Kanavas/Neilson combo takes 2nd place at Buttonwillow 4-hour Buttonwillow, CA (11.19.06): Johnny Kanavas and teammate Sean Neilson finished 2nd in the E3 class of the Buttonwillow 4-hour enduro race this past Sunday at Buttonwillow Raceway ...
Kanavas/Neilson combo takes 2nd place at Buttonwillow 4-hour
Buttonwillow, CA (11.19.06): Johnny Kanavas and teammate Sean Neilson finished 2nd in the E3 class of the Buttonwillow 4-hour enduro race this past Sunday at Buttonwillow Raceway Park.
After making some setup changes to the car during Saturday's test sessions, the team dialed the bright orange Mazda in for the afternoon qualifying session. Kanavas ran only 3 laps in qualifying putting the car in the 5th starting position for the race. "The goal was to just go out, lay down a decent lap and then let Sean [Neilson] take the car out to get familiar with it. The start is Le Mans-style and we figure we can make up some spots when the green drops." Reported Crew Chief, Brian Mezger. At the end of the day, the team was very pleased with the performance of the eprodius.com/KanavasKompetition.com Mazda and proceeded to begin to prepare for the race.
Sunday morning was foggy and wet, leaving the drivers with a damp track for the start of the 4-hour race. Preparing for the Le Mans-style start, Neilson would run across the track to tag his co-driver, Johnny, who would fire up the engine and take off down the front straight. The #03 car made a strong start and jumped up to 3rd place in class, passing several cars as the green flag flew. Kanavas had a smooth and incident-free run during his first stint. Keeping the #03 car in 3rd place, Johnny pitted at the 75-minute mark to hand the car over to Neilson for what would be a 90-minute stint. The pit crew of Brian Mezger, John Kanavas Sr. and John Neilson performed a near perfect stop, fueling and getting Sean into the car quickly. Neilson took to the now dry track and began what would be another smooth and incident-free run. Sean took over 3rd place about ¾ of the way through his stint, after running both in both the 2nd and 4th position. Just under the 3-hour mark, Neilson pitted to hand the car over to Kanavas and the crew made another smooth pitstop, sending Johnny back on track to finish up the race.
Kanavas re-entered the race still in 3rd place, with 2 laps over the 4th place car. With about 45 minutes left to go, the 2nd place #4 Pro-7 car, driven by Chuck Koos and Marcelo Vine, was forced to come in to change a tire. This handed the KanavasKompetition.com/eprodius.com entry the 2nd place position behind the #45 Mazda driven by Drew Staveley, Nathan Swartzbaugh, and John Stott. Kanavas turned up the wick and ran laps faster than they did in qualifying through most of the end of the race. The #03 car kept a steady distance of about 20-25 seconds over the eventual 3rd place #4, once they returned to the track with a new tire. The team, once again, faced a clean and incident-free final stint, with Johnny bringing the car home in 2nd place. "The car was near perfect the entire race. Sean [Neilson] put on an awesome performance today during his stint and the crew orchestrated the stops flawlessly. We are thrilled to have finished 2nd today.", reported Johnny Kanavas.
The KanavasKompetition.com/eprodius.com team want to thank eprodius.com, Image Comm, Tiller Tech and all the Cal Club staff and workers for helping make this event a success.
Next up is the 25 Hours of Thunderhill (Dec. 1-3), where Johnny Kanavas returns for his 4th assault on the "Severe Endurance Race" that runs twice around the clock. Kanavas will contest the race in a Mazda MX-5 Cup car for the 2nd year in a row.