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Road America Pro Mazda: Martin wins, Franzoni stars

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Road America Pro Mazda: Martin wins, Franzoni stars
By:
Jun 24, 2017, 7:50 PM

Cape Motorsports’ Anthony Martin scored his third win of the season but only after holding back the resurgent Victor Franzoni who drove from 15th on the grid to claim second for Juncos Racing.

Anthony Martin led the trio of Pelfrey drivers – TJ Fischer, Carlos Cunha and Nikita Lastochkin – from the drop of the green flag but all eyes were on championship leader Franzoni whose qualifying runs for this race had been interrupted by red flags, consigning him to the back of the grid.

The Brazilian went from 15th to eighth on the first lap, and came past in sixth on Lap 2. He then passed World Speed Motorsports’ Sting Ray Robb for fifth on Lap 3, and his fortune continued to look favorable as, up ahead, Lastochkin and Cunha were wasting each other’s time battling hard and running side by side. Amazingly, Franzoni picked them off in successive corners on Lap 4.

He now had 5.5sec to make up to reach Martin and Fischer who were running just 0.6sec apart, but Franzoni didn’t need to use up his tires going flat-out to catch them; a full-course yellow flew on Lap 4 when Brendan Puderbach dropped his FatBoy Racing car at the final turn and got buried in the sandtrap.

The restart at the start of Lap 7, with 12mins remaining, saw Franzoni get around the outside of Fischer and immediately the championship leader started haunting Martin and even tried to look around the outside of the leader at Turn 12. But further down the field Bob Kaminsky spun his National Class self-entered car and damaged it, and another full-course caution was inevitable. Sadly Fischer fell to the tail of the field under yellow, promoting teammate Cunha to third.

The Lap 8 restart saw Martin get a good jump on Franzoni but the Juncos car was back with him on the outside at Turn 5, and Martin ran him wide. Cunha tried to take advantage to grab second at Turn 6, but Franzoni legitimately closed the door.

Yet another full-course caution flew for a spinning backmarker, reducing the Martin vs. Franzoni battle to a one-lap shootout. Australia continued to lead Brazil into Turn 5, but Franzoni made a better exit and Martin had to make his car very wide up the hill for Turn 6. For the remainder of the lap, Martin held firm and protected the inside line, held back Franzoni and crossed the line 0.18sec ahead.

Lastochkin passed teammate Cunha on the final lap to grab the final spot on the podium, with Robb and Jeff Green filling out the top six.

 

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