MATOS SURVIVES THREE ROAD ATLANTA RESTARTS FOR TA2 WIN
March 31, 2019
BRASELTON, Ga. (31 March, 2019)- In what turned out to be a three-lap shootout to the checkered flag, defending TA2 powered by AEM champion Rafa Matos wheeled the No. 88 3Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro to his second consecutive victory at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA2 class on Sunday. The win marks the second for the Brazilian driver this season as the 2018 champion targets a second title.
Driving the No. 40 Prefix Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger, Marc Miller claimed his second runner up result of the season, with Dillon Machavern in the No. 77 Liqui-Moly Prefix Ford Mustang completing the podium in third.
All three (Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford) manufacturers were represented on the TA2 podium.
Matos took the lead early in the 100-mile, 40 lap TA2 race, edging out pole-sitter Misha Goikhberg by the fifth lap. Battling for a podium position, Goikhberg was shuffled off track in Turn 1, moving the Canadian driver back to mid-field. Matos produced faster times each lap as his Pirelli tires got up to temperature, building a sizeable 3.116-second gap over second. However, a yellow flag caused by a car off in Turn 4 grouped the field back together behind the safety car.
“It was crazy near the end with the restarts,” said Matos. “Every restart was a struggle and Marc (Miller) has a very fast car in a straight line. I held him off and I was able to build a gap. I could keep in front of him, but it was very difficult because of his straight-line speed. He had a really good jump going down the hill, and it was not easy to hold him off for the win. My 3Dimensional Services team did an amazing job again this weekend, this is for them!”
Miller challenged Matos on the restart, but his run ended prematurely when another yellow flag slowed the field. Fresh off the second restart, Machavern packed in behind Miller and Matos before a third full-course yellow was called to retrieve a stranded car.
“We were struggling a little bit with pace at the start of the race, but the car seemed to come to me after it cooled down during the first caution,” Machavern said. “Then I was in really good shape behind Marc (Miller) and Rafa (Matos), who did an awesome job. I’m really happy to be on the podium for the first time this year for our sponsors and team. The Stevens Miller guys really grinded this weekend, getting the Liqui-Moly Mustang up to speed. They put so much work into this program and deserve this podium.”
With three laps remaining, Matos and Miller battled for position. Ultimately, Matos bested Miller in the corners to take the checkered by about five tenths of a second over Miller.
“I thought I had a good start on the first two restarts, then Rafa got a great jump on me on the last one,” said Miller. “Those last two laps were the hardest I’ve ever driven. I was doing everything I could just to get back to Rafa’s bumper. I was able to track him down at the end, which was the first time the car was really closing on him. The guys standing beside me on the podium bring out the best in me on the track.The Prefix Hemi power on the straightaway was just incredible- that was the great equalizer for us.”
Doug Petersen won the Masters award following a seventh-place finish in the No. 87 3Dimensional Services Ford Mustang. Sixteen-year-old rookie Ty Gibbs won the CoolShirt ‘Cool Move of the Race’ after charging from a 14th place start to a sixth place finish.
“I am a circle track driver typically,” said Gibbs. “This is my first time on a road course and in a TA2 car. I logged more than a 1000 laps on the simulator to prepare for this race because I was so nervous! But this was a ton of fun in these cars with the power and downforce that they have. I had a blast out here. It’s a totally different world, but the seat time was great.”
The TA2 presented by AEM class action continues May 3-5 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, California. For more information on the classes and race results, visit GoTransAm.com or follow on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @gotransam.