Jason Saini returned to the World Challenge Touring Car series at Mid-Ohio last week, and was at the front straight away – taking pole position on his return, though had to settle for second behind the Mazda RX-8 of Ryan Eversley in the races.
We spoke to Saini about his return to the World Challenge series.
TcT: What was it like to be back in World Challenge, and right at the front straight away?
“It was a pleasure to be back in the series, and to get back toward the front right away. We knew our MAZDASPEED3′s capabilities very well, and thought it was a front-runner, but were very pleased with the results. To be on pole, and second both days exceeded our expecations.”
“I have to say a big thanks to Autobarn Mazda of Countryside for stepping up to make the weekend a reality. Our car is very quick out of the box, but it slows down as the heat rises. As with any turbo car, it’s never going to be as consistent as a normally aspirated car, so hopefully we can cure some of these temperature issues as we continue to develop the platform.”
TcT: How was the rivalry with Ryan Eversley?
“The racing with Ryan was very close and competitive, and since he’s a great friend of mine it was a pleasure to do battle with him.”
“Although we’ve been friends for a couple of years, this is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to race each other, and it was as clean and competitive a race as I’ve ever had. Hopefully it will make for great TV when the race airs, we had some huge side-by-side battles!”
TcT: It was a great result for Mazda that weekend, not just in World Challenge of course, it must have been a good atmosphere to be a part of that?
“It was quite a weekend for Mazda, and we were proud to do our part in such a successful weekend. A Mazda won every professional road-race they entered in the USA on the weekend, with Touring Car, Rolex GT and ALMS LMP. John Doonan was at Mid Ohio and in victory lane to congratulate Ryan, Eric Meyer and myself for the podium sweep on Saturday!”
TcT: How does the championship look now, returning to it after nine months away in other series?
“After being away for a while, it’s good to see the car count and participation increases. It’s a bit dissapointing that the cars are not as technical in TC (touring class), but overall it’s what’s best for the sport.”
“Our MAZDASPEED3 is still a joy to drive around a place as beautiful as Mid Ohio! Overall, the series is doing a great job, but there are some missing pieces that I hope they cure for the future good of the series. We look forward to further participation at the series finale at Miller Motorsports Park in October.”