Spec MX-5 Challenge racers enjoyed tight racing this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where 16 drivers and their teams battled it out during a cross-over event between the National Option & North Region classes for the NASA Great Lakes Memorial Day Weekend of Racing. Thomas Annunziata soared to the top of the National Option standings with back-to-back wins, where Nathan Saxon stretched his lead in the North Region standings to 40 points after a solid weekend which included a second-place finish. Grant West also impressed, securing first place of the South Region standings with a strong showing and a podium during his weekend.
Qualifying got underway Saturday morning, seeing a total of 16 Spec MX-5 racers hit the track for their hot laps. Grant West set the pace on lap 1, with a blistering time of 1:41.741. Grant’s quick time was toppled on the second lap by Thomas Annunziata, when he went just .048 quicker, which ultimately was the session’s fastest lap and good for pole position for the weekend’s first race later that afternoon. Nathan Saxon was the only other driver to eclipse the 1:41 mark during qualifying, when he snuck past Grant to slide behind Thomas by only .07 seconds!
Race 1 got underway as 63 cars in total hit the track for the Lightning Group session. Nathan Saxon took the lead on lap one, and would remain in front battling it out with Nate Cicero for the majority of the race. Thomas Annunziata found his groove on lap 7, when he set the fastest lap of the race and began clawing his way through lapped traffic on his surge to the front of the Spec MX-5 field. By lap 9, Thomas had claimed second position (the first time the top-3 had changed all race). On lap 10 he took over the lead from Nate, with Nathan falling to third. The fierce battle between the three young drivers continued until the very last lap, seeing Thomas cross the line first, with Nathan only .6 seconds behind in second, and a surprise move by Grant West saw him finish third just .04 seconds behind Nathan, and only .09 seconds in front of fourth place finisher Nate Cicero. A spectacular finish capped off an incredibly well-fought race, with just .10 seconds separating second-fourth positions. Alex Bertagnoli wasn’t far behind in fifth, only .8 seconds back.
Sunday morning saw the racers head out for race 2, with a split start ensuring tight Spec MX-5 racing for the entirety of the race. Lap 2 saw Thomas Annunziata claim third place after going side-by-side through 5 corners with Alex Bertagnoli, with lap 4 seeing him jump Nathan Saxon after biding his time and pouncing when the moment was right. The field was lead every lap by Series veteran, Michael Borden, until the white flag waved on lap 9 when the Spec MX-5 racers finally hit lapped traffic. Thomas continued to show pure race-craft when Michael had a mis-shift, allowing the young ace to capture the lead, and ultimately the victory – his second of the weekend. Michael would finish second as the checker flag waved, with Nate Cicero claiming the last step of the podium in third, after an incredible 4 positions gained throughout the race!
Spec MX-5 is back on track this weekend, seeing the National Option clash with the South Region on the infamous tarmac of Sebring International Raceway. Will Thomas dominate again? Will Grant hold onto his newly acquired South Region lead? Find out this weekend – June 3rd to 5th.