(Pictured above, Justin Hille, Spec Miata.) 

Mazda Competitors Shine on Sunday at Mid-Ohio in the SCCA Majors Tour

In preparation for the 2016 SCCA Runoffs, set to run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in September, most of the top drivers in the country turned out this past weekend to put their skills to the test.

On Saturday, a light drizzle that slowly increased in intensity greeted racers, making it challenging for all. By day’s end, Mazda competitors took home four wins. But on Sunday, the weather and racing were nearly perfect, with many Mazda racers shining. By day’s end, Mazda competitors took home seven more wins.

Saturday: While the track started to dampen during the Group 6 race, which featured E Production and GT-Lite race cars, the rain really began to create chaos in Group 7 when the big GT-1, GT-2, GT-3, Touring 1 and American Sedan steeds hit the track. An early spinner kept the Group from receiving the green flag before being pulled into the pits for a long delay. Ultimately, the Group got only a few laps of green flag competition before being lined up behind the pace car to receive the checkered flag.

With the rain still coming down, F Production and H Production drivers made their way on course to start their race. The declining conditions caught out pole sitter Eric Prill who gingerly crept off track in his Mazda Miata at the first turn, handing the lead to Kevin Ruck in his Acura Integra. With only six minutes remaining in the event, Ruck gave up the lead to eventual winner Charlie Campbell in a Mazda Miata.

“Really, it was pretty treacherous out there,” Campbell said after the race. “But I got the start right and things just worked out for us in the race. I don’t mind the rain, so it really didn’t bother me.”

Things didn’t improve any for the open-cockpit pilots in Group 9 — consisting of Prototype 1, Prototype 2, Formula 1000, Formula Atlantic, Formula Continental, Formula Enterprise and Formula Mazda vessels — which suffered the same fate as the earlier Group 7 event and had very few laps under the green flag before queuing behind the pace car for a checkered flag.

But while the day’s later racers were mistreated by Mother Nature, some good racing indeed took place earlier Saturday. Spec Miata, which featured more than 50 cars, had an intense battle ultimately won by Justin Hille.

“The race was great,” Hille said sitting in his car after slipping off his helmet. “Michael Carter got ahead at the beginning, but seemed to be making a few mistakes I was waiting to capitalize on. I was finally able to get around him on the back straight, but I couldn’t create a gap. I ended up defending every lap because I knew if he got by I’d never be able to slip by again.”

Sunday: Again, the field in Spec Miata was deep, bringing to light who is likely to be the favorite for taking a National Championship home from this year’s Runoffs. Once more, Justin Hille from Canfield, OH took the checkered flag.

The final race Group of the day also contained a thriller in the Formula Mazda Class. Jarret Voorhies maintained control for most of the race, but it was Matt Machiko who squeaked by at the last moment to snatch a win.

“The track was just perfect for us today after a rainy Saturday,” Machiko said. “Jarret really made me work for this. I made a last-lap pass at the end of the straightaway after being patient. I just figured it was time to jump on it then.”

With the Mid-Ohio SCCA U.S. Majors Tour complete, next up for the Northeast Conference is the June 24-26 SCCA U.S. Majors Tour at Watkins Glen International. The Northern Conference continues its calendar June 17-19 at the SCCA U.S. Majors Tour June Sprints at Road America. More information about the entire SCCA U.S. Majors Tour can be found at SCCA.com/majors.

Provisional race results from Saturday’s SCCA U.S. Majors Tour at Mid-Ohio with Class: Name, Hometown and Car:
-F Production: Charlie Campbell; Corry, PA; Mazda Miata
-Formula Mazda: Jarret Voorhies; Kissimmee, FL; Formula Mazda
-Spec Miata: Justin Hille; Canfield, OH; Spec Miata
-Touring 4: Ryan Kowalewski; Indianapolis, IN; Mazda MX-5

Provisional race results from Sunday’s SCCA U.S. Majors Tour at Mid-Ohio with Class: Name, Hometown and Car:
-E Production: Breton Williams; Clinton, IA; Mazda MX5
-Formula Mazda: Matt Machiko; Wexford, PA; Formula Mazda
-GT-3: Phil Lasco; N. Venice, FL; Mazda RX 7
-GT-Lite: Michael Kamalian; Marietta, GA; Mazda Miata
-Prototype 2: David Ferguson; Paso Robles, CA; Mazda VanDiemenRFS-03
-Spec Miata: Justin Hille; Canfield, OH; Spec Miata
-Touring 4: Ryan Kowalewski; Indianapolis, IN; Mazda MX-5
Photo: Justin Hille, Car 40, on his way to a hard-fought win in Spec Miata on first day of competition at the SCCA U.S. Majors Tour at Mid-Ohio. Note, Justin Hille changed his car # from 48 at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, pictured on the home page of MazdaMotorsports.com.
Photo Credit: Shaun Lumley