime/ Samsung/ Skip Barber Racing Schools Mazda to second, his second podium in as many races. Adding to the success of the day was Hearn's second entry, the No. 77 Thienes Engineering Star Mazda of Brian Thienes. Thienes, of Huntington Beach, Calif. finished 15th in his third race with the Las Vegas-based team. Today's 45-minute race on the 4.048-mile facility continued the open-wheel racing standout's race-by-race objectives for his rookie team.
Today's Star Mazda race can be seen on SPEED on September 19th at 2 pm (EDT). Next, Hearn Motorsports will head to another of America's most famous road courses, Road Atlanta on September 24th.
No. 70 Showtime/ Samsung/ Skip Barber Mazda, qualified: 4th, finished: 2nd -- Matos again showed that he is among the fastest drivers in the Star Mazda Series by running at the front of the pack in each session at Road America. Matos qualified fourth and ran third much of the race. The 2003 Formula Dodge National champion kept constant pressure on the second-place running Daniel Di Leo throughout the race. The pressure eventually forced Di Leo, the present point leader, to brake too late into the fifth corner of the 12-turn track with a lap and a half to go. Matos slipped through but, having been held by Di Leo for so long, was not able to chase-down eventual race winner Michael McDowell despite a gallant effort. The second is Hearn Motorsports' highest finish of its first season in Star Mazda. It is also Matos' high-water mark to this point in his rookie season.
Richie Hearn: "It was an awesome race for both our cars, the 70 and the 77. We were a little disappointed in the qualifying effort with Rafa (Matos) after the performance in practice yesterday. But we knew we had a car that could run up front. He did a good job. He drove a mature race. He just kept pushing them and pushing them and Di Leo made a mistake with a lap and a half to go. Raphael got by him and held him off so we are very happy with the day. Di Leo was making it hard. I was a little nervous watching that. But, Rafa did his fastest lap at the end of the race which shows he really took care of his tires and I think that paid off."
Raphael Matos: "It was unbelievable to race with those guys McDowell and Di Leo. My car was working really good, especially on hot tires. I had really good runs trying to pass Dan [Di Leo] going into turn-one. I finally passed him into turn-five. I think he broke a little bit too deep and I had a really good run on the exit. Unfortunately, it took me too long to pass him and McDowell was able to get me by a second and a half. I had a lot of exciting moments today. Every time I went to make my move on Dan was very hard. He was defending his position just perfect. I made my move because he made a mistake, I was putting a lot of pressure on him. Hearn Motorsports has been giving me a great car all weekend. I want to thank all of the supporters: Showtime, Samsung, Skip Barber Racing School and Tropical Commodities and the Hearn Motorsports' team."
No. 77 Thienes Engineering Mazda, qualified: 20th, finished: 15th -- Brian Thienes, competing is his second year of Star Mazda, was handicapped by a shortened qualifying session early this morning. The No. 77, qualifying in the second group of cars, had their time on the cool, morning track dramatically slashed making it difficult to get the proper heat in the Goodyear tires. Without ample time to warm his tires, Thienes' qualifying times suffered. None-the-less, he ran second in his qualifying group, good for 20th overall. Getting a strong start, and through good racecraft, Thienes, in only his third race with Hearn Motorsports, gained five positions to close the day 15th. The top-15 finish added valuable points moving the No. 77 closer to the top-ten point position that Hearn foresees for the Californian by season's end.
Richie Hearn: "Brian, unfortunately, kind of got shafted. The second group only got ten minutes instead of 20 and that only gave him four timed laps. And that is pretty hard to get up to speed at 8 o'clock in the morning. So he qualified 20th. We had to change the clutch in his car just before the race and that didn't help him. But, it was a solid race for him. We are able to roll both cars on to the trailer and we are really happy with that. We'll go test at Phoenix in a week-and-half, and then head to Road Atlanta."
For more on Hearn Motorsports and its 2004 Pro Formula Mazda Series' effort please visit www.richiehearn.com. To learn about Raphael Matos, visit his bilingual site at www.rafamatos.com. More on Brian Thienes can be found at www.thieneseng.com. For information on the Star Mazda Series, please visit www.starmazda.com.