Copeland sweeps Road America in MX-5 Cup

Dean Copeland doubled down at Road America by winning both Rounds nine and 10 of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires, part of the Road Race Showcase.

Saturday’s win marked Copeland’s second in his MX-5 Cup career. For 16 laps, Copeland kept his No. 7 Copeland Motorsports/Sync Speed Inc. MX-5 in contention for the lead. On the final lap, he started his move in the Carousel to get around Nathaniel Sparks. While Copeland started the pass in Turn 10, it wasn’t complete until the exit of Turn 12.

Like Copeland, Sparks was part of the five-car group that continually swapped the lead amongst themselves for the second half of the race. The lead officially changed hands nine times among three drivers, while many other unofficial passes for the race lead took place elsewhere on the 4.048-mile circuit.

In his No. 49 Excitations.com/Atlanta Motorsports Group MX-5, Sebastian Landy spent most of the race at the tail end of the lead draft, although still in the mix. John Dean finished fourth in his No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5. As the laps wound down, Dean was in contention for the race lead but didn’t have the placement to get to the point position.

Championship leader Kenton Koch brought his No. 12 ALARA Racing/Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5 home in fifth. Koch hung with the leaders early on, but had lost close contact with the front-running group by lap 14. He spent the remaining three laps fighting to hold the fifth position.

In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Drake Kemper took a hard-fought win. Kemper, Ben Albano and Lucas Bize were all scored as lap leaders during the race, but Kemper was able to put his No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5 in the right place when it counted. Lucas Bize finished second followed by Robby Foley, who completed the podium.

Copeland followed his win from Saturday with another on Sunday. This race was slowed by a one-lap full course caution, brought out after Ara Malkhassian collided with a track barrier between Turns 1 and 2. The driver was unhurt in the incident.

Like Saturday’s race, the battle at the front of the field was another close affair. For much of the time, Copeland was part of a five-car scrum for the lead that included Koch, Sparks, Dean and Landy. On lap eight, Landy ran off course on the outside of Turn 6, but was able to get back underway after going a couple of laps down to the leaders. Dean then dropped from the lead battle after his car suffered a broken suspension component, forcing an early retirement from the race on lap 10.

The opening laps of Koch’s race closely mirrored that of his run on Saturday. Koch was the leader at the strip for the first eight laps of the race. Unlike Saturday’s race, however, Koch was able to keep himself in contention for the win until the checkered flag flew.

Until Dean’s mechanical failure, Sparks worked closely with his teammate. Racing with help from the draft, Sparks was able to get his No. 8 OOTSK Performance/Bimmerworld MX-5 to the front of the line and was scored as the leader on laps nine and 10. Following Dean’s retirement, it was an everyone-for-themselves battle for the win.

Lucas Catania brought his No. 17 Atlanta Motorsports Group/NY Spine & Wellness/SOS MX-5 home in fourth. Starting in eighth, Catania methodically worked his way forward and took the lead of the second drafting pack on the last lap.

Russell Walker completed the top five positions for Round 10. At the wheel of his No. 40 ExpoSystems MX-5, Walker quickly got embroiled in the position swapping going on in the second drafting pack. As the lead group created separation between themselves and the rest of the field, it became a fight to finish at the front of the particular pack in which each driver found his or her self.

In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Drake Kemper came out on top in a very close race to the line with Ben Albano. After spitting the classes for the initial rolling start and the lap six restart, the leaders quickly caught up to the end of the Cup field and interspersed themselves in the traffic. When it came to the final lap, Kemper was able to use traffic in his No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5 to his advantage and win the drag race, up the hill, from Turn 14 to the line. Albano finished just 0.007-second behind Kemper in his No. 61 Project Yellow Light SBMX-5. Lucas Bize finished in third.