MX-5: Series round nine preview

The SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup will make its third visit to Mosport this weekend with a championship battle hanging in the balance. This year's championship may hinge on who is the best at the 50-year-old circuit, as the stop is...

The SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup will make its third visit to Mosport this weekend with a championship battle hanging in the balance.

This year's championship may hinge on who is the best at the 50-year-old circuit, as the stop is Round Nine of 11 in this year's championship. While a number of drivers are still mathematically eligible for the title, it's really now a three-man race between Justin Piscitell in the No. 89 Team MER/DAMG Worldwide Mazda MX-5, Michael Cooper in the No. 84 AMG Racing/Bromante Landscaping and Design MX-5 and Brad Rampelberg in the No. 4 AMG Racing/Mazda/Cobalt Brakes MX-5.

Looking at the current standings, Piscitell leads Cooper by just seven points and Rampelberg by 12 with three races to go. However, the MX-5 Cup Series gives each driver what amounts to a mulligan for a poor race, allowing every driver to drop their lowest-point scoring race.

Rampelberg, who has won four times, was punted out of the lead and finished 17th place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Cooper finished sixth in the same race, with Piscitell's worst finish a fourth at New Jersey Motorsports Park. When the points for each of those races are deducted, Rampelberg leads by 12 over Piscitell, with Cooper 15 behind the top spot.

Lurking behind the leaders is a group of drivers gunning for the fourth position in the final standings, along with a win or two along the way. Jesse Combs is currently fourth in the championship with 368 points, driving the No. 77 ALARA Racing/coolgas.com MX-5. Six points behind Combs is Nick Evans, who after top-four finishes in four of the last five events seem poised for a win in the No. 28 Mazda/Team MER/Sparco Mazda MX-5. Mark Carpenter, driving the No. 14 AMG/GGS Technical Publications MX-5, is just 16 points out of the fourth position in his first season of professional racing.

A pair of ALARA Racing teammates are also in the mix and have driven to top finishes on fast layouts like Mosport in the past. Ara Malkhassian, in the No. 11 ALARA Racing/Bulldog Productions MX-5, and Lyonel Kent, in the No. 13 ALARA Racing/Bulldog Productions MX-5, are among the contenders for a late-season win. Kent won once early in the season, at Road Atlanta.

Jeff Mosing (No. 30 Frank's International/RaceNowForAutism MX-5), Kristine Craine (No. 39 Pinktop Racing MX-5), and Tim Probert (No. 26 ALARA Racing MX-5) are all battling to stay inside the top-10 in championship points as the season winds down.

The beauty of running a spec-series is that driver talent really has a chance to shine through. In MX-5 Cup, however, the additional alluring aspect is the car; the nimble, dependable and undeniably fun Mazda MX-5.

Mechanically, all MX-5 Cup cars will remain essentially stock, as delivered from the dealer, with only bolt-on modifications to the intake and exhaust systems. While the stock MX-5 Miata produces 170 hp, an MX-5 Cup car will produce in excess of 200 hp. All MX-5 Cup vehicles will be equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and may be run with the optionally available limited-slip rear differential.

Suspension will incorporate a fully-adjustable coil-over kit with double-adjustable shock absorbers and specified spring rates, as well as adjustable anti-roll bars front and rear. All cars will run a 17x8" wheel of a specified weight -- again, to level the field and minimize costs, as well as the spec BFGoodrich g-Force R1 Tire. Additionally, brake pads, fluid and lines will be upgraded to racing components.

All MX-5 Cup cars will run with full safety equipment, including an eight-point roll-cage welded into the car, a racing seat, racing seatbelts and will incorporate a fire-extinguishing system.

As always, all components for the cars will be sold directly through MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development, which also supports the program monetarily with contingency awards to successful drivers.

-source: scca pro racing

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Series SCCA
Drivers Nick Evans , Brad Rampelberg , Ara Malkhassian , Tim Probert , Jesse Combs , Jeff Mosing , Lyonel Kent