Mazda MX-5 Cup Journeys to Monterey for Rounds Five and Six

Weekend Notebook: Ferrari on Podium in GT World Challenge America – Victories in Spain and Portugal
May 3, 2023
The Heart of Racing Looking to Chase Championship Lead Heading to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
May 8, 2023
Show all

Mazda MX-5 Cup Journeys to Monterey for Rounds Five and Six

MONTEREY, Calif. (May 8, 2023) – The Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires returns to its spiritual home this week at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It’s the track where the series made its debut in 2006 and where the current ND generation MX-5 Cup car made its debut in 2016. There’s just something about the twists, turns and undulating elevation of this Northern California track that makes the MX-5 come to life.

Leading the charge into Laguna Seca is Connor Zilisch (No. 72 Hixon Motor Sports) who currently stands atop the championship points. The 2022 Rookie of the Year is coming off of a win and runner-up finish on the streets of St. Petersburg but has never raced an MX-5 Cup car at Laguna.

“I’ve only been to Laguna Seca once for a Trans Am race in 2022, but it is definitely one of the top three coolest tracks I’ve ever been to,” Zilisch said. “The views, the hills, the area, the track itself, it’s all gorgeous and I really enjoyed my time there. That being said, going back in the Mazda MX-5 Cup is going to be a ton of fun. Looking back on older races from back in the day, the track races well, and hopefully we will be able to carry the momentum from our Race 2 win at St. Pete.”

Trailing Zilisch by 60 points in the championship is Aaron Jeansonne (No. 24 JTR Motorsports Engineering), who has a special connection to the circuit; he recently relocated to Northern California and now considers Laguna Seca his home track. His love for the circuit isn’t just because of its location, Jeansonne won the 2022 NASA Spec Miata National Championship there last September. He would relish getting his first MX-5 Cup victory there this weekend.

The last time the series raced at Laguna Seca, it was Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Spark Performance) who won both races en route to the 2021 MX-5 Cup Championship. That year, Laguna served as the penultimate round of the season, and Wagner’s double-win gave him the cushion he needed to seal the deal in the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta finale.

The former champion has already scored one win this season in Round Three at St. Petersburg.

Another driver who knows what it feels like to stand on the top step of the podium at Laguna Seca is Selin Rollan (No. 87 Hixon Motor Sports). In 2019, he won here by more than a second, a practically unheard-of large margin of victory in MX-5 Cup. He would love to get a win this weekend as it’s been more than a year since his last trip to victory lane.

Rookie Heather Hadley (No. 54 Spark Performance) is familiar with Laguna Seca, but not in a track experience kind of way. Hadley grew up in Vallejo, California, which makes Laguna Seca her ‘home track’ on the calendar and she’ll enjoy the support of many family members this weekend. She’s never raced at the track, but she has been around it in an MX-5 Cup car; as a passenger in the Mazda safety car when she was 12 years old.

It’s a Mazda memory coming full circle for Hadley, who is this year’s recipient of Mazda’s Women’s Initiative Scholarship. The 22-year old is quickly making the most of it, scoring her first top-10 finish in Race Two at St. Pete. Hadley was also recently announced as a nominee for IMSA’s Diverse Driver Development Scholarship.

There are no guarantees in MX-5 Cup racing except that it will be some of the best you see all weekend. Make sure to watch live on, Saturday, May 13 at 2:50pm ET and Sunday, May 14 at 11:35am ET.