Last week, we brought you an update on the autocross development for the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata in STR, including a recap of the Packwood Championship Tour.
Following Ron Bauer’s win at the Tour, he and co-driver Charly Spyksma attended the Packwood ProSolo this past weekend at the same venue.
(Ron Bauer pictured above. Photo taken by Kerry Gonzales.)
The Tim Weidemann designed-courses had a variety of features, including a slalom that was masked as a bunch of alternating walls, a sweeper that entered a tight, two-cone slalom, and an “S” section that also entered the final two cone slalom. Top speeds in STR were right around 60 mph before the turnaround and back to the same speed at the finishes; times were in the 25 second per course range.
Aside from a few rain drops during the Ladies Challenge on Sunday, the weather cooperated.
Attendance for the Pro was down compared to the Tour the previous weekend, with only eight competitors battling in STR after one of the competitors from the Tour moved to SSM to help fill that class; cars included Bauer’s new Miata, a pair of Honda S2000s, an MR2 Spyder, and an NB and NC Miata. At the end of the weekend, three trophies would be given out.
Saturday morning began with Spyksma running first in the Bauer Miata. After four runs, he ended a very respectable 0.529 behind Kevin Dietz, who had finished 2nd the prior weekend in his S2000. As a second driver, Bauer went out with the benefit of warm tires. His times were slightly quicker on both courses, ending the morning with a 0.135 lead over Dietz.
Saturday afternoon had Bauer and Dietz running head to head as the top two drivers in class. Bauer’s first run on the left was slightly quicker than his morning runs, but had a cone. Moving over to the right, he shaved off nearly 2/10ths of a second. Dietz saw no improvement on his first two runs. Their next pairing saw Bauer improving by 0.250 on the left, while Dietz picked up nearly 4/10ths on the right to again bring them very close on time. Final runs had Bauer coming within 0.011 of Dietz’ time on the right, while Dietz shaved off 0.012 on the left. The two would end the day separated by 0.341 with Bauer in front. When Spyksma ran, he was able to improve by 0.254, but fell back to 0.684 behind Dietz, retaining 3rd position.
Bauer took a couple of course walks Sunday morning and formulated a plan on what to work on for his runs. He and Dietz would again pair up. 60 foot times for the two drivers were similar all weekend, in the 2.1 range. First runs offered no improvement for either driver, but Bauer found that he could go full throttle through the slalom walls off of the start on the left. Swapping sides, Bauer red lit with a 0.491 light, missing the green by 0.009 seconds! The raw time, however, would have been a nearly 2/10ths pickup. Dietz shaved off nearly 2/10ths on the left. Final runs had Bauer effectively matching his Saturday times, but with no improvements, while Dietz took off time on both sides. Competition runs ended with Bauer having quick time on the left, while Dietz had fast time on the right. Once all the dust settled though, Bauer would take the win by a scant 0.042 seconds! As second driver, Spyksma used the warm tires to his advantage and took off time on both sides to hold onto 3rd and finish just 0.471 behind Dietz.
All three drivers qualified for the Super Challenge. Spyksma was up first and unfortunately lost in the first round. Bauer was able to win his pairing in the first round, but unfortunately red lit against fellow Mazda driver Bob Bundy (who also red lit!) in the second round. Dietz made it all the way to the 3rd place runoff, but not before his throwout bearing failed, leaving him no car to drive. After consulting with the officials, Bauer offered up his Miata for Dietz to take his final two runs. Trying to learn the new car, Dietz was at a disadvantage that he couldn’t overcome, unfortunately.
“This weekend was a great battle with my good friend, Kevin Dietz. We compete against each other pretty much every weekend, and have for years. This year finally has us in the same class, so it’s not “calculator racing” anymore. It’s really upping both of our games and making sure that we try to get everything out of our cars. I think this is really benefiting both of us, and should allow us to really shine in Lincoln,” said Bauer.
These two National events at Packwood concluded the team’s big events until THE big event itself, the Solo National Championships in Lincoln, NE. Bauer will be at Solo Nationals in early September to try to give the new Miata a National Championship in its first year. The win at the Pro Solo also gave Bauer enough points to mathematically have a chance to take home the Pro Solo National Championships. There are still a few more parts to test on the car, and a little more power to come, so stay tuned for future articles.