Alton, Virginia (March 11, 2018) â€“ Peter Ensor, of Finksburg, Maryland, drove a nearly flawless race to win in the rain on Sundayâ€™s Spec MX-5 Challenge East Series Round Two race at Virginia International Raceway.
Ensor had a 9.697-second lead over Manny Martinez in second place at the end of the 25-minute race in their identically prepared Mazda MX-5 machines. That gap had grown to over 14 seconds through the race, but with the lead Ensor backed off to take his win.
The win catapults Ensor into the early lead of the season-long championship, collecting 19 of a possible 20 points in the inaugural weekend with a pair of podium finishes.
â€œIt was a great day,â€ Ensor said. â€œAt the start in the rain, the guys behind me started having some trouble in turn one. I got out front and tried to drive as smooth as I could. I got away from the pack. I had a little adversity, I got stuck in fourth gear, but I had enough of a lead that I could hold on to the end.â€
Martinez spent the race in the Island Motor Cars/Atlanta Speedwerks MX-5 batting with Nick Bruniâ€™s MX-5. The pair swapped positions several times early in a battle for third, which became a fight for the silver medal when Zack Month spun on lap six.
Month restarted in fifth, but made the podium battle a three-car fight again by the final lap.
With Month and Bruni now battling, Martinez found some breathing room just in front and finished second by three car lengths.
â€œWhat a day,â€ Martinez said. â€œPeter had an amazing race and just ran away with it, but me and Nick battled for second position for most of the race. We exchanged positions a few times. It was super slick and super challenging, but I actually enjoyed it.â€
Despite the spin, Month was side by side with Bruni through several corners on the final lap. Bruni kept in front, but Month was able to pick up the draft coming out of the final corner and moved his nose to the front at the stripe.
The finish was Monthâ€™s second third-place in as many days to open the season, as well as his second Hard Charger award.
â€œPeter is just an absolute animal out there on the track,â€ Month said. â€œHe was actually in my sights for a little while there, I was holding steady in second until I was going through â€˜Hogpen,â€™ which is a little dip off camber. I ended up doing a nice 720, and threw it back in first gear. By that point, Manny and Nick had passed me. I stuck to it, and didnâ€™t give up at that point, and I got back to third by the end of the race.â€
Bruni was fourth for the second time in as many races, followed by John Allenâ€™s iRacing/Defined Autoworks/Atlanta Speedwerks MX-5.
Ensor leads the weekend with the $100,000 championship lead. Month and Martinez follow with 36 and 35 points, respectively, while race one winner Jason Connole sits fourth with 34 points after a seventh-place finish on Sunday, tied with Bruni.
The Spec MX-5 Challenge East Series returns to VIR for Rounds Three and Four, May 9 â€“ 11.
ALTON, Virginia â€“ Official race results from Sundayâ€™s Spec MX-5 Challenge East Series Round Two of 10 at Virginia International Raceway with finish position, starting position in parentheses, name and sponsor listed.
1. (2), Peter Ensor, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
2. (4), Manny Martinez, Island Motor Cars/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
3. (6), Zack Month, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
4. (1), Nick Bruni, Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
5. (3), John Allen, iRacing/Definied Autoworks/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
6. (8), Tyler Harrell, JTC Racing/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
7. (5), Jason Connole, Protech Bedliners/Trimark Digital/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
8. (7), Jose Garcia, KEEM Corp./Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
9. (10), Joe Catania, New York Spine & Wellness Center/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5
10. (9), Assen Rachev, Stable Energies/Possien-Hall Motorsports Development/BGN Racing/Atlanta Speedwerks Mazda MX-5