Matos makes it three in a row with victory at Mid Ohio May 21, 2005. Lexington, Ohio. On the weekend Mazda and the Star Mazda Championship announced a new "Shark" award for the top driver at each race, Raphael Matos, continued his feeding...
Matos makes it three in a row with victory at Mid Ohio
May 21, 2005. Lexington, Ohio. On the weekend Mazda and the Star Mazda Championship announced a new "Shark" award for the top driver at each race, Raphael Matos, continued his feeding frenzy, earning his third victory of the season in Round Three of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear this afternoon at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Matos, from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, led every lap in his Ocean Tomo Racing Mazda for the second time this season enroute to his third consecutive victory.
Joining Matos on the podium were two Andersen Walko Racing drivers, Pablo Donoso, from Santiago, Chile would earn his first podium of the season in his Crystal sponsored Mazda while Robbie Pecorari, from Aston, Pennsylvania, would bring his SAI Hydraulics Mazda home in the final podium position.
Despite missing his engineer and a key crew member, Matos didn't miss a step, topping the charts in every dry session during the weekend. "The Ocean Tomo Racing team continues to give me an excellent car. At the start of the race we were a little loose and as the race progressed it began to push but I was able to make a few adjustments and open a gap to Pablo. I have to dedicate this victory to a couple of people," an excited Matos said on the podium. "At the start of this weekend, David McCollough, one of our crew members who broke both of his arms in an accident while setting up our awning, and our engineer, Rick Cameron, who's father passed away last week and couldn't be with us this weekend."
Donoso also had an exceptional weekend, the series rookie qualifying in the second spot and looking for any opportunity to knock Matos of the top spot, but couldn't find a way past. "We keep getting closer to the front every weekend but we have a little bit more to go," Donoso explained. "I looked inside of Raphael once early in the race but he was able to hold me off and his car was working perfectly today. I'm looking for that first win though."
In rounding out the podium, Pecorari, another series rookie, was pleased to score his first podium but hungry for more. "We still have some work today but each weekend we're closing in on the front," Pecorari explained. "Everyone at Andersen Walko racing does an excellent job and I'm able to work some good teammates that all want to get to the front. At the start of the race I was able to move up a few spots on the inside and then I worked with my teammate Graham Rahal to try to keep moving up. When Graham spun I was able to move into third behind Donoso."
Finishing just off of the podium for his best finish of the season was MJ Motorsports driver Marco Andretti in his Vonage sponsored Mazda. Marco, who qualified sixth was able to move up two positions but frustrated in his efforts to score his first podium. "The car fell off early and never really came back in which can be frustrating," Andretti commented. "I fell out of the lead draft and at that point you have to keep an eye in the mirror."
Completing the top five was AIM Autosports driver Mark Wilkins in the Trizec Canada Mazda. Wilkins from Toronto, Canada, was looking for a strong result heading into the first Canadian race of the season and was happy for the top five finish. "With the starting grid at Montreal being determined by the series points standings it was important to finish well today, especially after the results at Road Atlanta," Wilkins said. "Today's results will move me a little bit farther up the grid and racing in front of my countrymen, on a track that I have raced on several times, should also give me a boost as well."
The 30 lap event was interrupted by two caution periods for a total of seven laps. The first caution period covered laps 2 through four, to remove John Lloyd's damaged Mazda to a safe position and the final four laps would be run under the caution flag when Brian Thienes' Hearn Motorsports Mazda was involved in an incident that left his car on it's side. Both drivers would walk away from their incidents unharmed.
After three rounds Matos leads the championship with 134 points ahead of Scott Jenkins with 95 points and Pecorari with 94 points. In Expert Series competition, for drivers between the ages of 30-44, Micky Gilbert has the lead with 56 points, while Mike Anderson sits in second with 42 points. In the Masters Series, for drivers aged 45 and older, Doug Peterson won the class ahead of John Pew but Pew maintains the points lead with 56 points to Petersons 40 points.
The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will now travel to the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal, Canada, for Round Four of the championship on June 10-11 as part of the Formula One Grand Prix of Canada activities. Round Three from Mid-Ohio will be televised on Speed Channel on June 5th at 1:00 PM Eastern Time.