Malkhassian Tops MX-5 Cup Final Practice at Mazda Raceway MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 17, 2008) -- Sonoma's Ara Malkhassian lead a pack of three Californians at the top of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup practice times at Mazda Raceway...
Malkhassian Tops MX-5 Cup Final Practice at Mazda Raceway
MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 17, 2008) -- Sonoma's Ara Malkhassian lead a pack of three Californians at the top of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup practice times at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Brad Rampelberg, of San Jose, and Christian Franck, of Simi Valley, were second and third fastest respectively in the preparation for Sunday's MX-5 Cup finale, part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships.
Working the draft with his teammate Franck, Malkhassian topped the afternoon practice session with a lap of 1:41.735 (79.194 mph) in the brilliant yellow No. 11 Alara Racing MX-5. The time was also the fastest of the day around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile track.
"The track has gotten rubbered in and is real nice," Malkhassian said. "The cooler air just gave us a better lap time out there. We were changing the setup and I think we've got it nailed at this point."
Malkhassian was relieved to have pinned down a setup on the car in the early evening practice session, with track conditions similar to what the team expects to encounter in qualifying Saturday morning. The Alara Racing team owner is hoping the 20-minute practice session is the prelude to an all-Alara front row on the grid.
"[The track conditions] should be pretty close. If it turns out to be a lot cooler, we'll have to make a little bit of an adjustment, but I think we'll be pretty close to where we are today. The track conditions were kind of iffy yesterday, but this morning was better and this afternoon it was even better than that.
"We're looking to paint the front row yellow Saturday."
Second fastest in the morning practice session as well, Rampelberg improved his time to a 1:41.820 (79.127 mph), but not his position in the No. 14 Hooverspeed/Mazda MX-5.
Teamwork paid off for Franck as well, whose lap of 1:41.866 (79.092 mph) put him third in the afternoon session and third on the day in the No. 16 Alara Racing/Select Painting MX-5.
After leading the morning session, Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., improved his lap time, but dropped down the time sheet, falling to fourth fastest in the No. 56 Hooverspeed/Pancreaticcure.org MX-5. Buras entered a time of 1:41.870 (79.089 mph).
SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT pilot Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., completed the top five in the No. 30 Hale Motorsports/Whelen Motorsports MX-5. Curran's quickest lap was a 1:42.036 (78.960 mph).
Bobby Carter, Mark Jenkins, Robert Michaelian, Eric Foss and Brad McAllister completed the top 10.
Qualifying for the MX-5 Cup finale will take place Saturday at 8 a.m. (PDT). Live timing and lap notes are available at www.mx-5cup.com
-credit: scca pro racing