John Edwards and Trent Hindman (GS) and Andrew Carbonell and Randy Pobst (ST) took wins in Round 3 of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season, the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda.
Edwards and Hindman snapped their run of two runner-up finishes to open the season in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3, and for Hindman, it’s his first career CTSC victory.
Meanwhile, Carbonell and Pobst made it back-to-back wins in the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, after also winning at Sebring. For Freedom Autosport, it’s the team’s fourth consecutive victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
There were five GS cars that went on an off sequence strategy that briefly took the polesitting Edwards/Hindman BMW out of the lead, but when they stopped, that brought the No. 46 back to the lead.
Hindman ran a clean opening stint before handing to Edwards; Edwards held off a charge from Lawson Aschenbach, in the No. 01 CKS Autosport Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R on the seventh and final restart with just more than five minutes remaining, to secure the win.
Aschenbach and Eric Curran finished second; Curran led most of the opening stint. Hindman made a pass of Curran at Turn 5 just past the one-hour mark, and held the lead through the single pit stop cycle.
“I knew those guys got ahead in the beginning of the race, but my goal was just to be patient and bide our time,” Hindman said. “We finally got it done and gave the car over in one piece for John. John drove an outstanding stint. No one gave him an inch, and he was flawless. Big thanks to the whole Fall-Line team and all our partners.”
Kris Wilson completed an excellent drive in the No. 07 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage to claim the final podium position in GS with a last lap pass of Dane Cameron exiting Turn 11. Wilson co-drove with Max Riddle to end third after starting in fifth.
Cameron and Tim Bell, in the No. 28 Tim Bell Racing Nissan 370Z still bounced back after suffering front end damage on the opening lap of the race. A second Nissan, the No. 14 Doran Racing Nissan 370Z of Brad Jaeger and BJ Zacharias, completed the top five.
In ST, a trio of Mazda MX-5s dominated the class, but collectively put on a show between them in the green flag portions of the race.
The pair of CJ Wilson Racing MX-5s and the No. 26 Freedom Autosport MX-5, which won at Sebring, consistently held the top three positions.
In the second half of the race, Carbonell in Freedom’s No. 26 and Tyler McQuarrie in CJWR’s No. 3 engaged in a barnburner of a battle where they exchanged the lead several times. Stevan McAleer, in the No. 5 CJWR entry, had a front-row seat to it all.
On the second-to-last restart, McAleer and McQuarrie got ahead of Carbonell, but the Freedom driver would not be denied. On lap 64, having already got past McQuarrie for second, Carbonell completed an outside pass of McAleer through and exiting the left-handed Turn 5 on the run up the hill into Turn 6.
“Mazda Raceway is a great track for our Mazda cars,” Carbonell said. “It’s been against Honda or BMW in previous years, but now it was against two MX-5s with me. There were three of us out there battling, and they didn’t make it easy. But it couldn’t get cleaner. There’s a mutual respect, and I have to give thanks for a clean race, with no contact, and we gave each other the room.”
By the end of the race McQuarrie had rebounded for second in the No. 3, which he shared with pole sitter and series debutante Elliott Skeer. McAleer had to settle for third in the No. 5 car he shared with starting driver Chad McCumbee.
A pair of BMWs, the No. 23 Burton Racing BMW 128i (Terry Borcheller, Mike LaMarra) and the No. 81 Bimmerworld BMW 328i (Greg Liefooghe, Tyler Cooke) finished best of the rest in fourth and fifth. Borcheller made a last lap pass of Liefooghe for fourth.
Seven cautions interrupted the race; two cars (Ramin Abdolvahabi, No. 91 Irish Mike’s Racing Hyundai Genesis and Scott Maxwell, No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302R) had rollover accidents but both drivers emerged unscathed following their incidents.
The next round for CTSC will be at Lime Rock Park, as the Memorial Day weekend headliner, Saturday, May 24.