Hearn Motorsports Road Atlanta race notes

Hearn Motorsports Knocked from top-Ten at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., September 24, 2004 -- Hearn Motorsports neared its first visit into the top-five of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear here today at Road...

Hearn Motorsports Knocked from top-Ten at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga., September 24, 2004 -- Hearn Motorsports neared its first visit into the top-five of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship presented by Goodyear here today at Road Atlanta. However, as Raphael Matos, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, ran solidly in the top-ten with the No. 70 Showtime/ Samsung/ Skip Barber Racing School Mazda he was rear-ended with just one turn remaining in the 45-minute race. The accident dropped him to a 17th-place finish. The disappointing finish broke a streak of podium finishes for the Richie Hearn-owned team. Brian Thienes carried the Hearn Motorsports' banner highest in today's race. The Huntington Beach, California-resident finished 13th moving into the Masters' Class points lead.

Today's Road Atlanta round of the Star Mazda Series can be seen on SPEED, at noon (EDT), October 10. The next round of the 2004 championship is the only oval event of the 2004 season and will be held on October 2nd at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.

No. 70 Showtime/ Samsung/ Skip Barber Mazda, qualified: 7th, finished: 17th -- Matos again showed why Richie Hearn picked the young Brazilian to run for his rookie team. While the weekend was not what the team had hoped for entering their seventh Star Mazda event, Matos was making his way towards another top-five finish when his day came to an end. A fifth-place would have moved the No. 70 to fifth in the season-long point standings with two races remaining. However, as Matos drove within less than a half-mile of the checkered flag, he was struck from behind entering the braking-zone for turn 10A on the last lap. The Showtime/ Samsung/ Skip Barber entry had extensive rear suspension damage spinning the car into the gravel trap and out of the race. Matos was unhurt in the incident and the car is repairable for next week's oval race at Phoenix.

Richie Hearn: "It wasn't the weekend we thought we were going to have. I think we struggled a little overall during the course of the week. It just wasn't there. A sixth-place finish would have helped us out but we got taken out on the last corner of the last lap. It wasn't a very good finish for an average weekend. No one is happy right now. The car isn't that bad. It's money and work but it's not devastating and we'll start again next Friday."

Raphael Matos: "After a great weekend at Road America I am very disappointed. We struggled a little bit in qualifying. We made some changes and the car was pretty good during the race. We didn't have the best car this weekend so the plan was just to finish the race and get some points. Unfortunately, on the last turn of the last lap some driver just ran over me. It was just bad luck and we're just looking forward to Phoenix and Laguna Seca."

No. 77 Thienes Engineering Mazda, qualified: 18th, finished: 13th -- Brian Thienes had an accident early in the week of practice for Road Atlanta setting back the No. 77 Thienes Engineering Mazda. However, Thienes rallied with a strong run in the race gaining five positions and the led in the Masters' class of the Star Mazda Series. Thienes' performance in today's race puts the No. 77 on an upswing going to the Phoenix oval. Hearn expects the oval race to be an excellent event for Thienes who competed there in 2003.

Richie Hearn: "Brian ended-up well. Almost the opposite of the 70 [car]. He had a tough week; had a few wrecks and wasn't very happy a few times. But he ran a decent race and kept his nose clean. He's running for the Masters' Championship and I think he won that class for this race and moved-up in the points. I think it is important for the team."

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.

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Richie Hearn , Skip Barber , Brian Thienes