Mazda MX-5 Cup reveals Battery Tender, schedule, global ambitions

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It’s been a big couple days for the Mazda MX-5 Cup series, one of the more entertaining sports car series in the U.S.

Starting Monday at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the series announced Battery Tender as its new title sponsor. The official series name is Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires. Here’s the full release.

For the 2014 season, the total series payout was in excess of $500,000. The top prize of the Mazda MX-5 Cup is a Mazda Scholarship towards the next higher rung of the Mazda SportsCar Racing Academy ladder. 2014 Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion Kenton Koch will use his scholarship to move up to IMSA Prototype Lites for the 2015 season.

The 2015 season will consist of six weekends supporting the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Verizon IndyCar Series, and the NASCAR XFINITY Series. All weekends will be doubleheaders.

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March 18-20  Rounds 1 & 2 Sebring (with TUDOR)
April 10-12  Rounds 3 & 4 NOLA (with IndyCar)
May 1-3      Rounds 5 & 6 Mazda Raceway (with TUDOR)
July 10-12   Rounds 7 & 8 CTMP (with TUDOR)
August 28-30 Rounds 9 & 10 Road America (with NASCAR)
October 1-2  Rounds 11 & 12 Road Atlanta (with TUDOR)

Additionally, the company also announced that the new, just revealed, 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata will be raced in a new Global Cup series, in North America, Europe and Asia.

Starting in 2016, there will be multiple Mazda Global MX-5 Cup series around the world, all using identically-prepared cars. Full details of the Global MX-5 Cup, including which countries will be involved and when the races will take place, will be announced as they are confirmed. The Global MX-5 Cup will culminate at the end of 2016 with a Global Shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, to crown the series champion. Among other prizes, the series champion will receive a one-day test in Mazda’s top-level TUDOR United States SportsCar Championship SKYACTIV prototype race car.

“Since the first Mazda MX-5 Miata took the green flag back in 1990, the car has been the ideal platform for both veterans and rookies alike,” John Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American operations, said. “Because the MX-5 is inherently such a good car to drive, it is an ideal platform to learn basic and advanced racecraft, and this has made the professional MX-5 Cup series very successful to date.”

Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen’s two-man battle in Motocross provides surprises

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
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The 2019 Motocross season is one-third in the books and the title battle may have already come down to a two-man contest, while the pair of contenders might just be a little surprising in their own way.

Strictly by the numbers, no one can count Eli Tomac’s early season charge of first- and second-place finishes shocking, but threepeating in Motocross is such an incredibly difficult feat that no one would have been surprised to see him struggle out of the gates either. And in fact, that is precisely what happened.

Tomac came out of the gates slow in Round 1 and was seventh by the end of Lap 1 of Moto 1 – hardly the auspicious start he hoped for. He rebounded only as far as fourth and that ultimately cost him a chance to win the overall. Tomac won Moto 2 to claim second overall.

In Round 2, Tomac found his rhythm and won both Motos and grabbed the red plate. For the moment, he had the momentum with three consecutive Moto wins.

Tomac stumbled again in Round 3 – this time finishing only fifth in Moto 1 and earning only 16 points to dig a deep hole that eventually surrendered the red plate to Ken Roczen.

It was at Thunder Valley in Round 3 that a pattern emerged. Tomac would not make it easy on himself early in the day, but was more than capable of winning the second Motos to overcome his deficit.

That Roczen has won this season is also not a surprise in itself. Many believed his ascent to the top step of the podium was way overdue.

That he has run so well, however, was not entirely expected at the start of the season. Since injuring both arms in a pair of accidents, Roczen came tantalizingly close to snapping his winless streak a dozen times. He won heat races during the Supercross season and finished second at Anaheim I, Minneapolis, Dallas, and Seattle earlier this year.

He just couldn’t secure the overall win.

Roczen’s Moto 1 victory at Hangtown might have been the precursor to another disappointing weekend, but once Tomac got into the lead, Roczen zeroed in on the Kawasaki’s back tire and finished second in route to the overall victory.

Roczen lost the overall and the red plate to Tomac in Round 2 at Pala, but he stood on the podium in both Motos. Roczen podiumed twice again in Round 3 while taking that overall victory to regain the red plate in what has become a seesaw affair in the early part of the 2019 season.

Last week, Roczen looked more like Tomac with his desperate struggle in Moto 1 and sixth-place finish. That was the first (and so far only) time this season that he failed to stand on the podium.

Roczen’s Moto 2 win last week was just enough to put him second overall with barely enough points to force a tie at the top of the leaderboard with 176 points apiece.

Meanwhile, Tomac failed to win either Moto with a third in the first race and runner-up finish in the second.

The moral victory and advantage may shift to Roczen this week.

As they have swapped the victory in the first four rounds with Roczen winning the odd-numbered events, he sees this weekend’s Round 5 as an opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to next weekend’s race,” Roczen said in a team press release. “The track is sandy. It’s very similar—actually almost identical—to what I ride on a regular basis at home.”

Tomac and Roczen enter Round 5 with a 32-point advantage over two riders tied for third in the standings.

So far Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson have not been in the same league as the leaders, but it only takes one slip of the wheel to fall out of the points in in a race and allow these racers to close the gap.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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