May 3, 2009 -Danville, Virginia: A Successful Start to the Racing Season!
The first weekend of May began the racing season for Phil Mather and Team Mather Motorsport at the world famous motorsports resort Virginia International Raceway. Phil was not racing his usual SpecMiata, however. A new challenge presented itself and Mather had to take the chance. That challenge was the Skip Barber Racing School Mazdaspeed Challenge.
The Mazdaspeed Challenge is a racing series run by the Skip Barber Racing School. All cars are equalized many times throughout the weekend by the school's instructors ensuring equal performance in all of the Mazda MX-5 racecars. This makes the racing series a true test of driver's skill and not the racecar.
The weekend began on Thursday with a lapping session to get used to the racecars and the track. Mather had never driven an MX-5 before and also had never been to VIR's 2.25, 17+ turn racetrack. Friday was a practice day held under race conditions. Mather was strong right away turning lap times just slightly slower than the instructors, and was already one of the fastest drivers.
The competition began on Saturday with a morning qualifying session. Mather qualified fourth in the 15 car field. At the start of the race, he got a great start and was up in second immediately and fighting for the lead. He held second place for all 15 laps until the last turn of the last lap. A slower car was on the racing line, forcing Phil to slow down just slightly in order to get a good passing opportunity. Coming on to the front straight, the third place car had caught up and gotten into Mather's draft. At the finish line, he passed Mather and dropped Phil to third by 0.128 seconds, less than half a car length. Mather finished on the podium in his first race in a new car at a new track in a new racing series in third place! Quite an accomplishment
The third place finish placed Mather in the third starting position for Sunday's race. Mather again got an incredible start, passing everybody in front of him with two wheels in the grass headed to turn one. He captured the lead by turn two and held it for the first two laps. He was battling with the top two positions for several laps. Just ahead the first two racers were battling, and one went four wheels off in the dirt. Mather then was back in second place and right on the back bumper of the leader. For the rest of the 15 lap race, Mather was only a couple of car lengths away from the lead, but gaining slowly. At the end of the race, he finished in second position, only one second behind the leader, but over seven seconds ahead of third place. He missed the fastest lap of the race by only 0.05 seconds.
At the awards ceremony, Mather not only collected the third and second place trophy's, but also the Rookie of the Race Award!
Phil Mather will be deciding in the next few days where his racing is going to lead him. He may take a break from the SCCA National series and move over to the Skip Barber MX-5 Challenge to see what opportunities it brings. Many, many top professional drivers have gone throught the Skip Barber series', including Indy 500 winners, Nascar champions, and Sports Car racing champions. Stay tuned for the news and future updates about Phil Mather and Team MatherMotorsport
For more information about:
Skip Barber: www.SkipBarber.com
Virginia International Raceway: www.VIRClub.com