Kanavas Scores Top-15 Touring Car Finish At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Monterey, Ca (10.17.05): Johnny Kanavas and the Tindol Motorsports Touring Car team made up 11 spots to finish 15th in the finale round of the SPEED World Challenge Touring...
Kanavas Scores Top-15 Touring Car Finish At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Monterey, Ca (10.17.05): Johnny Kanavas and the Tindol Motorsports Touring Car team made up 11 spots to finish 15th in the finale round of the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Mazda was serious in searching for their first ever, SPEED World Challenge championship, with Tindol Motorsports enetering five cars to help the cause. Charles Espenlaub, Ken Dobson, Johnny Kanavas, David MacDonald and Randy Hale were to pilot the squadrant of green and white Mazdas.
This Was Kanavas' first SPEED World Challenge race and Thursday was the first time Kanavas sat in the #95 Oakley, Sparco, eprodius.com Mazda Protege. As the day wore on, Johnny became more comfortable with the car. Friday morning proved to be a bit frustrating for Kanavas and the crew as Johnny faced handling problems with the #95 machine. "I couldn't get power down. The front wheels just had no grip. Plus, we were having brake lock-up problems with the rear as well." commented Kanavas. Working with teammate, and Round-10 winner, Charles Espenlaub and his crew, Johnny decided to make a big change to the setup of his car, which was a big gamble. The gamble paid off as Kanavas went out for the Friday afternoon session and knocked almost 1.5 seconds off his lap times and felt much more comfortable in the car.
Conditions for Saturday's qualifying session started out with a wet course from some overnight rain. Luckily for the Touring Car guys, there would be two other race groups prior to their qualifying session, which would help dry the track out. As the 38-car field hit the now dry circuit, the Tindol Motorsports squad took the track. On his third lap, which was to be his "flyer", Kanavas missed a 3rd gear shift coming out of the "Corkscrew" corner, which ultimately threw that lap away. With time running out, Johnny ran one more hot lap, now dealing with a little traffic, but managed to put together a decent run. The #95 team would line up 26th (of 38) for the start of the Round 11.
As the red lights went out, signaling the start of this finale round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Kanavas faced heavy wheelspin with his front-wheel-drive Mazda, losing a couple spots immediately. As the 38-car field headed into the Andretti Hairpin, Johnny stuck the nose of the #95 machine right in the middle of things, making up some of the lost spots. Kanavas tucked behind teammate, David MacDonald, in the #92 Mazda Protege who was in the 20th position. In only the fifth lap of the race, Johnny's Mazda turned sideways through the very fast turn-9, while fellow racer and friend, Scott Bradley, in the Circuit City Mazda 6, attempted to capitalize on Kanavas' misfortunes. Fortunately, Kanavas was able to gather the car up quickly and remain in front of Bradley. Now hot on the tail of the #93 Dodge SRT-4 of Rick Snyder, MacDonald and Kanavas pressured the gray Dodge for several laps. Snyder went a bit deep into turn-2, which opened the door for MacDonald. As the #92 slid under Snyder, Kanavas filled the Dodge's mirrors with more green and white. The two ran nose to tail for several exciting laps.
"Snyder was very quick in a straight line, under power, but I could gather him up in the corners and braking zones. I would out brake him into turn-2,8,10 & 11 lap after lap and he would just pull away under power. Those were some fun laps." , reported Kanavas. This battling allowed the #88 Honda of Andrie Hartanto to catch Johnny's back bumper. Coming into the Andretti Hairpin, Hartanto tried to late-brake Kanavas and tuck to the inside for a pass. Johnny did not give up and the two ran side-by-side through turns-2 and 3. Unfortunately, in turn-3, The Honda dropped two wheels off on the outside of the corner, in the dirt and as the car regained traction, shot hard to the right, making contact with Kanavas' Mazda, turning him sideways.
Kanavas quickly saved the car, held the position and managed to keep off the now persuing BMW of Jim Osborn who was all over the back of the #95 car. As Johnny defended his position, the two caught back up to the #93 Dodge of Snyder. With less than 5 laps to go, Kanavas knew he had to make a move on Snyder or lose a position to Osbourn's BMW. After working the back of the #93 for many laps, Kanavas setup his pass, with less than 5 laps left. Johnny made a late braking maneuver on the Dodge as they entered turn-11. Kanavas held the position only to the start/finish line on the main straight, where Snyder swept back under the Mazda. Kanavas fought back and tucked back to the inside of Snyder entering turn-2. The #95 and #93 ran side by side through the next few corners. Johnny was finally able to open a gap through turn-6. As Brian Mezger, came over the radio to report only 3 laps left, Kanavas concentrated on smooth driving as he now had about a 5-car length gap on both Snyder and Osbourn and was now running in the 15 position.
Johnny held on through the end of the race to bring home the top-15 finish, on the lead lap, in his first ever outing in the extremely exciting SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Series. His teammate's finishing spots were: Charles Espenlaub in 11th, MacDonald in 14th, Ken Dobson in 20th and Randy Hale in 26th. Mazda did not win the championship. Unfortunately, two of the Tri-Point Mazda's, that were fighting in the top-5 suffered mechanical troubles, ultimately taking Mazda out of the fight.
Johnny Kanavas is very proud to have made his successful SPEED World Challenge debut with the extremely professional Tindol Motorsports team. The KanavasKompetition.com camp hope to return to the series in 2006. Special thanks go out to Tindol Motorsports, Oakley, Sparco, eprodius.com, Mazda and all the family, friends, and fans for their continued support in 2005.