Landy Goes Two-for-Two in Mazda MX-5 Cup at Road Atlanta

Sebastian Landy, of Great Falls, Virginia, completed the weekend sweep at Road Atlanta after winning Round 12 of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires. Kenton Koch, of Glendora, California, and Joey Bickers, of Moorpark, California, completed the podium. 
Landy notched his second career win, and first weekend sweep, in Mazda MX-5 Cup competition in the final round of the 2014 season. In the No. 49 Motorsports Group MX-5, Landy controlled most of the race that averaged 77.867 mph around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit by leading 17 of 23 laps. The race was slowed by wet conditions and an aborted start as the leaders picked up the throttle too early.
While Landy controlled the field from the front, Koch was pushing hard contesting for the race win, however Landy proved to have what it took to win.
“It was definitely a great weekend,” Landy said. “Coming into it, we were just looking for a good result. After qualifying, we knew we didn’t have a great starting position in sixth for both races even though we were only 0.6-second off the pole speed.
“It’s a draft track here, and you’re always going to be in the mix for the win as long as you stay toward the front. It feels good to be consistent and run at the front like that, without any problems. Whatever we do next year, it think it will give us a good push in the right direction.”
In the No. 12 ALARA Racing/Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5, Kenton Koch was trying to end his 2014 campaign on top. He was scored as the leader of the opening two laps until Landy was able to make the pass for the lead during lap three. At that point, Koch stayed within two car lengths of Landy. On lap 12, Koch was able to retake the lead but could not hold off the charging Landy and lost the lead two laps later.
With the Championship in hand, Koch was content with a second-place finish in the race.
“It feels good now that it’s all over,” Koch said. “Coming into this weekend, we knew anything could happen. But, I was feeling pretty good and just wanted to focus on having fun.
“The race went well. I didn’t have any incidents, which was good. The car got a little loose at the end with the drying track. Sebastian [Landy] was quick and had a good car under him. He was able to pull away from me, but I just was trying to keep from doing anything stupid. I can’t thank the ALARA guys enough for providing me a great car all year long. I also have to thank BFGoodrich Tires and Mazda for providing an awesome ladder system. Without that, I couldn’t be here.”
Bickers was able to notch his first career Mazda MX-5 Cup podium after he piloted the No. 29 Mazda Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5 to a third-place finish. Starting 10th, Bickers found himself in the middle of an intense mid-pack shuffle for position. He bounced between sixth and ninth until he was able to make his move toward the front of the field, on lap 20. By lap 21, Bickers worked his way up to the rear bumper of Ara Malkhassian. On the final lap of the race, Bickers was able to get around Malkhassian and took his teammate, Devin Jones, with him.
“This is my first podium finish this season, so I’m really happy,” Bickers said. “I think the rain gave me a little bit of an advantage. It seemed like some of these guys were taking it a bit easy toward the end, but I saw a dry line forming. So, I just pushed as hard as I could.
“Thank you to C.J. Wilson Racing for giving me a great car. We were rushing to get these rain tires on at the last minute, but we got it done and came home with a good result.”
Fourth place marked the highest finish for Jones in his rookie year of the series, while behind the wheel of the No. 35 Veristor MX-5. He spent much of the race just behind Malkhassian until getting a boost from Bickers.
Malkhassian brought his No. 11 ALARA Garage/ALARA Racing MX-5 home in fifth, in the final Mazda MX-5 Cup race of 2014. Malkhassian, who started fourth, fought hard for track position with several cars. By lap 19, he had made his way to third but was unable to hold the position to the checkered flag as a dry line began to form on the racing surface.
In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut, took the final-round win of 2014. In the No. 61 Project Yellow Light, SBMX-5, Albano was the polesitter but lost the lead by the time the field came back around after the green flag. He spent the remaining 22 laps in a close-quarters battle with Robby Foley, trading the lead four times at the line.
“There wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t being challenged for position, and that’s the best type of race you can possibly have,” Albano said. “I would like to thank the other drivers for the clean racing we had out there. With the rain this morning, it came down to finding the dry line as quickly as possible and we were able to do that.
“It feels great to finish second in the Championship at the end of my first season. I felt like I was closer to Drake [Kemper] most of the weekend, and going into the final race you never know what can happen. I’m happy to come back next year and compete for the Mazda scholarship, again. There wasn’t a weekend where I didn’t learn something.”
Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, finished second, but it wasn’t enough to improve his standing in the Championship. He remained third in the year-end standings. Bryan Hixon, of San Antonio, Texas, was the third driver on the podium in the No. 63 Blackmore Partners/xBorder Foods & Wine SBMX-5. That marked his best finish of the season since his class win in Round Two at Sebring.
Following yesterday’s race, Koch had already claimed the Championship title with 742 points. John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, finished 112 markers behind while Landy finished third, with 601 points.
In the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, California, finished the season in first after collecting 689 Championship points. Albano finished second, 36 markers behind. Foley was third with 642 points.
Trophies and checks for the top 10 drivers in the season-long standings will be awarded at the banquet later tonight.
Adam Sinclair