Monterey California’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca hosted the ninth round of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. The two-hour race featured one of the most exciting battles for the MINI JCW Team to date.
Colin Mullan continued his impressive run of front row qualifying efforts with another second place performance in the 52. Mullan ran an extended stint, swapping positions with the competition multiples time in the ultra-competitive event before handing the car off to Mark Pombo. Mark had a solid run, but was never quite able to make up ground lost when the team opted for different pit strategy for the 52, eventually crossing the line in 5th.
Not the result we were hoping for at [WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca] this weekend. We took a gamble on strategy that didn’t pay off, but it was worth a shot as we didn’t quite have the pace to challenge the leaders. – Colin Mullan
Nate Norenberg and Derek Jones were in the 37 again for this event. Norenberg did well to keep the car out of trouble as the action on the track was hectic at times. Most of the ST field was together during his run leading to frequent position changes.
Roughly forty minutes into the event a full course yellow was displayed leading to pit-stops. Norenberg entered the pits behind the leading BMW, but thanks to another outstanding pit-stop by the MINI JCW Team crew, the 37 was able to win the race off pit-road.
Derek Jones closed out the event for the 37 and eventually crossed the line in 4th position.
Mat Pombo took over for Mike LaMarra in the 73 during the same pit sequence. When the race returned to green it didn’t take long for Mat to move into the lead. He drove at a blistering pace, scoring the fastest lap of the race in the ST class.
Mat was in for a fight though, as the 81 BMW, which had showed the most speed in the event, caught up to him with roughly 45 minutes to go. For the next half hour Mat put in one of the most impressive driving performances you will ever see. Mat was able to maintain his impressive pace as the 81 constantly hounded him, filling up his mirrors and often getting side-by-side but unable to take away the position.
Eventually the overall speed advantage for the 81 proved to be to much though, and with 15 minutes to go they grabbed the lead. Mat continued on, focused on securing a podium finish when the GS class number 15 Mustang hit him hard in the side. The 73 went spinning but Mat did a masterful job at controlling the car and avoiding the wall. Despite the spin he was able to recover and earn a second place finish for the MINI JCW Team.
MINI trails BMW by two points in the manufacturers standings with one race to go. It all comes down to Road Atlanta. The manufacturer with the highest finishing car will win the ST championship.
The final season of the ST class concludes with the Fox Factory 120 at Road Atlanta. Be sure to tune in at 1:15 PM on Friday, October 12 as the team looks to secure a historic championship for MINI.
About the MINI JCW Team
The MINI JCW Team, operated by LAP Motorsports (@lapmotorsports), drives MINI’s most powerful Hardtop ever in the two-door John Cooper Works. The team competes in the fiercely competitive IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. For additional information please visit minijcwteam.com or email email@example.com.