The Mazda MX-5s faced numerous challenges at the historic circuit
SEBRING, Fla.—Freedom Autosport dealt with a bevy of challenges during the two-hour IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Sebring 120 on Friday, but the team left the historic Sebring International Raceway with two top-ten finishes in the ST class.
Andrew Carbonell and Liam Dwyer were seventh in the No. 26 Semper Fi Fund Mazda MX-5 after a hard charge by both drivers. Just behind them in eighth was the No. 27 TRUMPF Mazda MX-5 of Britt Casey, Jr. and Robby Foley. Unfortunately, the No. 25 ModSpace/Spartan Cargo Trailers Mazda MX-5 had a shock failure from contact early in the race that limited Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee to a finish of 16th.
Dwyer started the No. 26 Mazda in 11th and stopped during a full-course caution to hand over to Carbonell, who re-entered the race in 16th. Carbonell instantly began to move forward, bump drafting with Casey in the No. 27 and racing closely with other ST front-runners before crossing the finish line in seventh.
Foley started 10th in the No. 27 Mazda, which welcomed new sponsor Cushman & Wakefield at Sebring. The car had limited time in qualifying due to a drivetrain issue, but when it came time to race, Foley was up to sixth in just 15 minutes. After the driver change, Casey had to deal with a power steering loss but managed to hang on for a finish of eighth.
“Sebring used to be a good top-five track for us, and the Mazda MX-5s do really well in the corners here, but on the long straights, those bigger powered cars are able to motor around us,” said Dwyer. “It’s early in the championship season and we’ve got two top tens to start the year. It’s going to be tough, though. We really need to start getting top fives consistently.”
“Our Mazda MX-5 was great, and Freedom Autosport did a great job setting up the car,” said Carbonell. “It’s one of the strongest cars we’ve had in a while, but as we’ve gotten faster, so has everyone else, and it’s really difficult to get up there and make the position. We kept it clean and came out with a top-ten finish, but I feel like the team deserved so much more for how good the car was and how well everything was executed.”
Foley said, “The start was really hectic. It was the first time I’ve started a Continental Tire race, so it was a little bit different for me, and it was a learning experience. I conserved the car a bit for Britt toward the end of my stint, because we weren’t going to gain anything by pushing the car too much.”
“The car was good: we set it up for the long run on some older tires, knowing that’s what it was going to be like at the end. We picked up a lot of positions in the last 20 minutes,” said Casey. “We just had one little thing happen, and it’s cliché Sebring with the bumps: I had a huge workout with no power steering for 45 minutes! The bumps work these cars super hard, and weird stuff breaks.”
“It wasn’t an ideal situation today,” said McCumbee. “We did this one time at VIR and got a good result out of it, but Sebring just isn’t a track to lose a shock at. It’s not what we wanted, and it’s not what our ModSpace guys deserved. We should have had at least a chance at the podium today, so we’ll regroup and see if we can’t win one at Circuit of the Americas.”
McAleer noted, “Sebring is one of my favorite tracks, so the result is a disappointment. It looked like Chad had a good car, but the right rear shock was damaged on the first lap, and we had to drive around and try to not crash the car at that point. I think we could have been up front with the first five cars, and I hope we get another shot at it at the next race.”
“ModSpace had high hopes for Chad and Stevan this weekend at Sebring,” stated William Mann, Vice President of Business Development for ModSpace. “They came to Sebring with a great car and the experience they needed for success this weekend. They were the highest qualifying drivers for the Freedom team. In race trim the drivers were strong, however they broke a spring that ended their day earlier. ModSpace looks forward to the next race for these guys in a couple of weeks.”
Fans can catch the TV broadcast of the Sebring 120 on FS1 at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 26.
ABOUT FREEDOM AUTOSPORT
Since 2008, Freedom Autosport has been a major force in the ST class of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series, proving the might of the Mazda MX-5s. Between their inaugural season in 2008 and 2016, Freedom Autosport earned 15 wins. Freedom Autosport is named in honor of the men and women of the U.S. military who defend our freedom, and the team is a proud supporter of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Keep up with the team on Facebook and Twitter.
ABOUT MAZDA MOTORSPORTS
Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook.
ABOUT THE SEMPER FI FUND
The Semper Fi Fund provides urgently needed resources and lifetime support for wounded, critically ill and injured members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Case managers from the Semper Fi Fund work one-on-one with service members and veterans in order to understand and support their individual needs right now and throughout their lifetime. We keep our overhead low so our impact on the lives of service members and veterans is greater. The Semper Fi Fund is one of only three veteran charities to receive an “A+” rating from The American Institute of Philanthropy and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator. For more information visit www.semperfifund.org.
TRUMPF Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the TRUMPF Group. Dedicated to serving the manufacturing needs of the American, Canadian and Mexican markets, TRUMPF is currently the largest manufacturer of fabricating equipment and industrial lasers in North America. We offer our customers innovative, high-quality products and solutions in the areas of sheet metal processing, laser-based production processes and electronic applications. Find TRUMPF online at www.us.trumpf.com and on Twitter as @TRUMPFInc.
ABOUT CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD
Cushman & Wakefield is a leading global real estate services firm that helps clients transform the way people work, shop, and live. The firm’s 43,000 employees in more than 60 countries provide deep local and global insights that create significant value for occupiers and investors around the world. Find Cushman & Wakefield at cushmanwakefield.com.
Modular Space Corporation (ModSpace), based in Berwyn, Pa., is the largest U.S.-owned provider of office trailers, portable storage units and modular buildings for temporary or permanent space needs. Building on 50 years of experience, ModSpace serves a diverse set of customers and markets—including commercial, construction, education, government, healthcare, industrial, energy, disaster relief, franchise and special events—through an extensive branch network across the United States and Canada. For more information, visit www.ModSpace.com or http://Blog.ModSpace.com.
ABOUT SPARTAN CARGO TRAILERS
Spartan Cargo Trailers, LLC is located in Alma, Ga., and is a wholesale manufacturer of cargo and utility trailers. Manufacturing the industry’s very-best-quality trailers, Spartan Cargo Trailers provides the widest range of products in the industry including common utility/work trailer, a race car hauler, concession stands, restroom units with options like observations decks, hydraulic lifts, audio/visual equipment or something new and straight out of the box. Simply put, if you can imagine it, we can build it. Spartan Cargo Trailers offers as a standard: fifteen exterior colors, with single and tandem axles, radial tires, screw-less exteriors and awnings just to name a few. With the finest customization department in the industry, Spartan Cargo Trailers has designers that engineer trailers to suit customer wants and needs. https://www.facebook.com/Spartan-Cargo-Trailers-LLC-1686537238299528/