MX-5: Portland race notes

Rampelberg Scores First MX-5 Cup Victory at Portland PORTLAND, Ore. (July 27, 2008) -- Brad Rampelberg, of San Jose, Calif., captured his first SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup victory in Round Three at Portland International Raceway,...

Rampelberg Scores First MX-5 Cup Victory at Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 27, 2008) -- Brad Rampelberg, of San Jose, Calif., captured his first SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup victory in Round Three at Portland International Raceway, part of the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland. His Hooverspeed teammate Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., finished second, followed by Eric Foss, of Fort Worth, Texas, in third.

Starting second, Rampelberg immediately charged for the lead at the drop of the green flag, but was held off by polesitter Caddell. The move lost Rampelberg enough momentum in the No. 14 Hooverspeed/Mazda/Patron Tequila MX-5 to give Christian Franck, of Simi Valley, Calif., an opportunity to take over second place.

Rampelberg bided his time in third, watching Franck and Caddell dice for the lead, but still eyeing his mirrors for a charging Buras. On lap four, Franck ran wide in Turn Four, handing the runner-up spot back to Rampelberg and on the following lap the 2007 SCCA Spec Miata National Champion drafted past Caddell for the lead.

After several attempts by Caddell in the No. 30 Hooverspeed/Victory Lane Data MX-5 to retake the spot, the defending race winner finally got the job done on lap nine, diving to the inside before Turn One.

Rampelberg continued to use the draft to pressure Caddell on the front and back straightaways, but it wasn't until lap 19 that Rampelberg was able to work his way back around his teammate and into the lead. Buras did make a successful bid for the lead on the back stretch on lap 23, but Rampelberg retook the position immediately. From that point, Rampelberg received no more serious threats for the lead and crossed the finish line 0.254-second ahead of Buras, averaging 80.517 mph in the 31-lap, 61.287-mile race.

"This feels awesome!" Rampelberg said. "I knew we were going to have to break that duck and win one of these races soon. We left Mosport, knew we were a little bit behind and just did a bunch of testing. This is the first time we've come to a track that I've been to before and it was really just awesome. I've got some great teammates that have helped all weekend. I have to thank Jason from Hooverspeed, Victory Lane Data and Patron. Patron is the number one tequila and Hooverspeed is the number one team."

Part of the Mazdaspeed Driver Development Ladder, Rampelberg was the winner of the 2008 MX-5 Cup shootout, which awarded an MX-5 Cup car, parts and tires to a Mazda amateur racer. Getting his first win at the Mazda Grand Prix, was the perfect way for Rampelberg to show his gratitude.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of the Mazda ladder program, come to Portland for the Mazda Grand Prix and show Mazda that they made the right choice in selecting me," Rampelberg added.

Starting seventh, Buras made an inspired run to finish second in the No. 56 Hooverspeed/Pancreaticcure.org MX-5.

"I got a great start," Buras said. "I had a great view of the green flag and I was holding the brake, flooring it and let it go. I got a great run on Ara [Malkhassian] and got up to fifth place."

Buras also got around the No. 81 Team MER/Airco Mechanical MX-5 of Ryan Schimsk, from Austin, Texas, in the opening lap, putting him fourth by the time he returned to the start/finish line. After a lengthy battle with Franck, Buras was up to third on lap 10, right behind his Hooverspeed teammates. After diving to the inside of Caddell in Turn One and grabbing second place on lap 23, Buras did make a bid for the lead, but was unable to keep Rampelberg behind him. At a track where his previous best finish was eighth, Buras was content with the runner-up finish.

"The car was absolutely brilliant," Buras said. "Hooverspeed put together a great car today. I've been struggling all weekend at this track, it's just not my kind of track, and Hooverspeed put it together for me. I've got some great teammates that talked me through it a lot. When I started to give up a little bit, they'd calm me back down and here we go -- second place finish. I've got to thank pancreaticcure.org, we've got a great contest going on there that everyone should check out, and thanks to Hooverspeed and my teammates Brad and Andrew."

Crossing the finish line third behind his Hooverspeed teammates, Caddell was later disqualified when his car was found to be out of compliance in post-race technical inspection. This promoted current point leader Foss, of Fort Worth, Texas, to third.

The No. 28 Team MER/Autobarn Mazda MX-5 driver sliced his way through the field from 10th and nearly had a run at Caddell in the closing laps. In addition to collecting his third consecutive podium finish, Foss also clocked the fastest lap of the race, a 1:27.447 (81.388 mph), to win the Hawk Hot Lap award. The time is a new race lap record for MX-5 at PIR.

With the win, Rampelberg has now moved to second in the point standings with 167 points to Eric Foss' 176. Buras is third with 163 points.

Winner of the most recent round at Mosport, Robert Huffmaster, of Clarkston, Mich., finished seventh on the track in the No. 27 Team MER/Huffmaster Co. MX-5, but was promoted to fourth following several post-race penalties.

Robert Michaelian, of Seal Beach, Calif., was also moved up in the order after the race to fifth, his best finish of the season in the No. 19 Hooverspeed MX-5.

While he did lead a lap early in the race, a bobble on lap nine sent Franck back to ninth. After gathering himself back up in the No. 16 Alara Racing/Select Painting MX-5, Franck was able to charge back through the field to fifth, but was penalized two positions for an incident with Shimsk. Caddell's disqualification moved Franck back up a position to sixth.

Neal Sapp ended the day a career-best seventh, while Schimsk would be shown in eighth, following a three position penalty for his part in the incident with Franck.

Steve Welk and Elivan Goulart completed the top 10.

"Fast Guys, Rich Guys and Idiots" author Sam Moses was victorious in the battle of the writers, finishing 20th. "The Art of Racing in the Rain" author Garth Stein finished 23rd.

The MX-5 Cup race from Portland will air on DIRECTV, Dish Network and regional cable networks the week of August 18. Check www.mx-5cup.com for show times. The race will also be posted to the MX-5 Cup channel on You Tube, available at www.youtube.com/MazdaMX5Cup.

Round Four of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup travels to Elkhart Lake, Wis., and beautiful Road America for the Road Race Showcase.

-credit: scca pro racing

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Elivan Goulart , Steve Welk , Brad Rampelberg , Todd Buras , Christian Franck , Eric Foss