April brought NASA Southeast back to the fun and fast track of Roebling Road Raceway. The weather was every bit of perfect for a spring weekend in Savannah, Ga. Twenty Spec Miatas took to the track on Saturday morning where age won over youth as Yan Dia and Keith Williamson set the front row times in qualifying. Dia took pole with a time of 1:22.157 and Williamson was just 4 milliseconds slower with a time of 1:22.161.

Race one started with the Miatas in front of the Lightning field. With a great push from Teen Mazda Challenge driver Dean Dybdahl, Dia took the early lead on lap one. It didn’t take long for Dybdahl to move into the lead, passing Dia on lap two as they entered the back carousel of turns 6 and 7. Dybdahl pulled away from the pack, giving him a huge lead as he worked though out-of-class traffic.

By lap six, Williamson and Peter Rigg were hot on the tail of Dia. The three drafted down the front stretch, with Rigg making a hard charge to the outside of Turn 1, and successfully moving around them both into P2. But Dia began having power issues due to a dying alternator, so he ended up pulling into the pits. With Dybdahl comfortably in the lead, it was now a battle between Rigg, Williamson, Champlin, and Elvington for the top spots. As we’ve seen a lot at Roebling, one car is no match for two working together. On lap 12, Champlin and Williamson drafted along the front stretch, passing Rigg who was all alone. The official podium consisted of Dybdahl in P1, Williamson in P2, and Champlin in P3.

From left: Dean Dybdahl, Javier Laurnaga, Peter Rigg, Yan Dia and Keith Williamson show how close Spec Miata racing is in NASA Southeast.

Race two had Dybdahl starting on the pole and Williamson again starting in P2. The inside line got a great start, allowing Dybdahl, Rigg, and Dia to all advance past Williamson who was on the outside. Come lap two, Dia was able to pass Rigg on the front stretch and move into P2. Dybdahl and Dia stayed in the top two positions for the remainder of the race.

Behind them was a spirited contest for spots three through seven. They raced hard to the end, with Champlin passing Rigg, Elvington, and Williamson for the final podium position. Dybdahl won the race with more than a 10-second lead over second place Dia. The final podium position went to Champlin in P3 who finished just .052 seconds ahead of fourth place finisher Williamson.

Race three was a show. It started off with the Spec Miatas in wave two of the Lighting group, behind the Spec E30s. Dybdahl was on pole and held the lead for the first few laps. But then a full-course caution came out, creating the setup for an epic battle among the leaders. With all classes and cars bunched up, drivers were ready to pounce. When the yellow flags dropped, Dybdahl got a smooth start out front. But the train of Javier Laurnaga, Rigg and Dia were faster as a trio, pushing their way to challenge for the lead.

They raced side by side through turns 1 and 2, just as a car went off track ahead of them. They continued racing through Turn 3, with Rigg tucking behind Dybdahl as they made their way through Turn 4. Another car went off track as they raced to Turn 5, dicing through traffic. Rigg went four wheels off at the exit, which allowed Dia to pass. Then Dybdahl got stalled behind an E30 where Dia was able to challenge him for the lead again in Turn 1. They stayed side by side as yet more cars were off roading ahead of them.

Dybdahl finally took the lead, but now Rigg and Dia were side by side through the back Carousel. Racing hard, Rigg took Turn 7 too wide, going into the dirt and losing momentum. Laurnaga moved into P3 ahead of Rigg, with Elvington and Williamson close in tow. Then all of a sudden Laurnaga’s car stalled on the front stretch and the group drove by him. Williamson had a huge run on Elvington and Rigg, driving his car deep into the outside of T1. While braking, Williamson lost control and spun off into a sand berm. He wasn’t injured, but his race was over.

The last-half action was absolutely every bit of why racing is so great in Spec Miata. Some were sad, some were happy, and some were just glad it was over. Once all the dust settled, Dybdahl had won yet another race, sweeping the weekend. The remaining top five consisted of Dia in P2, Rigg in P3, Elvington in P4, and Champlin in P5.

Teen Mazda Challenge Driver Dean Dybdahl swept Spec Miata at the NASA Southeast event at Roebling Road.



Image courtesy of James Voss

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