As the holidays rapidly approach and 2009 draws to a close, 2009 Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou got his first taste of the Mazda-Cosworth-powered Swift 016.a utilized in the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda in a two-day test with Team Stargate Worlds at Buttonwillow Raceway on Thursday and Friday.
The 20-year-old British driver logged nearly 400 miles over the two days in cool weather conditions aboard the same No. 78 machine that Simona De Silvestro piloted to four victories and third in points in the 2009 Atlantic Championship. The team, which is based at Buttonwillow, reported that Christodoulou managed to work up to speed quickly and rarely put a wheel wrong over the two days.
“I was pleased,” said engineer Burke Harrison. “He was very consistent and obviously has a lot of raw talent. The conditions here weren’t great. There was very little off-track drama at all and the feedback was good. We made progress on the balance of the car, especially the second day. I thought it was a very good test. That’s the way I judge someone. We were trying stuff, we weren’t just driving around, putting new tires on and looking for a lap. We worked the day like you would a good test. He never got tired, the times were consistent, his feedback was good, he went out and got after it. All in all, it was a positive test.”
After spending the early portion of his career in Europe, Christodoulou made the move to the U.S. and the Star Mazda championship in 2009, claiming the title with three victories and two pole positions from 13 starts. He won the championship over Peter Dempsey in dramatic fashion in the final race of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. As part of his prize for winning the Star Mazda title, Christodoulou receives a free ride in the 2010 Atlantic Championship – the top rung of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder – courtesy of Mazda.
“It’s been really good,” Christodoulou said. “We never ran into and trouble and ended up just a fraction off Simona’s time around here, so I think for my second day in the car, it’s gone extremely well. The team did an awesome job. We didn’t have any problems on their part. I had one minor detour off the track, but apart from that, everything else ran smoothly. We’ve had two days of flat-out testing pretty much. It’s been quite cold, but it’s been some good testing and it’s been an enjoyable first experience in the Atlantic car. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
After a break for the holidays, both Team Stargate Worlds and Christodoulou expect to hit the Atlantic testing trail hard early in the New Year. Both expect to participate in series-sanctioned testing at Sebring International Raceway on the weekend of January 22-24, 2010.