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Aug 06, 2014 - 03:19 PM
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M1 Racing's Donato Finishes Tenth on Sunday at Mid-Ohio
Posted by: newsla on Aug 06, 2014 - 03:14 PM
Sports Cars
M1 Racing's Donato Finishes Tenth on Sunday at Mid-Ohio


All three of M1 Racing's drivers honed their skills and gained valuable experience in the doubleheader for the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires last weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

 

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Although he was competing in only his second Pro Mazda event, rookie Felipe Donato of Guarani das Missoes, Brazil came away with a tenth-place finish in Sunday's race with his #9, which is sponsored by Top House Design and Inova Marketing. He almost had a top-10 finish in Saturday's race too, but he ended up 16th after another driver hit him in the rear and spun him out on the last lap.

The Dallas-based team's two drivers in the Expert class, Jay Horak and Carlos Conde, each came away with a second and a third in that division for drivers over 35. Horak, of Mesa, Ariz., drives the AutoEnginuity #37 while Conde was in the #23 carrying the colors of the Monticello Motor Club. He's based in Scarsdale, N.Y.

Conde was making his first start of the year in Pro Mazda, as he's been driving in the Ferrari Challenge series. It was also his first start at Mid-Ohio.

Changing weather conditions added an extra challenge to the weekend.

"We had very temperamental track conditions, as the grip comes and goes with the weather, so you better be ready for sudden changes and be able to adapt," Conde said later. "It's a very technical track. Being fast consistently requires familiarity, an ability to adapt, and to be able to hit your marks at high speed.

"The weather was very inconsistent throughout the race weekend, which added to the challenge. It was a good first experience, and I'm looking forward to the next time so I can be more competitive overall. P2 in my class in Race 1 and P14 overall, gaining four spots from the qualifying grid, was an acceptable first attempt, and the team did a great job supporting me."

Donato started 14th, Horak started 17th and Conde started 18th in Saturday's race, which got off to a slow start when Brian Lift and Julia Ballario had contact in Turn 2 on the first lap.

Donato survived the restart with five laps down even though Kyle Connery went off- and on-course right in front of him. That moved Donato up to 13th, and he stayed in that position until he moved up to 12th working lap 11 after Michael Johnson's car stalled in Turn 4.

Donato got one more spot shortly thereafter when the driver who was second, Kyle Kaiser, dropped back. He remained in 11th place until the white-flag lap, which ironically was his fastest of the race when he turned a 1:22.470. When he reached Turn 4 on that lap he was hit in the rear by the driver who was 12th at the time, which caused him to spin and not complete the last lap. The driver who hit him received a 30-second penalty for the contact, but that didn't restore Donato's 11th-place finish and he was scored in 16th place in the final rundown.

Horak set his fastest lap of the race on lap eight with a 1:25.618, but he only did two more circuits and then was forced to retire when a $2 part that rarely fails let him down and made shifting gears impossible. The defending Expert class champion was 18th in the final rundown, and third in the Expert class.

The punter's penalty actually benefitted Conde, who moved up from 15th to 14th in the final rundown and finished second in the Expert class. He moved up the most in that race among the team's drivers too, as he advanced four positions after starting 18th.

Donato started 14th again on Sunday, with Horak 18th and Conde 19th. This time all three drivers finished the race; Donato got his top-10 finish and Horak and Conde finished second and third, respectively, in the Expert class.

On Sunday there was only one full-course caution, which occurred on the first lap. That moved Donato up to 13th for the restart on lap two, but he was back to 14th shortly thereafter when Connery passed him. He regained 13th on the next lap when he passed Johnson, and he ran in 13th between Ballario and Johnson for most of the race.

He moved into 12th working lap 13 when he passed Ballario, and he got 11th when he passed Brandon Newey four laps later. He moved into the top 10 working lap 18 when he got around Ryan Booth, and he took the checkered on lap 20 in tenth place.

Horak had no mechanical issues on Sunday and he finished 17th overall and second in the Expert class, with Conde right behind him in 18th overall and third in the Expert division.

The next Pro Mazda event is Aug. 16 at the Milwaukee Mile. A doubleheader at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. concludes the season Aug. 23-24.


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