Though it was once called Supermiata S2, the category is known nowadays as SuperSpec Cup. By not having to conform to as strict a rulebook, your average SSC is cheaper and a little faster than most Spec Miatas. In fact, Nik Romano was matching the SCCA Spec Miata record around Sonoma Raceway this past weekend in this car, and he’d been out of the seat since January.
The amount of power allowed is what makes the difference between these two categories. In the case of the SuperSpec Cup, most engine modifications are allowed, and the addition of an aftermarket intake, header, exhaust, and ECU to a typical Spec Miata’s motor should make nearly 140 horsepower at the wheels. That’s what Romano imagined he’d have at his disposal this weekend, but a subsequent leakdown test revealed the engine had about half the desired compression in three of its cylinders. Nevertheless, our man put on an incredible masterclass around the technical Sonoma Raceway in his down-on-power steed, showing us how to balance circumspection and aggression when dealing with slower rivals.
For a complete listing of SuperSpec Cup’s rules, read here.
A Cautious Start
An inverted finishing position puts Romano ninth at the beginning of the third race at Sonoma Raceway. Knowing he’s fully capable of outrunning most in the pack, he gives his rivals plenty of wiggle room in case they snatch a tire while everyone’s rubber is still a little cold. Rather than dive-bomb down the inside of two others into Turn 7 (1:33), Romano wisely avoids a squeeze that could’ve caused a silly end to the race. After all, this is only the first lap and he has time to pick out low-risk passes.
It’s because of tight groupings and eager moves on the first few laps leave so much out of his control that he avoids pushing too hard. For instance, a spot of unpredictable traffic leaves him open, and so he’s passed opportunistically by a Lotus-themed Miata into the Turn 8 esses (1:43). Though this driver looks like they have a good head of speed, Romano disposes of them by pressuring them into overcooking the entry to Turn 2 (2:42). When he has some room to pressurize the driver ahead, he does it so well.
Goading the Man in Front
To clinch the race-winning move, Romano first goads driver into cover the inside into Turn 7. “The move for first was calculated. I force him to defend the right side of the track, and just before the braking zone, I quickly jump back onto the ideal line,” a sneaky Romano divulges. As the driver ahead blows the entry phase, he pulls an over-under and sneaks past, never to be challenged again.
For those who felt his start was a little too cautious, the events that took place after the following start demonstrate why leaving a little on the table is smart. A tap into Turn 2 ended Romano’s race, but he didn’t leave the track without a sense of pride that weekend. Being that competitive in a pack of capable cars is always something that helps wash the bitterness of a DNF out of one’s mouth.
To learn how to pass from the man himself, visit Nik’s site here.