(Current points leader Dean Copeland pictured above.)

Mazda MX-5 Cup: Mid-Season Recap / CTMP Preview

Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires Heads to Canada to Kick-off the Second Half of the Season –

IRVINE, Calif. (July 5, 2016) – The first six rounds of the 2016 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires has seen intense action and large fields.  This weekend, the battle moves North of the border when the MX-5 Cup joins the IMSA weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). The MX-5 Cup races will race on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

The races will be broadcast live on www.MazdaLive.com and will include commentary from the Radio Le Mans team.  The races will also be available on Fans Choice TV.  http://www.fanschoice.tv/

Rounds 7 and 8 Live Stream Schedule:
•    6:15 pm (Eastern) Saturday, July 7, 2016 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Race #1
•    3:10 pm (Eastern) Sunday, July 8, 2016 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Race #2

John Doonan, director of motorsports, Mazda North American Operations, said, “Forty cars taking the green flag at Mazda Raceway was just the beginning.  Having four different winners from the first six races shows how competitive the series is so we can’t wait to see the action at CTMP, VIR, and Road Atlanta.”

The MX-5 Cup story lines to date have included:
•    Dean Copeland looking to maintain his championship lead and score his first professional championship.  Copeland has been the model of consistency this season with three podium finishes.
•    Nathanial Sparks has been matching Copeland for consistency, having scored two podiums and five top-five finishes from the first six races.  Sparks is just eight points behind Copeland.
•    Defending Series Champion John Dean II has been cursed with bad luck in the first half of the season.  Dean has scored more poles, led more laps, and set more fast laps than any other driver but sits seventh in points due to being involved in multiple late race crashes.
•    Nikko Reger and Robby Foley have each scored two wins, but are lagging behind in points due to penalty points.
•    Chris Stone is the leading rookie, sitting sixth overall in points.  Stone has scored a pair of top-five finishes.
•    The competition has seen a wide variety of teams challenging for wins and the championship. Six different teams are represented in the top-ten in driver points.

MX-5 Cup Points Update:
After the first six races, Dean Copeland leads the MX-5 Cup standings, thanks to consistent finishes; the top twelve overall in points are:

1    Dean Copeland              Bowie, Maryland                Copeland Motorsports           311
2    Nathanial Sparks          Spanish Fort, Alabama      Sick Sideways                         303
3    Drake Kemper               Toluca Lake, California      Sick Sideways                         254
4    Ara Malkhassian            Houston, Texas                  ALARA Racing                        251
5    Nikko Reger                   Houston, Texas                  Copeland Motorsports            229
6    Chris Stone [R]              Salt Lake City, Utah          ALARA Racing                         220
7    John Dean II                  Sebring, Florida                  Sick Sideways                          196
8    Dan Martinson               Rogers, Minnesota             Atlanta Motorsports Group    186
9    Alex Bachoura               Houston, Texas                   Slipstream Performance         183
10    Mark Drennan [R]       San Jose, California           Winding Road Team TFB          177
11    Robby Foley                 Randolph, New Jersey       Atlanta Motorsports Group     170
12    Sarah Montgomery     Lafayette, Louisiana          ALARA Racing                           167

Track Location:     Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
3233 Concession Road #10, Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada L1C 3K6

Weekend MX-5 Cup Schedule Highlights:
Friday, July 8, 2016
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.         Practice #1 – Idemitsu MX-5 Cup
2:05 p.m. – 2:35 p.m.         Practice #2 – Idemitsu MX-5 Cup
Saturday, July 9, 2016
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.         Qualifying – Idemitsu MX-5 Cup
6:20 p.m. – 7:05 p.m.         Race #1 (45 minutes) Idemitsu MX-5 Cup
Sunday, July 10, 2016
3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.         Race #2 (45 minutes) Idemitsu MX-5 Cup

Previous MX-5 Cup Winners at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park:
2006     Todd Buras
2008     Robert Huffmaster
2010    Brad Rampelberg
2012    John Dean II
2013    Christian Szymczak (Race 1)
Elliott Skeer (Race 2)
2014    Kenton Koch (Race 1)
Kenton Koch (Race 2)
2015    Chad McCumbee (Race 1)
Patrick Gallagher (Race 2)
Fastest Qualifying Lap: 1:34.749 (93.430 mph), John Dean, 2015
MX-5 Cup Fastest Race Lap: 1:35.350 (92.841 mph), Timothy Paul, 2015
MX-5 Cup Smallest Margin of Victory: 0.088-second, Elliott Skeer over Christian Szymczak, 2013

The Idemitsu MX-5 Cup is the signature spec series for the Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24), the sports car counterpart to the Mazda Road to Indy (#MRTI). On both paths, Mazda-powered champions earn a Mazda scholarship to advance their career. The MX-5 Cup champion earns a $200,000 scholarship.

For more information on the race weekend, including ticket information, go to: http://canadiantiremotorsportpark.com/

Driver quotes:  We asked MX-5 Cup racers to reflect on the first half of the season and what they are looking forward to most in the final three race weekends.

John Dean II: “My season has been riddled with bad luck that has been out of my control, but I am keeping a positive attitude and having more fun driving my Mazda MX-5 cup than ever before.  I continue to prove my abilities by setting poles and track records.  I especially look forward to the rest of the season as we have some of the best race tracks in North America on our schedule, including my favorite track Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.  My teammates are full of in-human like talent that keeps makes me push harder and harder and allows me to extract more from myself.”

Drake Kemper: “My season to date with Sick Sideways in the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich has been quite the wild ride. The ups and downs of racing are always what makes this sport so much more mesmerizing and heartfelt than any other. The highest highs and the lowest lows.  Heading into Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, my personal favorite track, I am still third in the championship, 57 points behind leader Dean Copeland and 49 points behind my teammate Nathanial ‘Sparky’ Sparks.  The Sick Sideways team has an unbelievable record of results at this track and we look forward to showing our pace, skill, and strategy to have a clean and fun weekend running up front.  This championship certainly isn’t over from my standpoint, I just need to be consistent, drama free, fast, but most importantly a good teammate for Sparky.  Our Team winning the championship is always the priority, no matter who the individual behind the wheel is.”

Kenny Murillo Jr.: “I’m working to find a ride for VIR but more focused on establishing a full season for next year.  I’m most looking forward to VIR. Road America gave us some great strategic and close racing and I’d figure VIR is going to be even better for the entire ALARA team. It’s great to see the final races will be streamed, especially globally.”

Ashton Harrison:  “I’m a Georgia native.  I live in Atlanta, so Road Atlanta is my home track and where I got started in motorsports. I’ll have about 30 guests coming to watch the MX-5 race at Road Atlanta, so to say my family and friends are excited is an understatement.”

Nikko Reger: “Well I believe my first half of the season has been an uphill battle, ever since my disappointing weekend at Mazda Raceway I have slowly worked my way back into the points battle with good finishes and a consistent Copeland Motorsports car. Looking forward to the next half, I hope the CMS team can continue on its momentum, pick up more wins and hopefully clinch the championship, but there is still so much more work to be done.”

About Mazda Motorsports
Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook.

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