MONTEREY, Calif. (May 12, 2012) -Sick Sideways teammates John Dean, of Sebring, Fla., and Christian Szymczak, of Palos Verdes, Calif., took the top two-steps of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup podium on Saturday morning at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Dean Copeland, from Bowie, Md., finished third.
After an hour-long delay for visibility-limiting fog, the scheduled 45-minute race was shorted to 30-minutes. It turned out to be the perfect race length for Dean's No. 16 Projections Research/Sick Sideways Mazda MX-5, who took the lead in the first corner and led to the checkered flag. Dean scored a 0.462-second victory, averaging 78.489 mph in the 18-lap race.
Dean held off his charging teammate at the finish, when Szymczak's No. 34 Projections Research/Sick Sideways MX-5 shaved more than two seconds off the gap in the final two laps.
The win was the second in the four-race season for Dean, who also won Round Two at Sebring on the opening weekend.
"Unbelievable," Dean said more than once. "It's just a crazy week. When we got here we had an issue somewhere in the front suspension, and we really haven't figured it out. Unbelievable getting the car set up last night, they worked until 10 o'clock. The race couldn't have gone better for us.
"Christian was on a charge there, I could see him back there and that's all I had. One more lap and he definitely would have had the top spot here on the podium. It was such a tough week and I was just hoping for a fourth or better. To be on the top step of the podium is just unbelievable."
Szymczak finished seventh during Friday's Round Three race after transmission issues, and started fourth during Sunday's race. The shortened race that helped Dean may have worked in reverse for Szymczak.
"It would have been such a fantastic battle between me and John," Szymczak said. "I think we both had fantastic cars today, extremely fast cars. We found some set up tricks that helped us out a lot and I think Sick Sideways was the class of the field this weekend.
"I had the pace to run with him. I was very close at the 30 minute mark and with 15 more minutes, it would have been a great battle."
Copeland's No. 7 Copeland Motorsports/Sync Speed MX-5 ran just behind Dean until lap 15. Beginning a late race challenge for the win, Dean and Copeland encountered lap traffic. Dean slipped past the slower car, but Copeland hit the left rear of the MX-5, lifting Copeland's machine into the air and off track.
Still, Copeland recovered to finish third, including turning the fastest lap of the race on Lap Three in 1:41.646 (79.263 mph).
"It was a little bit of a wild start, Copeland said. "John Dean and those guys got out a little bit and I was trying real hard to catch up to them and it wasn't working. I backed off, just tried to cool my tires, and was making a run. I was closing, closing, and wanted to go around [the lapped car] and he just wasn't even looking in his mirrors. It just flat punted me and I finished third.
"It was shaking, the steering wheel was pretty much ripping out of my hands. It was making noises and it's all tore up. But we salvaged third, so I guess it's not terrible. It could have been worse."
Ara Malkhassian started on pole in his No. 11 ALARA Garage MX-5, but jumped the start and was ordered through pit lane to serve a drive-through penalty. Running second at the time he served his penalty, Malkhassian rejoined the race and fifth and made up an additional position to salvage a fourth-place finish.
Matt Schultz, making his Playboy MX-5 Cup debut, finished fifth in the No. 83 SMI Motorsports MX-5.
Saturday's race winner, Elliott Skeer, finished sixth in the No. 17 MAZDASPEED/Sparco CJ Wilson Racing entry.
Kenton Koch, from Glendora, Calif., won the Skip Barber Racing School MAZDASPEED Pro Series running concurrently with the Playboy MX-5 Cup. It was the second win in as many days for Koch, who was joined on the podium by Zachry Lee (No. 69 Alpha Motorsports/B+ Foundation MX-5) and Bryan Hixon (No. 63 Seven Devils Lodge/Tequila Me MX-5).
The win elevates Dean to the championship lead after four of 11 races with 228 points. Stevan McAleer, who finished 12th on Saturday morning, is second with 210 points. Szymczak (205 points), Malkhassian (203), and Skeer (186) follow.
Round Three from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will air on Velocity as part of the Mazda Motorsports Hour, June 9 at Noon EDT, with Round Four airing one week later, June 16, at the same time.
More information on the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup is available at www.mx-5cup.com.
Follow the MX-5 Cup on Twitter @MazdaMX5Cup.
MONTEREY, Calif. - Results from Saturday's 18-lap, 40.284-mile SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Round 4 race, part of the American Le Mans Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. MX, (2), John Dean II(R), Sebring, Fla., MX-5, 18.
2. MX, (4), Christian Szymczak(R), Palos Verdes, Calif., MX-5, 18, -.462.
3. MX, (6), Dean Copeland, Bowie, Md., MX-5, 18, -9.317.
4. MX, (1), Ara Malkhassian, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 18, -11.106.
5. MX, (11), Matt Schultz(R), Clackamas, Ore., MX-5, 18, -21.539.
6. MX, (3), Elliott Skeer(R), Vista, Calif., MX-5, 18, -26.259.
7. MX, (9), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 18, -28.036.
8. MX, (7), Nathanial Sparks(R), Spanish Fort, Ala., MX-5, 18, -30.774.
9. MX, (8), Steve Bottom, Newport Beach, Calif., MX-5, 18, -35.849.
10. MX, (14), Guy Laidig, Woodside, Calif., MX-5, 18, -54.932.
11. MX, (12), Brent Mosing(R), Lafayette, La., MX-5, 18, -1:22.431.
12. MX, (5), Stevan MCAleer(R), Puntam Valley, N.Y., MX-5, 18, -1:34.408.
13. MX, (15), Beth Chryst, Herndon, Va., MX-5, 18, -1:34.953.
14. MX, (13), Ari Straus, Monticello, N.Y., MX-5, 18, -1:45.415.
15. MX, (16), Emilee Tominovich(R), Clarksville, Md., MX-5, 17, -1 lap.
16. MX, (10), Brandon Kidd, Manilius, N.Y., MX-5, 15, -3 laps.
17. SBMX, (17), Kenton Koch, Glendora, Calif., Barber MX-5, 18, -48.027.
18. SBMX, (18), Zachry Lee, San Antonio, Texas, MX-5, 18, -56.315.
19. SBMX, (19), Bryan Hixon, San Antonio, Texas, Barber MX-5, 18, -1:07.066.
20. SBMX, (20), Kevin Marshall, Truckee, Calif., Barber MX-5, 18, -1:25.029.
21. SBMX, (22), Doug Tuttle, Glenbrook, Nev., Barber MX-5, 18, -1:25.634.
22. SBMX, (21), David Knight, Jericho, Vt., , 17, -1 lap.
23. SBMX, (23), Douglass Brown, Wilmington, Mass., MX-5, 16, -2 laps.
Time of race: 30 minutes, 47.659 seconds.
Average speed: 78.489 mph
Margin of victory: .462 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-18, #16 John Dean_II(R)
Fastest race lap: #7 Dean Copeland, 1:41.646 (79.263 mph)
Attached: John Dean won Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Credit: Mark Weber/SCCA
Source Sick Sideways