CTSC: Finishing Strong

Mazda teams look for victory in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge finale at Road Atlanta.

The 2014 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season is drawing to a close this weekend. The CJ Wilson Racing and Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 teams in the Street Tuner category are looking for strong performances to finish out the season, give Mazda the manufacturer’s championship and put as many as five Mazda drivers in the top 10 in points.

According to Freedom Autosport driver Randy Pobst, who sits ninth in the points just behind the CJ Wilson trio of Chad McCumbee, Stevan McAleer and Tyler McQuarrie, the Mazda teams will have a good chance to do that at Road Atlanta.

“Road Atlanta is a combination of opposites,” he explains. “Fast, sweeping curves all the way out; long, foot-to-floor top-speed run on the way back. With light weight and a perfectly balanced chassis, our Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5s excel on the curvy 80  percent of the track. That other 20 percent keeps the race close, because the other cars have more power.”

To give them the best shot at victory at a track that Pobst knows well – he won the first SCCA National Championship for the Miata in 1992 at Road Atlanta – Pobst will be concentrating on making his MX-5 work well in the sweeping final turn of the track.

“Success at Road Atlanta for our Freedom Autosport MX-5s depends on proper handling balance in the awesomely fast last corner, Turn 12. A good exit here sets up a pass into Turn 1, and the following Esses provide the opportunity to build a lead before that seemingly endless back straight. I will be focusing on that in practice, with talented teammate Andrew Carbonell,” he says.

Mazda sits third in the manufacturer’s championship, but the fight is extremely close. A win by one MX-5 and strong finishes by the other MX-5 teams could tip it in Mazda’s favor.

“Our up-and-down season has left us out of the driver’s championship, but a strong result at this last race of the year is critical to Mazda’s shot at the manufacturer’s title,” says Pobst. “Both Mazda and Freedom Autosport have the potential to sweep the Atlanta podium, a big step toward that goal. And sponsors, team and drivers are always invigorated for the future when they cap the year with a win.”

The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge finale kicks off at 1:15 Eastern on Friday with a two-and-a-half hour race. The race will be live on imsa.com or broadcast on Fox Sports 1 at noon Eastern on Oct. 12. The following day will be Petit Le Mans, the 10-hour or 1000-mile final race for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. As usual, Mazda will have a live stream from on board one of its SKYACTIV Diesel Prototypes on its YouTube channel. That race kicks off at 10:15 a.m. Eastern on Saturday.