Rollan Prevails in Three-Wide Finish by 0.001 Seconds in another Thriller
SEBRING, Fla. – Rounds 3 and 4 of the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires at Sebring International Raceway did not disappoint when it came to dramatic racing. Selin Rollan (No. 87 Hixon Motor Sports) earned his first win of the year by a slim 0.001 seconds, while a win in Race 2 helped Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Spark Performance) hold onto his championship lead.
In Round 3 on Thursday, pole sitter Gresham Wagner led a three-car train that included Rollan and reigning Mazda MX-5 Cup champion Michael Carter (No. 08 Carter Racing Enterprises) for most of the race. Wagner and Rollan traded spots in the early laps, but Wagner eventually took control and the trio pulled away from the rest of the field.
Even after a full-course caution bunched the field back up, the three drivers were able to pull away once more and resume their fight.
On the final lap, Carter, Wagner and Rollan were pushing each other hard for the top spot. The order had already changed three times as the pack exited the final turn for one last drag race to the finish line. A fourth and final lead change came as the three cars crossed the stripe door-to-door-to-door. The timing screen showed Rollan as the winner by 0.001 seconds over Carter, making it the second-closest finish in Mazda MX-5 Cup history. Wagner was just 0.013 seconds behind in third place.
“Once the white flag came out, we were racing hard and I was able to get by Gresham,” Rollan said after the race. “I got by Carter on the back straightaway. We all went deep into (Turn) 17 and I got a run on Gresham. Then, passing the start/finish line, I had no idea that Michael was even there or that we even won the race. So, I went through that whole cool down lap not knowing where we finished.”
Although Rollan and Wagner were once again battling for the lead in the first half of Round 4 on Friday, a flat tire derailed Rollan’s race and took him out of contention for a repeat win.
Instead, it was Wagner and Carter battling for the honor. Carter waited until the final corner of the last lap to make his move, but Wagner had his number. Carter ran too wide in Turn 17 and Wagner was able to hold the inside line and speed away to the checkered flag by 0.964 seconds.
“I didn’t know what to expect (on the restart) because Michael wasn’t up there for most of the race, and I knew with the restart he was going to be hungry to get up there and try to get the win,” Wagner said.
“He worked well with me to make it a showdown between just us two at the end, and you know, it was going be a good finish regardless of whether it’s him or if I got the win – so I’m a little bit happier that it was me across the line first! But overall it was great race and I’m happy we worked so well together again,” he concluded.
Completing the Friday podium was 2019 series champion Bryan Ortiz (No. 4 Copeland Motorsports).
After four races, Wagner leads Carter by 150 points, with Rollan 270 out of the lead.
Mazda MX-5 Cup heads to the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, for Rounds 6 and 7. Both races will take place Saturday, April 24, the first scheduled for 8:35 a.m. ET and the second at 4:20 p.m. ET. Both races will stream live on IMSA.com and on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.