Mazda Prototypes Lites R1 & R2 at Sebring

16-18 March, 2016, Sebring, Florida, USA 14, Michael Whelden, L1, M, Elan DP-02 ©2016, Jake Galstad LAT Photo USA
16-18 March, 2016, Sebring, Florida, USA
14, Michael Whelden, L1, M, Elan DP-02
©2016, Jake Galstad
LAT Photo USA

We just finished rounds 1 & 2 of the Mazda Prototype Lites presented by Cooper Tire championship at Sebring International Raceway. This was my first time in the Elan DP-02 with the Mazda MZR 2.0. I have raced Pro Mazda before which is the same tub as the DP-02, but that’s where the similarities end. The DP-02 has a wider track, and larger front tires. The car also has a full tunnel design underneath which creates double the down-force. All I can say is the car is an absolute blast to drive.

These first rounds were also my first time racing at Sebring. Most told me it was bumpy, and the track definitely delivered. I ran with World Speed Motorsports and we showed up last second to the race do to finalizing my funding. We were behind the eight ball when we showed up. Thankfully the team did an excellent job and we slowly found our pace and set up as we did testing. A small gearbox problem ended our test day early, but we knew where we could find speed. The next day was just practice, and we made more changed to the car and continued to find more pace. Then came qualifying and we thought we had a good shot at a top five, however, a shortened qualifying do to a accident put us P9. I knew it was going to be a good race though, as I was up 1.7 seconds when the red flags came up. We defiantly had the pace of the front runners, just needed some track time.

Round 1 started and I passed three cars in the opening corners. I then passed another a couple laps later, at this point I had some real estate to reel the top four in. I put in the second fastest lap of the race here, and with three to go made a move for P4. We were super happy with a P4, and even more exuberant with a front row start for round 2. Round 2 has a 45 minute four car race for the lead. After a couple of late yellows I took home P3 and my first podium in the series. Such an incredible weekend to show up with no knowledge of the car or track and end up with a podium.