Shift Up Now Athlete Laura Hayes competed in Rounds 3 and 4 of the Idemitsu MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich, bringing home a P22 and P15, respectively, on February 26-27, 2022 on the streets of St. Petersburg, FL.
During practice days leading up to the weekend competition, Hayes improved her time with each session in No. 22 Mazda Motorsports MX-5 Cup car for Thunder Bunny Racing. The event was her first outing on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn (five lefts, nine rights) street circuit and Hayes was competing in a 30-plus car field of entrants.
The hot Florida weather brought challenges for race one as the team worked to keep the engine and brake temperatures under control. During the first lap, Hayes’ water temperature went up, making the brakes fade quickly and she eventually lost power steering. She fell back a few positions because of it but muscled the car to the finish in P22.
On Sunday, chaos ensued on the first lap with an inverted car in turn one. Hayes was able to carve her way through the melee and pick up several positions. She remained calm and calculated as the laps ticked by, finishing in P15 and feeling good about everything she had learned.
“I loved St. Pete and wish we had more street races on the calendar,” said Hayes. “It takes a high level of precision and commitment to be fast at a place like this, with little room for error. I really enjoyed it.
“Obviously, our finishing positions isn’t where I want to be but in race two, I finally got to dice it up with some drivers and learned a lot about the race craft. I’m leaving St. Pete more aware of the things I need to adjust in my driving style to better suit these cars and this type of racing.”
In just over two months, Hayes will compete in Rounds 5-6 of the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 13-15, 2022.