Dion von MoltkeSkip Barber recently announced the new-for-2008 MAZDASPEED Challenge Race Series, based on the equal-car format using one of Mazda’s iconic sports cars, the MX-5 Miata. The series was launched at the legendary Laguna Seca Race track, near Monterey, on April 5 and 6. Eighteen drivers showed up for this exciting new series on a sunny but chilly weekend in the hills of central California.

Dion von Moltke, who co-drives the #171 APR Motorsport Gold GTi with Ian Baas in the Koni Challenge series, decided to run in the opening weekend so that he could learn a new track and stay in race shape during the long break between the Daytona opener and Lime Rock in late May.

Dion had what can only be described a perfect race weekend. He learned the new car type and challenging track very quickly and set the fastest lap times in practice sessions on Thursday and Friday. He topped this off with a pole qualifying performance on Saturday morning – more than a second faster than the second place position.

Dion lead the 16 lap Race 1 on Saturday from start to finish – enduring fierce and persistent attacks from the very talented Lyonel Kent, who ultimately grabbed second spot in this race.

On Sunday Dion again won the top spot on the podium after a furious race long battle with the same Mr. Kent — surviving a minor last corner collision to win the race by 22 seconds over 2nd place position.

“This was a dream weekend” Dion said immediately following his second 1st place finish. “Skip Barber always runs a professional and fun race weekend, and I really enjoyed driving the Mazda MX-5s. They are an excellent race training vehicle, especially given my change in career direction to sports car racing”.

The results: A new lap record, pole position, 1s position in Race 1, 1st position in Race 2, fastest lap times in both races. A dominant weekend for this very talented young race driver.

Photo by allanrosenberg.com