Michael Cooper in the No. 1 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda Mazdaspeed 3, finished 10th but had the best start of the race, advancing from 12th place up to fifth. That launch netted him the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award.
Lipperini secured his first career TCB class win and Honda’s first this season with the Fit, after Mazda and MINI had won the first five races between them. It was a needed bounce back result for Lipperini, who finished 18th and fifth in Thursday’s two races.
After starting third, Lipperini passed Motul polesitter Charlie James in the No. 0 SafeRacer MINI Cooper on lap three and never looked back. The move secured Lipperini the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race Award.
“After qualifying on the outside of front row, then putting it in the wall twice, once of my own doing, the crew worked all day and night to get it back together,” said Lipperini. “The car handled well and we were able to get going. It’s very nice to get Honda their first TCB class win this year. I knew I would be competitive here in Lime Rock.”
Behind the race winner, two drivers made big gains from their starting positions. Ernie Francis Jr. in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda 2, climbed from 18th in class all the way to second. Rookie Tyler Palmer completed his first weekend in the No. 24 BlackForest Porsche/Mobil 1 BMW MINI Cooper with podiums in all three races. On Saturday in Round 6, he finished third, after finishes of third and second in rounds four and five.
Both drivers were assisted by a full course caution on lap 16, which flew when Fernando Seferlis, a rookie from Panama driving the No. 77 Compulab Mazda 2, had an accident at turn six. Francis Jr. improved from fifth to third after the restart, while Palmer went on a methodical march from eighth up to third.
“The full course caution really helped out,” said Francis Jr. “At the line I was able to get the two cars ahead of me, and made it up to third. When other cars had spun in front of me, it gave me an opportunity for second. It’s pretty nice to be back up here and the crew did a lot of work to the car to get it back running.”
Palmer recovered from a drive-through penalty after the standing start to keep MINI on the podium behind the Honda and Mazda.
“Today with the standing start, my first ever, the lights came on and weren’t supposed to go,” said Palmer. “Then I went and had to do the drive-through penalty. I hit my marks and passed everyone; the full course caution helped me out a bit. It was a great race for the BlackForest Porsche/Discount Tire/Mobil 1 MINI.”