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Andres Prieto arrives in style at Laguna!

Apex Racing League iRacing Mazda Cup Round 2 Race Report

Formerly known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, this undulating Californian circuit provides an ideal venue for round two of the Apex Racing League Mazda Cup. Arriving in Monterey, Roberto Ferrari held a slender 8-point advantage over the dependably consistent Ronald Moons.

Qualifying hailed the arrival of Columbian star, Andres Prieto. Bursting onto the ARL Mazda scene in style, Prieto sped to a debut pole position. Championship leader, Roberto Ferrari, joined Prieto on the front row. Julius Goebels outpaced the AM class field and started fourth overall.

Race 1

Andres Prieto, Roberto Ferrari and Calieb Hydes swiftly asserted their superiority in the opening stages of race one. Within a handful of laps, the leading trio left the rest of the pack to bicker amongst themselves. Andres Prieto announced his championship campaign loud and clear with a flawless drive at the front of the pack.

Ferrari and Hydes matched Prieto’s red-hot pace until the urge to fight one another became too tough to resist. Spotting his opportunity, Prieto hit the afterburners and escaped to a debut win while Ferrari and Hydes scuffled. Eventually, Hydes overhauled his Italian rival for the runner up spot.

Mixing it in the PRO ranks, was AM class winner Johnny Luna. Fourth overall marked an excellent start to an eventful meeting for the American ace.

Race 2

A partly reversed grid placed Roberto Modena on pole position for race two. Alongside Modena on the front row, was Julius Goebels. One of the joys of the Mazda MX5 cup racer is its simplicity. Lightweight, rear wheel drive, and best of all, a manual gearbox. Therefore, executing the perfect getaway is an artform rather than a formality. Julius Goebels’ deployed the launch of the season and catapulted past Modena to lead into the Andretti hairpin.

Race one frontrunners Prieto, Hydes and Ferrari started on the fringes of the top ten. Their respective journeys through the pack proved critical to the final result. Hydes led the charge for the PRO class trio, who made no friends on their way through the pack on lap one. Clearly in a rush, Hydes nerfed a luckless Joseph Saul into the barriers. Roberto Ferrari and Andres Prieto followed as their Australian adversary cleared a path.

On lap two, Calieb Hydes swiftly brought Julius Goebels’ tenure at the front to a close. Roberto Ferrari made his move on Goebels at the Corkscrew, leaving Andres Prieto as the last man to slip past Goebels. Prieto attempted to swoop around the outside of Goebels at Rainey curve, but a light touch sent both cars twirling off the circuit.

With Prieto out of the picture, Hydes and Ferrari locked horns out front. Laguna Seca’s iconic corkscrew has provided an arena for some memorable moments in racing history. Most notably, Valentino Rossi’s dive past Casey Stoner in the 2008 US Moto GP. Channelling his countryman’s spirit, Ferrari lunged for the inside on Hydes and made the move stick. An Italian overtaking an Australian at the corkscrew? How apt!

Despite his earlier clash with Prieto, Goebels recovered to pinch the AM class win late in the race from a wounded Johnny Luna.

Race 3

Apex Racing League regular, Daniel Parmelee, led race three early on from pole position. However, the cavalry was coming, led by Andres Prieto. The Columbian star made a critical difference in the opening laps by carving through the field quicker than Ferrari or Hydes.

Prieto needed only five minutes to reel in Parmelee.  Easing by at the final corner, Prieto was in the clear to scamper away to a second race win of the meeting. Maintaining second position, Ferrari edged out Hydes once again. This exceptional leading trio are set to trade blows throughout the rest of the ARL Mazda Cup season.

Daniel Parmelee took full advantage of his early overall lead to finish fourth and top of the AM class.

Post Race

Immediately after the final race of an entertaining meeting, Daniel Parmelee and Damien McMullen joined the Apex Racing TV commentary team to share their thoughts:

Daniel Parmelee: “I finally had some good luck there! I knew if I could get up front, I had speed. I knew I could hang with the top guys.”

Damien McMullen: “I really enjoyed that again! To all the lads, well done! Clean racing all around. I made a couple of mistakes myself, but that’s racing.”

Next Round

Lime Rock Park in Connecticut hosts round three of the Apex Racing League Mazda Cup. Join the fun on Apex Racing TV on the 15th of March at 8pm GMT.

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Photos by Kevin Zhao

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