Monday, June 17, 2013

Rayhall revels in Mid-Ohio racing tradition and glory

A peak into the business end of Sean Rayhall's Mazda-powered Elan DPo2. Image Credit: Racelite Protection

Rayhall revels in Mid-Ohio racing tradition and glory

His first time at taking to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in anger gave the young driver with the familiar sounding name ... especially here, very familiar results.

The road course at Mid-Ohio will always be linked in motor culture lore as the home turf of the Rahal racing family, and more clearly, Bobby Rahal.

Bobby Rahal and his father, Mike, visited the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for its first-ever race in 1962, and throughout his motorsports career Rahal has been tied to the track and its former owner Jim Trueman.

In addition to other series, Rahal competed in 16 Indy car races on the road course, earning victories in 1985 and 1986 - on his way to the CART championship, six other podium finishes, and pole starts in 1983 and 1985.

Bobby Rahal, in a 2012 interview to said, "In 1987, I made a mistake and tried to pass a guy I was lapping and he came down on me and flattened the tire with a few laps to go and (Roberto) Guerrero won instead and I had been well in the lead."

Sean Rayhall, for his first time experience, also contended with moves that may be common for the track layout at Mid-Ohio with its elevation changes, corner-leading-to-corner, and fast sections design.

Sean Rayhall in the #14 Robert Talbott Motorsports, Racing Radios, Race Lite Protection, Comprent Motorsports prepared Mazda-powered Elan DP02. Image Credit: Robert Talbott Motorsports®

Through the qualifications, young Rayhall had little trouble with cars 'coming down' on his car in the corners because, after all, this session was only for where one was to start the races for the weekend.

Qualifications for the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda ,at the Diamond Cellar Classic June 14-16, 2013, was interrupted by two RED Flags but through it all Sean Rayhall was able to prevail over his next closest competitor, Ryan Booth by a margin of 0.086 seconds on the 2.258 mile, 13 turn road course. Booth, in car #18, was able to post a fastest lap on LAP 6 of 1:18.530 only to have it eclipsed by Sean on the very next lap at 1:18.444 on LAP 7 of the qualification session. The other competitors in the field were in the 1:20.000's or beyond.

Rayhall, for his part, after the first RED Flag stoppage posted a lap of 1:18.474 on LAP 13, just before the second RED Flag stoppage just to make sure that his car would beat the best qualifying time laid down by the #18 car of Booth's.

Round 5, however, saw the following mechanical event that effected the outcome of the first race of the weekend.

The Diamond Cellar Classic In Round 5 Rough For Rayhall ... After leading for 14 of the eventual 18 laps (timed 30 minute race session), posting the fastest lap time of the race - 1:19.326 (as opposed to the next fastest - 1:19.780), and creating as much as a 4 second lead gap before the first of two YELLOW Flags that led to thirteen minutes of the timed 30 minute race to be run under caution. Sean Rayhall finishes Round 5 in P2 to end up being tied in the points championship at 76 points with #18 Ryan Booth.

Round 5 podium with Ryan Booth P1 (c), Sean Rayhall P2 (l), and Daniel Goldburg P3 (r). Image Credit:

In an exclusive post race interview, Sean Rayhall shared what happened on the second restart that led to being passed by car #18 - "Left rear (brake) caliper ceased up. It was completely locked when I stopped in the pit (at race's end), went down off the back-straightway into the braking zone and the car just turned sideways before the corner, saved it from an off, got passed, and wasn't able to achieve over 500 lbs. of brake load without the car coming out from under me. Definitely not the result we were hoping but I salvaged what I could."

So five races into a 14 race season have the points race tied largely explained through two race-time equipment failures on the #14 Comprent Motorsports Elan DP02. The first race of the season netted zero points out of a possible total of 20 for the young Rayhall due to a transmission linkage failure.

Round 6, contested the very next day, Sunday June 16, 2013, Father's Day, saw the kind of move (twice) that had happened to Bobby Rahal late in the race where he lost his bid to 'three-peat' at the famed Mid-Ohio road course when the eventual winner was Roberto Guerrero. In this case, the outcome was dramatically different.

Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series grid for Round 6. Image Credit: imsalites via Twitter

Rayhall Regains Luster in Diamond Cellar Classic Round 6 ... In what could be a bit of deja vu for a race car driver with the same sounding name at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Sean Rayhall survives a car 'coming down' on his car twice in the Round 6 of 14 2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series.

The race went GREEN Flag after the Keyhole Turn 4 which allows the cars to sort themselves out along the back straight through Turn 5. In this case, according to Rayhall in a post race phone conversation, the #18 car of Ryan Booth 'came down' on me, we touched and spun. "I re-entered the track at P15 and was able to make up two positions by the end of the first lap (no YELLOW Flag full course caution).

One corner leads to another flow at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Image Credit:

The following Tweets from the Prototype Lites twitter account (@imsalites) and entries from @TheEDJE -

Prototype Lites ?@IMSALites
Contact between @seanrayhall and @RyanBoothRacing on lap one. Rayhall has continued, Booth is off driver's left in the gravel trap Turn 4.

@seanrayhall dropped back to P10 after the incident and has now moved up to P7 on lap 4.

P5 on LAP 6

@seanrayhall working his way back up, eight minutes into the race and is now P5. #CooperLites

P4 LAP 7

@seanrayhall passes @ChrisPoto22 entering Lap 7 to take fourth position. #CooperLites #DiaClrClassic

12 minutes in @seanrayhall gets around Jon Brownson on lap 7 to take P3. #CooperLites #DiaClrClassic

P3 LAP 10 - @seanrayhall rapidly catching the top two and just turned the fastest lap of the race: 1:19.524. #CooperLites #DiaClrClassic

P2 LAP 11 - @seanrayhall's nose is right on the tail of Goikhberg as he battles for the second position. #CooperLites

Daniel Goldburg remains the leader, @seanrayhall now P2. #CooperLites

LAP 13 - Rayhall - 1:19.357

@seanrayhall pressuring Goldburg now for the lead entering Lap 14 at @FollowMidOhio. #CooperLites #DiaClrClassic

19:29 - left @seanrayhall has been putting pressure on Daniel Goldburg for five laps now, but Goldburg hanging onto the lead entering lap 17.

@seanrayhall and Daniel Goldburg side-to-side contact made, but both continued. Goldburg still leads heading into Lap 18. 20 mins to go!
- break in tweets-

Here is where Sean recounts that Daniel Goldburg 'came down' ("door-slammed") on his car while having the inside position in the Carosel Turn 14 by no less that 3/4th of a car length after Goldberg drove in a manner that could be characterized as very fat for several laps. In this case, unlike what had happened to Bobby Rahal in the 1987 passing of a back-marker, Sean Rahall went on in a very strong way putting additional time distance between him and the next closest competitor, #10 JDC Motorsports Mazda of Mikhail Goikhberg, on each sucessive lap.

- resume tweets -
@seanrayhall is the new leader now on Lap 18 after getting past Daniel Goldburg at @FollowMidOhio. #CooperTires #DiaClrClassic

Daniel Goldburg is now off the track, driver's left Turn 4. Mikhail Goikhberg is now P2.

15 mins remain at @FollowMidOhio! @seanrayhall P1, Mikhail Goikhberg P2, Jon Brownson (M) P3, @ChrisPoto22 P4, Lamont Harris (M) P5.

13 minutes left LAP 23 - @seanrayhall is 10.213 seconds ahead of P2 Mikhail Goikhberg

LAP 25 - @seanrayhall is 11.544 seconds ahead of P2 Mikhail Goikhberg - turning laps in the 1.20s

7 minutes left - LAP 27 - @seanrayhall is 14.185 seconds ahead of P2 Mikhail Goikhberg - still turning laps in the 1.20s

5 minutes remain - LAP29 - @seanrayhall is 21.508 seconds ahead of P2 Mikhail Goikhberg - 1:19.778

The white flag is out. Last lap here at @FollowMidOhio. #CooperLites #DiaClrClassic

1 minute remains - LAP 32 - @seanrayhall is 27.828 seconds ahead of P2 Mikhail Goikhberg

@seanrayhall sees the checkered flag first and takes Race Two at @FollowMidOhio! #CooperLites #DiaClrClassic
- end of tweets -

Image Credit: Robert Talbott Motorsports®

The race ended with the #14 Robert Talbott Motorsports, Racing Radios, Race Lite Protection, Comprent Motorsports prepared Mazda-powered Elan DP02 having a 30.088 second lead.

Sean Rayhall shared that the team entered the weekend short handed given that the team race engineer, Mike Davies could not be physically at the track for the weekend which left the duties to Sean and the Crew Chief who usually provides the data analysis, Brandon White, to ... multitask!

Quite a charge and brilliant luster (from P15 to the win in Round 6) that capped a weekend that saw mechanical failure, followed by tough driving and 'coming down' tactics result producing a seven point lead in the series championship at The Diamond Cellar Classic run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

... notes from The EDJE

**Article first published as Rayhall Revels In Mid-Ohio Racing Tradition And Glory on Technorati**

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