June 14, 2009 - Lakeville, Connecticut - Phil Mather Earns Another Podium Finish!
Phil Mather was racing in Lakeville, Connecticut this weekend at the famous 1.5 mile, seven turn Lime Rock Park racetrack (www.limerock.com ) for races five and six of the Skip Barber MazdaSpeed Challenge Series.
Weather conditions were a factor for qualifying on Friday morning, leaving the track quite wet, but cleared by Friday afternoon. He knew the track was only going to get better the more traffic ran on it, drying out the parts that were still wet. Mather went out on track and drove quickly to get a good initial qualifying time. When he caught up to traffic, he ducked into the pits to get a gap on the field. He got the gap he needed and placed the car third on grid. Due to a penalty for another driver, Mather ended up starting second, on the outside of the first road.
The start of the race wasn't the best, as Mather missed a shift and dropped back a couple of spots. But by the 2nd lap, he was up to third. A battle with John Tancredi of DILYSI Racing ensued for the next several laps. Mather eventually won the battle for second, but the leader had already pulled away. Mather finished a in a solid second place out of fourteen cars for race one of the weekend.
Starting on the outside of the second row again, Mather got a much better start for race two. He was side-by-side with the pole sitter, Lee Carpentier, for turns one, two, three, AND four, finally edging out the lead by the braking zone to turn five. The lead changed hands a couple of times until lap fifteen of the twenty-three lap race. Mather was in the lead coming out of turn seven, called The Downhilll. The Downhill is a very fast, 100 mph entry speed, right-hand turn down a very steep hill. It flattens out right at the apex of the turn onto the front straight. At the exit of the turn there are some very harsh exit curbs that are designed to warn the driver of the edge of the track. Mather ran over these curbs exiting the turn at close to 100 mph. This caused the brake pads to rattle away from the brake rotor. When this happens, it can cause the car to temporarily loose braking effectiveness. Mather went into turn one and the brake pedal went straight to the floor. Quick pumping up of the brake pedal brought back braking to the car, but it was too late to keep the car on the track and Mather slid off the outside of turn one. He rejoined quickly, only losing one spot in the process, but he was now required to make a pit stop under the Skip Barber rules. He rejoined the race in fifth position and worked his way up to fourth place by the checkered flag.
"It was disappointing to miss the podium for the second race of the weekend, but it could have been a lot worse. The car didn't have any damage and I was able to finish the race."
"The Skip Barber instructors have been a huge help to my racing efforts this year. They are giving me the insights that I was not able to get by racing on my own, and encouraging me to experiment with different racing lines and techniques that I haven't even thought of before. And big thanks to all of the mechanics for keeping the cars running and in great condition. Without having to concentrate on tuning a racecar this year, I am able to focus 100 percent of my effort on my driving."
Mather is currently second place in the Skip Barber MazdaSpeed Challenge Championship points race at the half way point in the racing season.