After suffering a setback to his championship ambitions in the previous round, Brian Lockwood came roaring back at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Tuesday, earning the pole position and leading every lap to become the first repeat winner in the Ricmotech iRacing Global Mazda MX-5 Cup. A fourth-place finish kept Matt Cresci atop the point standings.
Though he started and finished at the front of the field, Lockwood’s race at Mid-Ohio wasn’t exactly easy. Gresham Wagner filled his mirrors from the start, and just after halfway started taking proper looks at a pass.
Lockwood (No. 43 Sick Sideways Racing) was prepared and had enough in reserve to surge ahead with five minutes remaining. There was no stopping him from there to the finish line where he won by 1.713 seconds.
“That race was a lot tougher than it looked,” Lockwood said. “Gresham seemed to be able to pressure me in the section after the back stretch. He was consistently on my bumper there. I maybe had a tenth [of a second] or more in pace, but with the draft, I didn’t have room to breathe all race. Anytime I thought I built a gap, he was back on me again.”
Lockwood is now the first repeat race winner and polesitter in the Mazda MX-5 Cup eSeries, which features drivers that have competed in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires as well as some invitational competitors. He trails Cresci by seven points in the championship heading into the finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca next Tuesday.
“I’m taking this race by race, but we’ve put ourselves in a decent position for the championship, Lockwood added. “Matt has a pretty strong point lead, which will be difficult to overcome, but after a rough race at Road America this win is fantastic.”
In his hunt for the win, Wagner fell into the clutches of 2012 Battery Tender® Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires® Champion Stevan McAleer (No. 28 McCumbee McAleer Racing). McAleer made the pass for second in Turn Four, late in the race. It was his first trip to the Mazda MX-5 Cup eSeries podium.
“What a good race,” McAleer said. “It probably looked boring, but it certainly wasn’t for the three of us! Matt Cresci did a great job in fourth and I knew he was about to lose the draft which allowed me to sit and pick my moves.”
Wagner showed true grit in his bid to take the win from Lockwood, but he had to settle for a third-place finish in the No. 5 Spark Performance entry.
“We were racing hard to break away from the rest of the field,” Wagner said. “It’s always good when you’re in the top three and you can see fourth place fading back. I knew we were going to have a battle for the win, but Stevan got me with a couple minutes to go and I couldn’t get back past. That allowed Brian to get away a bit, so it was not the finish I expected.”
Championship point leader Matt Cresci (No. 59 Slipstream Performance) continued his remarkable run of consistency, finishing fourth.
“I think that was about as good as it was going to be for us,” Cresci said. “I’d never been to Mid-Ohio before so I just wanted to be on pace. We’re having a heat wave out here in California and my electrical breakers all shut down about two hours before the race. I was scrambling to run extension cords across the house. I got it working and was able to get about 30 minutes of practice in.”
Aaron Jeansonne (No. 37 Mazda Road to 24) had his best finish of the series in fifth. If you had seen the times he set in Sunday’s open practice session, however, this wouldn’t surprise you. He attributed his strong performance to the fact that he’d just raced Mid-Ohio in a different iRacing series the week prior.
The Mazda MX-5 Cup eSeries point standings have undergone a big shakeup; Selin Rollan (No. 87 eSelin Motorsports) fell from second to third because of a 16th-place finish, while third place Michael Carter (No. 08 Carter Racing Enterprises) finished the race in 14th and is now fifth in the standings.
The final round of the Ricmotech iRacing Global Mazda MX-5 Cup takes place Tuesday, June 2, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The livestream begins at 8pm ET on the Mazda USA Facebook page and YouTube channel.