Returning to the road courses after making his first two appearances on oval tracks, UK standout Adam Christodoulou finds himself in the thick of the championship battle after recording two second place finishes as the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear visited Joliet, Illinois, for the inaugural Harrah’s Grand Prix of Autobahn presented by Mazda doubleheader weekend.
Driving the #11 Molecule Labs/AlpineStar/Miller Millling Co. sponsored JDC Motorsports entry, Christodoulou, who has recorded victories at Sebring and Miller Motorsports Park, entered the weekend seeking to recapture his championship points lead after falling from the top spot in Iowa. Adding to his motivation was the first opportunity to race in front of his family this season.
“The weekend here was one to remember as the facilities were excellent, there were thousands of spectators, plenty of autograph signings, TV interviews and best thing of all was my biggest fans arrived to America for the first time, my Mom and Dad,” Christodoulou explained. ” We had a bit of a slow start unfortunately when my car suffered with a minor electronic problem in the opening practice, but my mechanic Dave and the rest of JDC work hard on the job and by the important part of the weekend started, everything was sorted, and the car ran faultlessly.”
Battling a damp track and stiff competition in Saturday’s early qualifying session Christodoulou would scrap his way to the second spot on the grid alongside points leader Peter Dempsey. “Everyone was pushing their cars throughout the qualifying session, and the water on the track made it even trickier than normal, and I was pleased to come away with a strong second place spot on the grid,” he revealed.
Christodoulou got a blistering run on the standing start, jumping ahead of Dempsey as they raced down to the first turn but the dirtier outside line on the corner opened the door for Dempsey to slip past on the inside. “I got an amazing start but wasn’t able to clear Peter completely and take the cleaner inside line on that opening lap,” he lamented. “The rest of the race I was just pushing trying to close the gap on him, there was a brief safety car period which was my chance to get by Peter, but unfortunately he played the restart as I would expect any other driver to and got the gap on the restart. I was hoping to stay with Peter for the remainder of the race but I didn’t quite keep my tires up to temperature during the Safety car period and I found myself having to hold my ground for 2nd, where I finished the race.”
Qualifying for Sunday’s finale would bring a close to a busy Saturday and once again Christodoulou was challenging for pole position after making several adjustments to the car. “The changes were definitely an improvement but unfortunately we just missed out on the pole although we were able to extend the time difference to almost a full second over the third place qualifier,” Christodoulou commented.
Sunday’s race would find Adam in the same position as Saturday as he fought to chase down Dempsey, setting fast lap for both races in the process, before climbing the second spot on the podium. “Sunday wasn’t quite as exciting as it was green from start to finish with no safety cars,” Adam explained. “Peter managed to improve on his start and I was just chasing him down for the whole race. There was a period during the race where I was improving on his times catching him and setting the fastest lap but unfortunately no points being handed out for this achievement.”
With four races left in the championship Christodoulou sits nineteen points behind Dempsey with 323 points overall to Dempsey’s 342 points. The series now heads into Canada for a two race swing starting with the Grand Prix du Trois-Rivieres on August 14-16.
“I know it’s going to be extremely close battle until the end of the championship with only four races left and Trois-Rivieres will be my first street circuit, so there is going to be a steep learning curve, but I would like to think I can pick up this track fast like I have with all my others,” commented Adam. “I have to finish by thanking Michael Guasch and Molecule Labs, along with Alpinestars and JDC Motorsports, for the opportunity they have provided for me this season and I look forward to getting back in the car again in a couple of weeks.”
Brits on Pole is a site for fans of British drivers in all the major forms of open-wheel motor racing worldwide. By the name, it’s obvious they exist to cheer on British open-wheel racers, but they are also completely independent and have no official connection with any team, driver or series.
All the major open-wheel series worldwide are ranked, including F1, IRL, GP2, Indy Lights, Atlantic, Star Mazda, Formula Two, Superleague, World Series by Renault and F3. Rankings are based on results, points, the number of races in a season and the relative strength of competition in various series. According to their internal formula, Brits on Pole has determined that two Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear drivers are in the top-5; leading the Brits on Pole All-Star League is F1 championship points leader Jenson Button, followed by the 2007 Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. Adam Christodoulou, currently second in the championship battle for the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, is third in the Brits on Pole list, followed by Richard Kent. Rounding out the top-10 are Justin Wilson (IRL), Lewis Hamilton (2008 F1 champion), Dan Wheldon (2005 IRL champion) as well as James Walker and Oliver Turvey (both racing in the World Series by Renault) and British F3 driver Riki Christodoulou, Adam Christodoulou’s cousin.
Christodoulou, driver of the #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule / Alpinestars / Miller Milling Company Mazda, is in his first season of Star Mazda Championship competition and has won two races (Sebring and Salt Lake City). He has also started from the pole twice (Virginia International Raceway and Salt Lake City) and scored five podium finishes, including a pair of 2nd-place finishes in the Star Mazda Championship double-header last weekend at the Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix Presented by Mazda. He is currently second in the championship battle (behind four-time race winner Peter Dempsey of Ireland) with 323 points (vs 342 for Dempsey). The Star Mazda Championship awards 44 points for a race win, as well as one point for pole, and four races remain in the 13-race 2009 schedule. Born June 11, 1989 in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England, Christodoulou currently lives in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England. His credentials include four British karting championships and the 2007 Formula Renault Graduate Cup. In 2008, he won the Formula Renault UK championship and was the McLaren Autosport BDRC Driver of the Year.
“Adam’s speed and commitment were obvious when we watched him race last year at Silverstone in Formula Renault, he impressed everyone,” said BritsOnPole.com co-editor Andy Darley. “I’m not surprised to see him thrive this year – he’s earned his places in the top five of the Brits On Pole All-Star League, ahead of the current Formula One world champion and a past Indianapolis 500 winner, purely on merit.”
The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is now in its 19th year as one of the most prolific and successful driver development series in all of auto racing and is a major step on the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, the only manufacturer-supported motorsports scholarship program that reaches all the way from karting to the top levels of motorsports. The 2009 Star Mazda Championship schedule includes 13 races on 11 weekends, most held on major motorsports weekends, racing in front of the crowds drawn by American Le Mans, NASCAR, ARCA and the Grand-Am Rolex series. Several races are shown live on HDnet, with others syndicated to various national and international cable networks.
Star Mazda Championship races, all 45 minutes long, include road courses, street circuits and ovals. F1-style standing starts, large fields and wheel-to-wheel racing create additional excitement. Countries represented include the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Norway, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Japan. Three of the top four and seven of the top ten drivers in the 2008 championship have returned to battle again in 2009.
Unrestricted testing promotes rapid development of a driver’s on-track, car setup and driver/engineer communications skills, and the ‘single-spec’ engineering of Star Mazda Championship race cars showcases driving talent over big budgets. All Star Mazda Championship drivers race identical high-tech open-wheel cars that feature a carbon fiber chassis, fully-adjustable suspension and a sequential 6-speed gearbox. Power is provided by Mazda’s legendary ‘Renesis’ rotary engine that produces 240 horsepower, top speeds of over 150 mph and 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 2.8 seconds. Total prizes, with money paid down through 15th-place in the championship, approaches $1.5 million, including a fully-sponsored ride for the 2009 series champion in the 2010 Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.
For more information on the Star Mazda Championship and its drivers, as well as the Mazda Motorsports ladder system, please visit www.starmazda.com. For information, interviews and photos, contact Star Mazda Communications Director Peter Frey at +1 (818) 398-5733 or StarMazdaPR@aol.com.