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Malkhassian Sets Fastest Time In First Mazda MX-5 Cup Practice From MazdaRaceway
Posted by: newsla on May 03, 2014 - 06:13 AM
Sports Cars
Malkhassian Sets Fastest Time In First Mazda MX-5 Cup Practice From Mazda Raceway

Ara Malkhassian, of Houston, clocked the quickest time of the opening practice in preparation for Round Three of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, part of the Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda. John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, and Christian Szymczak, of Palos Verdes, California, were the remaining drivers in the top three.


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In the No. 11 ALARA Racing MX-5, Malkhassian put in an early quick lap and never looked in his rearview mirror. In 15 laps around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course, Malkhassian clicked off a fast time of 1:41.730 (79.197 mph).

“The new BFGoodrich Tires g-Force R1S they’ve given us this season have made me fall back in love with my Mazda MX-5 Cup car,” Malkhassian said. “This is the best track we will go to all season. Mazda Raceway is one of those tracks that if you don’t enjoy it, you shouldn’t be in racing.

“ALARA Racing gave me a great setup on the car and being out there with my teammates Kenton [Koch] and Christian [Szymczak] was a lot of fun, which allowed me to set a fast time during the session.”

Dean was also quick early on the 30-minute session. At the controls of his No. 16 Projections Research/PPG MX-5, Dean set a best time of 1:42.305 (78.752 mph). Dean said his strong pace in practice means good things as the compressed schedule slated for today wears on.

“There are only two real passing zones here at Mazda Raceway,” Dean said. “With that in mind, qualifying becomes very important. In turn, that makes practice important since our qualifying order is based on our practice times. I wanted to be as high in the order as I could, to give myself a good spot once we get to qualifying later this afternoon.

“Today is going to be tricky since we have two practice sessions, a qualifying session and a race. In these cars you’re busy on track, and it can be easy to become fatigued. With the temperatures we are going to have today, that will come into play. The schedule is also tough on the crews, so we need to quickly find a setup for both qualifying and the race.”

Another ALRA Racing car was third quickest in the session. In this case, last year’s Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion, Szymczak, was behind the wheel of the No. 34 ALARA Racing MX-5. His best time was a 1:42.306 (78.752 mph) around the circuit at which he was the fastest qualifier and a race winner, in 2013.

“The new tires are certainly different,” Szymczak said. “You can drive them more aggressively by throwing the car into the corner a little more, and get the hammer down quickly.

“It seems like our team is doing well and the setups on our cars are quick. That’s definitely positive for the team, and hopefully it will continue for the rest of the day.”

Rookie Joey Bickers, of Moorpark, California, was the fourth-quickest driver in the session, leading up to this afternoon’s Round Three race. Behind the wheel of the No. 29 Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5, Bickers best time was a 1:42.563 (78.554 mph).

Bickers CJ Wilson Racing teammate, Patrick Gallagher, seems to have expelled some of the mechanical gremlins that slowed him down at Sebring. Gallagher, of Thornville, Ohio, was able to stop the clock with a best time of 1:42.798 (78.375 mph) in his No. 28 MedBuild/Henry Schein/ModSpace MX-5.

In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge class, Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, set the quickest lap. In a session where Foley was making some in-depth adjustments on pit road, Foley turned in a fast lap of 1:44.428 (77.151 mph).

“I was able to put a good time in early,” Foley said. “The car’s good and there’s some nice balance to it.

“We spent some extended time in pit lane making some tire pressure adjustments. Essentially, we’re just tuning for the weather changes we have from yesterday’s conditions. It was really hot yesterday, which is uncharacteristic for this track, during this time of the year. We should have cooler temperatures for the remainder of the weekend, so we just have to adjust the car to that.”

Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, California slotted into second with a time of 1:44.569 (77.047 mph), while piloting his No. 99 Royal Rugby SBMX-5. Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut, completed the podium positions with at time of 1:44.602 (77.023 mph).

The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires is on track for their second practice session, preceding Round Three, later today at 11:15 a.m. (PDT). A 30-minute session for qualifying is set to begin at 3:30 p.m. (PDT), with Round Three’s race to follow at 5:45 p.m. (PDT). Round Four is set for an 8:00 a.m. (PDT) start.

Stay up to date with the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires by going to www.mx-5cup.com. Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/MazdaMX5Cup and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @MazdaMX5Cup.

MONTEREY, Calif. - Results from Practice Session One for Saturday's SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires Round Three race, part of the Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.

1, MX, (11), Ara Malkhassian, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:41.730, 79.197.
2, MX, (16), John Dean II, Sebring, Fla., MX-5, 1:42.305, 78.752.
3, MX, (34), Christian Szymczak, Palos Verdes, Calif., MX-5, 1:42.306, 78.752.
4, MX, (29), Joey Bickers(R), Moorpark, Calif., MX-5, 1:42.563, 78.554.
5, MX, (28), Patrick Gallagher, Thornville, Ohio, MX-5, 1:42.798, 78.375.
6, MX, (26), Tim Probert, Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:42.964, 78.248.
7, MX, (17), Lucas Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:43.376, 77.936.
8, MX, (41), Sebastian Landy, Great Falls, Va., MX-5, 1:43.410, 77.911.
9, MX, (8), Nathanial Sparks, Spanish Fort, Ala., MX-5, 1:43.434, 77.893.
10, MX, (35), Devin Jones(R), Mooresville, N.C., MX-5, 1:43.593, 77.773.
11, MX, (6), Timothy Paul(R), Mahopac, N.Y., MX-5, 1:43.700, 77.693.
12, MX, (19), Timothy Reger(R), Houston, Texas, MX-5, 1:43.947, 77.508.
13, MX, (10), Brent Mosing, Lafayette, La., MX-5, 1:44.980, 76.746.
14, MX, (27), Charles Paquin, Ottawa, Ontario, MX-5, 1:45.478, 76.383.
15, MX, (44), Steve Bottom, Newport Beach, Calif., MX-5, 1:45.676, 76.240.
16, MX, (18), Joseph Catania(R), Cazenovia, N.Y., MX-5, 1:46.128, 75.915.
17, MX, (12), Kenton Koch(R), Glendora, Calif., MX-5, no time.
18, MX, (15), Andrew Charbonneau, Delray Beach, Fla., MX-5, no time.
19, MX, (20), Chris Haldeman(R), Princeton, Texas, MX-5, no time.

1, SBMX, (93), Robby Foley, Randolph, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:44.428, 77.151.
2, SBMX, (99), Drake Kemper, Toluca Lake, Calif., SB MX-5, 1:44.569, 77.047.
3, SBMX, (61), Ben Albano, Greenwich, Conn., SB MX-5, 1:44.602, 77.023.
4, SBMX, (60), Zach Lee, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:45.089, 76.666.
5, SBMX, (63), Bryan Hixon, San Antonio, Texas, SB MX-5, 1:45.089, 76.666.
6, SBMX, (94), Sarah Montgomery, Lafayette, La., SB MX-5, 1:45.473, 76.387.
7, SBMX, (68), John Morton, Waukegan, Ill., SB MX-5, 1:46.528, 75.630.
8, SBMX, (65), Felix Borodaty, Short Hills, N.J., SB MX-5, 1:46.849, 75.403.
9, SBMX, (69), Chris Beaufait, Freeland, Wash., SB MX-5, 1:49.054, 73.879.
10, SBMX, (98), Lucas Bize, New York, N.Y., SB MX-5, no time.

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