Summit Point, West Virginia (June 16, 2018) – It won’t turn around the entire season just yet, but a home track win had Nick Bruni all smiles on Saturday. The Arlington, Virginia resident captured his first Spec MX-5 Challenge win at Summit Point Raceway, using his local knowledge to stay just in front of the field in the 12-lap race.
“It’s great to get the first win of the season and finally bring one home,” Bruni said. “It’s been a tough season so far, but I’m glad to win at my hometown track. I think Peter Ensor and I really hooked up well together at the beginning and got some separation from third and fourth place.”
With Ensor also claiming Summit Point as a home track, the locals started on the front row and stayed ahead of the fray on the green flag lap, teaming up to pull away from the field.
Bruni’s Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5 followed Ensor’s MX-5 through the early stages of the race, creating a gap from the third-place battle of Jason Connole and Manny Martinez. The pair stayed nose to tail until lap eight, when Ensor dropped two wheels off in turn two, throwing up a cloud of dust and giving Bruni the only opening he would need.
“It was a fun race. I got the jump on the start, went through turn one and got the lead,” Ensor said. “I maintained that for the first half of the race, and made a little mistake. I ran two off in turn one, and Nick got by me. We ran nose to tail the rest of the race, really. We caught lapped traffic the last couple of laps, and I didn’t have a chance to pass him back. But it was a solid finish.”
The win for Bruni was a much-needed boost to his season, who had fallen to seventh in points following round four, even after a pair of fourth-place finishes in the opening weekend.
Ensor’s runner-up finish also places him second in the season-long point battle, making up one point on Championship front-runner Connole. His bobble and Bruni’s win was a welcome relief for three-time race winner Connole, who only gave up one point to Ensor in the Series’ 20-19-18-17-16 point structure.
“I feel good about getting another podium,” Connole said. “P3 is not bad, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
“I just hung on to Manny’s bumper and tried to catch back up to Ensor and Bruni. We worked together and got back up there, with four to go I was able to get a run on Manny. I sent it into turn one and got the pass completed. From there, I was just trying to catch back up to Ensor and Bruni.”
Connole also took home the Winding Road Racing Hard Charger award, improving from his fifth spot on the grid in the Protech Bedliners/Trimark Digital/Atlanta Speedwerks MX-5.
Martinez hung on for fourth in his Island Motor Cars/Atlanta Speedwerks machine, leaving him third in the season Championship.
Following five of 10 regular season rounds, Connole holds his lead with 92 points, followed by Ensor (89), Martinez (88), Allen (82 following a fifth-place finish in the iRacing/Defined Autoworks MX-5), and Zack Month (81, after contact relegated him to ninth place on Saturday).
Each driver will be able to drop one regular season point value prior to entering the championship round at Road Atlanta in November. At that event, one driver in the combined East Series/Central Series battle will be granted a $100,000 scholarship toward the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup for the 2019 season.
More information on the Spec MX-5 Challenge can be found on the Series’ website at www.SpecMX-5.com.
Summit Point, West Virginia – Official Results of Saturday’s Spec MX-5 Challenge East Series Round Five, with finish position (start position), Name, sponsor and car.
1. (2), Nick Bruni, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
2. (1), Peter Ensor, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
3. (5), Jason Connole, Protech Bedliners/Trimark Digital/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
4. (3), Manny Martinez, Island Motor Cars/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
5. (4), John Allen, iRacing/Defined Autoworks/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
6. (7), Jose Garcia, KEEM Corp./Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
7. (8), Assen Rachev, Stable Energies/Possien-Hall Motorsports Development/BGN Racing/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
8. (9), Tyler Harrell, JTC Racing/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
9. (6), Zack Month, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
Spec MX-5 Challenge is an affordable pro road racing series with a focus on driver development and a top prize of $100,000. In 2018, its ten-race regular season in the East will run at Virginia International Raceway, Summit Point Raceway, Road Atlanta and Monticello Motor Club. The ten-race Central season will run at NCM Motorsports Park, Circuit of The Americas, Hallett Motor Racing Circuit and NOLA Raceway Park. The top seven drivers from each region will compete at a championship-deciding event at Road Atlanta in November. The twenty drivers selected for the series pay $45,000 and receive full arrive-and-drive services, including transport, entry fees, tires, fuel, mechanical work, engineering and the use of a race car. For more information on Spec MX-5 Challenge, visit:
Image: Nick Bruni poses with his family after his Spec MX-5 win.