This past weekend we were at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for one of the final IMSA events of the year. It’s hard to imagine that the season is already starting to draw near its final races, and being out in Monterey brings back so many special memories of racing success and just true enjoyment of California’s coastline.
The track is such a unique place, from its wild elevation changes to its very sandy, low-grip surface that changes constantly. It really keeps teams on their toes as they try to get traction and the best car setup each and every day. That’s one of the reasons it’s so rewarding to have success at that track. It’s a difficult animal to tame! It really takes a different skillset because of all the unique challenges that Laguna Seca throws at you.
It was a busy event for me, with rounds 11 and 12 of the Idemitsu MX-5 Cup Series as well as the final two North American rounds of Lamborghini Super Trofeo before that series heads to Italy for its World Final.
The racing in MX-5 Cup certainly did not disappoint, with full-course yellows that came out just in time to pack the field for a late-race dash to the finish. It was exciting to see some of the rookies in the championship evolve this year into legitimate race-winning contenders. We had several of the top rookies leading and finishing in the top five in both races at Laguna Seca. It’s always so great to see drivers develop like this throughout the course of a season!
Ashton Harrison has had a pair of race wins in Lamborghini Super Trofeo this season, so she was looking to continue that form at Laguna Seca. Her qualifying skills have really evolved, and she qualified second in class for both races. She’s really hungry to be on the pole next, which means she has developed her driving skills to a point where she’s no longer content just to be near the front of the pack. She wants to lead it!
Race one really proved that mentality, as Ashton held down second place at the beginning of the race. When it was time for the mandatory pit stop, she was able to put in a strong in-lap, pit stop and out-lap to actually undercut the leader, coming out with the class lead. It was really exciting because they were nose-to-tail on track, both before and after the pit stop. She did a phenomenal job managing the pace of the race and taking care of the tires. That’s a tough thing to do on the ultra-slick surface of Laguna Seca!
As the laps went on, Ashton pulled out a bit of a lead before she had some mechanical problems that slowed her pace, though she was able to hang on to finish second. It was really a heartbreaker because execution from the team and driver were spot on, and it was just one of those bad-luck things that happens when everything is going your way. I’m confident that Ashton will bounce back for the finale since she has a lot of momentum, and she has some exciting plans to close out this season.