ST Team Points Lead|1
SALINAS, Calif.-History repeated itself at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, which was exactly what Freedom Autosport wanted. For the second consecutive year, Freedom Autosport took a one-two finish in the Street Tuner class of GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at the legendary track.
This time around, it was Derek Whitis and Tom Long who led the way, winning the 2.5-hour race in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5. It marked their third podium finish at Laguna: they were second in both 2009 and 2011.
Rhett O'Doski and Andrew Carbonell finished second in the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5. The duo won the race at Laguna last year, the first time the series had visited the track since Freedom's double podium in 2009.
The victory is extra sweet for Whitis and Long, who moved into the ST team points lead. The co-drivers have been consistent top-ten finishers all season, but a win eluded them until Saturday. That top spot gives them a nine-point advantage heading into the final round of the season.
For Whitis, who qualified second with a fast lap of 1:39.925, the win couldn't have been any sweeter. "It's always great to get a win, but to get it here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is perfect," he says. Whitis also notes that a number of Mazda Executives, including Jay Amestoy and John Doonan, were on hand to cheer the team to victory. "Our focus is always to represent Mazda well and to earn points for them in the manufacturer championship, and I can't imagine a better place to do it. This really gives us a lot of momentum heading into the last round at Lime Rock."
"It's a privilege and an honor to get the win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in a Mazda MX-5," adds Long. "We couldn't have asked for a better job from the crew at Freedom Autosport. They gave us fast cars all weekend, and Derek's great qualifying run put us in a strong position right from the start."
After suffering from a string of bad luck, O'Doski and Carbonell were happy to get back on the right track with their second-place finish in the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5.
"This track really suits the Mazda MX-5, and the Freedom Autosport crew gave us a great car," says O'Doski. "We've struggled with various setbacks in the