First day of ‘Roar’ complete for Conti Tire Challenge

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The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series has gotten its first two practice sessions of the weekend in at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

Leading the way this morning at Daytona was the GS class No. 09 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage, which logged a lap of 109.725 miles per hour at 1 minute, 56.801 seconds. Second on the charts was the No. 158 Multimatic Ford Mustang (drivers Ian James and Billy Johnson) at 109.594 mph/1 minute, 56.941 seconds, followed by two entries from Fall-Line Motorsports in third and fourth position.

The afternoon session saw one of those Fall-Line BMW M3s, the No. 46 (drivers Trent Hindman and John Edwards), place second on the charts behind the leading No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M3 (drivers Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana), which topped out at 110.055 mph/1 minute, 56.451 seconds. Third-quickest in the afternoon was the No. 32 Phoenix American Ford Mustang (drivers Kurt Rezzitano and Andrew Aquilante).

All of the aforementioned vehicles and drivers were part of the GS – Grand Sport – category. As for the ST – Street Tuner – category, the No. 56 Murillo Racing BMW 328i (drivers Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss) set the pace in the morning (101.873/2 minutes, 5.804 seconds) and in the afternoon as well (101.865/2 minutes, 5.813 seconds).

The CTSCC will have another pair of practice sessions tomorrow at 11 a.m. ET and 2:45 p.m. ET.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne