Braselton, Ga. (November 4, 2018) – With eight drivers still alive for the Spec MX-5 Challenge Championship prize of $100,000 on Sunday morning, Peter Ensor erased all doubt by dominating the field, leading all 13 laps at Road Atlanta, and taking home the grand prize.
With Ensor and Tom Martin tied in points after the regular season and a 1-2 finish in Championship race 1, the season prize boiled down to one last race. All season long, each series driver was placed in a randomly selected, identically prepared NC-generation Mazda MX-5, all on Yokohama Tires and Pagid Racing Brakes.
Ensor, who entered the race needing to finish fourth or higher and stay in front of Tom Martin to claim the title, started on the outside of row one, jumped into the lead, and officially stayed in front for all 13 laps.
It sounds simple, but it was anything but. Though Ensor sat on the point, no fewer than seven other drivers ran in podium positions and pushed the newly crown champion.
The final showdown boiled down to the last lap and, more specifically, Road Atlanta’s Turn 10 complex – identical to Saturday’s race.
On Saturday, Bruni entered the backstretch in the lead and was swallowed up when Martin followed Ensor through and to the checkered flag. On Sunday, Ensor was in front of Bruni and Martin in the identical location – and the three came out nose-to-tail in the same order they entered, with Ensor just 0.128-second in front.
That was all it took for Ensor to claim the Series’ inaugural grand prize, which can be applied to the 2019 Global Mazda MX-5 Cup and jumpstart Ensor’s professional career.
“It wasn’t easy, for sure,” Ensor said. “Everybody was right behind me, and I really had to work to stay in front. But I did what I wanted to do coming into the weekend – won both races and the championship.
“I have no words for it right now. Coming into this year, I had no idea what to expect. It turned out way better than I could have imagined.”
Bruni finished the season on a high note, standing on the podium in both Championship weekend rounds. The runner-up finish on Sunday left him third in the season’s final standings.
“That was a fun race,” Bruni said. “I can’t be upset with second. It was a hard-fought battle to come from seventh up to second.
“These Mazda Spec MX-5s are a lot of fun to drive. Not having the tops on the car makes it great for drafting and keeps it close. If you make a mistake, you can come right back and keep racing hard and have a shot at the end.”
After finishing P2 in race 1, Martin drove a typically stoic race 2, maintaining his pace in the early laps and waiting for the final stanzas to make his move, while setting fast lap of the race. With plenty of other drivers ready to fight, however, it left him in a trailing position with just one opportunity on the final lap to execute a pass for the lead. While he didn’t make the pass, his third place in race 2 was sufficient to ensure that he finished second in the season’s final points.
“It was a really tough race for me because I knew I had to keep my nose clean,” Martin said. “Pretty much everyone else in the race was aggressively focused on going for the race win, so I was fighting for third and fourth place most of the race against a rotating group of challengers. I was just trying to get to the point where I was in touch with Peter so I’d have a shot on the last lap to take the race and the championship.
“I’m happy for Peter. He’s clearly a great driver, so I’m not frustrated to be beaten by him.”
John Allen finished one spot off the podium for the second consecutive day, ending the season on a high note in his iRacing/Defined Autoworks Mazda MX-5. Allen holds the fourth position in the season-long standings with his finish. Matt Million finished fifth, and Noah Grey sixth on Sunday. All three took turns near the front.
The Spec MX-5 Challenge is accepting applications and inquiries for the 2019 season at SpecMX-5.com. The Challenge offers a fully prepped, arrive and drive series that includes an equally balanced NC-generation Mazda MX-5 from Atlanta Speedwerks and Winding Road Racing, Yokohama Tires, Pagid Brakes, fuel, entry fees, test day and more – all wrapped in a cost-effective financial package.
Unofficial results from Sunday’s 13-lap Spec MX-5 Challenge Race at Road Atlanta, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, name and sponsor/car.
- (2), Peter Ensor, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
- (7), Nick Bruni, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
- (3), Tom Martin, Winding Road Racing/WindingRoad.com Mazda MX-5
- (5), John Allen, iRacing/Definied Autoworks/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
- (6), Matt Million, SCR Performance/Winding Road Racing Mazda MX-5
- (4), Noah Grey, Winding Road Racing Mazda MX-5
- (9), Jason Connole, Protech Bedliners/Trimark Digital/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
- (1), Manny Martinez, Island Motor Cars/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
- (8), Harry Voigt, Winding Road Racing Mazda MX-5
- (12), Tyler Harrell, JTC Racing/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
- (11), Jose Garcia, KEEM Corp./Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
- (10), Assen Rachev, Stable Energies/Possien-Hall Motorsports Development/BGN Racing/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5