Mazda Philippines supported racing driver and IndyCar hopeful Michele Bumgarner in her Mazda Road to Indy debut. She achieved a top-10 finish, bagging a few contingency awards along the way.
The 24-year-old driver of the number 16 Mazda Philippines-sponsored entry finished ninth in the final event of the 2013 Pro Mazda Championship series—a support race to the IndyCar Grand Prix of Houston on October 5 and 6 at the Reliant Park Street Circuit in Texas.
Due to a crash, she qualified 14th on the grid for Race 1. In her efforts to catch up, her race ended hastily as the right-rear end of her car pitched into the wall. The team was able to repair the car in time for Race 2 where Bumgarner bested her 2008 campaign (15th) by six places. She sped her way to the finish with just two seconds behind World Speed Motorsports teammate Kyle Kaiser in Race 2.
Michele was given the Staubli Award and the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award for making up four positions.
“Certainly, the race weekend wasn’t everything I wanted,” Michele said of her performance. “As a driver, you always want the best results. But this really was a warm-up for me, so to get the solid finish in Race 2, I’m happy. I just want to thank everyone, especially Mazda Philippines for all the support, the love! It’s been amazing.”
For its part, Mazda Philippines has emphasized its continued support for the talented racer, who will compete in her first full season of the Pro Mazda Championship next year. “You have to look at the context of Michele’s historical accomplishment to fully appreciate where she is now, and where Michele is heading,” said Steven Tan, President of Mazda distributor in the Philippines, Berjaya Auto Philippines Inc. “She came into the Pro Mazda Championship on the back foot, with far fewer testing and practice kilometers under her belt compared to the other drivers. So to finish ninth in her first race weekend is quite an achievement. Sure it’s talent, but it’s also hard work.”
“We at Mazda Philippines are very optimistic that she can continue on an upward trend in her 2014 Pro Mazda Championship campaign,” Tan continued. “Mazda has always been about pushing for ceaseless improvement and defying conventions. In Michele, we see someone who is capable of translating these ideals into success in the extremely competitive arena of motorsports.”
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