Robert Noell took a double Formula Mazda win at the Eastern Conference Majors Tour rounds at VIRginia International Raceway.

Rain and Shine at VIR

Slick conditions and cool temperatures affected all eight race groups that took to the track to contest Round 7 of the SCCA Eastern Conference U.S. Majors Tour at VIRginia International Raceway, part of the SafeRacer National Club Racing program.

Add one part water to the unseasonably cool temperatures from Friday, and those were the conditions that greeted 246 racers on Saturday morning as a result of overnight rains that continued through the four warm-up sessions at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit. By the time racing action began, the rain had stopped falling. However, the track’s new pavement and surrounding runoff were still soaked, and never completely dried due to high humidity and temperatures that barely cracked 60 degrees.

Spec Miata took center stage in Group Three. Dillon Machavern, of Charlotte, Vt., notched the sprint race win after a tough scrap at the front. Driving the No. 24 Heritage/Panic/T-Speed Mazda Miata, Machavern was the leader in the closing laps of the 25-minute race. However, Andrew Carbonell made a strong challenge for the lead on the final lap.

Under braking on the approach to Turn 14, Carbonell dove to Machavern’s left. The move put him on the outside of the downhill, right-hand curve. Carbonell’s momentum carried him off course through Turn 15, allowing Machavern to seal his victory.

The Group 4 race started with some unwanted excitement as the overall polesitter, Kevin Leigh, lost control and collided with the wall at Turn 4 on the opening lap. Leigh was uninjured, but Patrick Crider, of Leesburg, Va., assumed the lead and never looked back. He cruised to the overall win in his F Production No. 89 Hoosier Tire/Jesse Prather Motorsports Mazda Miata, beating some faster classes in the process.

Group five consisted of the big-bore formula and prototype classes. The initial start was waived off as polesitter Jacek Mucha, of Laval, Quebec, Can., was not the first to the flag stand. Once underway, Mucha took the overall win in the No. 07 Phoenix-innotech/Mazda JMS06CP Mazda

Robert Noell, of Cary, N.C., extended his Eastern Conference Formula Mazda winning streak to three after capturing a Saturday win at VIR. Driving the No. 27 Guest Concepts/VIPER Star Mazda, Noell did himself a big favor when it comes to the conference point standings by keeping his winning streak alive.

Bright and sunny skies finally showed up for Sunday’s Round 8. Sunday’s feature races were slated for 16 laps or 40 minutes, whichever came first.

With Spec Miata, close racing is the norm and Sunday’s 16-lap feature race did not disappoint. Alex Bolanos, of Hialeah, Fla., brought home the second-day win at VIR. Bolanos (No. 57 Autotechnik/Momo/Apex Alignment Mazda Miata), Dillon Machavern and Andrew Carbonell spent the first 15 laps of the race looking for open real estate. It seemed as though no one wanted to lead until the last lap, and Bolanos was in the catbird seat when the field was shown one-to-go.

Machavern made a hard challenge for the lead as the front pack approached Turn 14. He attempted the same outside move that was made on him when he held the lead during Saturday’s closing lap. Again, the results were the same. Bolanos had the inside line through the downhill right-hander, allowing him the edge through the resulting left-handed Turn 15, which proved enough to secure the win.

The big-bore formula and prototype cars featured some close races for class wins. In Prototype 1, Jacek Much, of Laval, Quebec, Can., doubled up on the weekend at the controls of his No. 07 Phoenix-innotech/Mazda JMS06CP Mazda. He finished up front in the back-and-forth P1 battle between himself and Garrett Kletjian, while Gaston Kearby (No. 56 GK Motorsports Swift 016 Mazda), of Corpus Christi, Texas, brought home the Formula Atlantic win just ahead of his son Connor.

The next stop for the Eastern Conference SCCA U.S. Majors Tour will be at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Rounds 9 and 10 of the conference season are scheduled for June 6-8.

SCCA Eastern Conference U.S. Majors Tour
VIRginia International Raceway, Danville, Va.
April 19-20, 2015

Round 7 Mazda Winners

Class Driver Hometown Car
Formula Atlantic Conner Kearby Corpus Christi Texas Swift 016 Mazda
Formula Mazda Robert Noell Cary N.C. Formula Mazda
E Production Tim Estes Lyme N.H. Mazda RX7
F Production Patrick Crider Leesburg Va. Mazda Miata
Prototype 1 Jacek Mucha Laval Quebec Can. JMS06CP Mazda
Spec Miata Dillon Machavern Charlotte Vt. Mazda Miata

Round 8 Mazda winners

Class Driver Hometown Car
Formula Atlantic Gaston Kearby Corpus Christi Texas Swift 016 Mazda
Formula Mazda Robert Noell Cary N.C. Formula Mazda
F Production Patrick Crider Leesburg Va. Mazda Miata
Prototype 1 Jacek Mucha Laval Quebec Can. JMS06CP Mazda
Spec Miata Alex Bolanos Hialeah Fla. Mazda Miata