Reuben Bonnici (left) and Szabolcs Feher lead the field around Charlotte Motor Speedway as two Mazdas spin behind them.

A third of the way through the final 2012 season of the inRacingNews Challenge, two familiar names are on top of the standings—Chris Hughson in the Mazda MX-5 Roadster and Niccolo Cedrati in the Pontiac Solstice. After Weeks Three and Four at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Summit Point’s short configuration, respectively, the two drivers possess decent leads heading into the heart of the schedule.

Hughson has spent the past two weeks at extending his points lead, which is now 38 over Andrey Tararaksin. He’s scored 40 wins in 41 starts over those two weeks, now totaling 90 victories in his 95 starts. Tararaksin, meanwhile, only has a three-point advantage over Joseph Pisciotta III for second in points, while England’s Christopher J. Smith and Finland’s Harri Anttila round out the top five.

Michael Gomen leads Niccolò Cedrati (No. 1), Matthew Pilus (No. 9), and the rest of the iRNC field on Summit Point Raceway’s short configuration. Gomen would lead 11 laps of this race before Cedrati made the winning pass with nine laps to go.

Cedrati has spent the past two weeks reeling in Andrey Loginov, taking the points lead after Week Four. Two weeks ago, Loginov’s points lead on Cedrati was 26; now, Cedrati has a 43-point advantage, buoyed by a 178-point victory at Summit Point when Loginov only scored 126. Meanwhile, Kenville Inniss is only seven points back of Loginov for second, while rookie Philipp Bachmann and Hughson complete the top five.

The next two weeks will see the series visit the legendary courses at Lime Rock Park and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Last season, eventual Mazda champion Diego Rodriguez Alonso took a class victory on Lime Rock’s full layout, while David Benedict shared the honors in Solstice. In the two Laguna Seca rounds, Joni Backman (Week Six) and Kian Kim (Week 12) topped all Solstice drivers, while Christoph Schön (Week Six) and Alonso (Week 12) scored Mazda class victories.

Photo credit: Niccolò Cedrati

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