PALMETTO, Fla., June 16 — Adam Christodoulou received one of the perks he earned for winning the driver title in the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear when he tested one of Andersen Racing’s Firestone Indy Lights cars at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio last Thursday.
Christodoulou’s test was the result of a collaborative effort between Mazda, Performance Friction, the Star Mazda series and the Palmetto, Fla.-based team, which was the series’ top team in 2008, finished second in 2009 and is currently leading the 2010 team point standings. Andersen Racing will make its 75th consecutive Star Mazda start this Saturday at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, where it hopes its four Star Mazda drivers (Mikael Grenier, Anders Krohn, Tristan Vautier and Nick Andries) will add a 17th pole position and an 18th race victory to the stats it has already accumulated in the series. It is the only team still actively participating in the series since the debut of the current generation of Star Mazda race car in 2004.
That kind of commitment and those achievements coupled with the team’s extensive driver development program that includes karting programs, a Firestone Indy Lights team and a Star Mazda team made Andersen Racing the perfect group to conduct the test for Mazda, the series and Performance Friction. The team has also been tabbed to conduct a similar test for the 2010 Star Mazda champion.
Performance Friction stepped up to sponsor the test because it is also devoted to supporting rising open-wheel talent. The company is the exclusive brake pad and disc supplier for the first two levels of the Indy Racing League’s Road to Indy program: the USF2000 National Championship presented by Cooper Tires and powered by Mazda, and the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Its products are also used by nearly all the teams in Firestone Indy Lights, which is the final step on the official Road to Indy ladder prior to the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Christodoulou, who turned 21 the day after the test, completed 89 laps on Mid-Ohio’s 2.258-mile road course in Andersen Racing’s No. 4 Firestone Indy Lights car, which is normally driven by Carmen Jorda. It was a return to his open-wheel roots, as he also won the 2008 British Formula Renault Championship in addition to the 2009 Star Mazda title. The native of Litchfield, Staffordshire, England has been driving a Mazda RX-8 in the GT division of the Grand-Am Rolex Series this year with the 2008 Star Mazda champion, John Edwards, as Mazda continues its role as the car manufacturer most committed to supporting North America’s open-wheel development series. Both the USF2000 National Championship and Star Mazda are part of the MAZDASPEED driver development program in addition to the Indy Racing League’s Road to Indy program.
“I was very pleased with Adam’s test,” said Andersen Racing co-owner John Andersen. “He showed that with a little bit of seat time he was able to run with the best Firestone Indy Lights drivers.
“This was not Adam’s first test of a Firestone Indy Lights car, as he tested with Bryan Herta’s team last September,” Andersen added.
“We were the first team in North America to test Adam in a Star Mazda car back in early 2009, and we knew then what a talent he is,” added his brother and team co-owner, Dan Andersen. “It was a real delight to be able to provide our Firestone Indy Lights team and race car and see him perform so well once again. We would welcome an opportunity to have him on our Firestone Indy Lights team sometime in the future.”
“The test at Mid-Ohio in the Firestone Indy Lights car definitely put a huge smile on my face,” said Christodoulou. “This test was possible thanks to Performance Friction brakes, Mazda and Andersen Racing, and it was a pleasure to be back in a single-seater.
“At first it was quite strange getting back into a single-seater car, as I hadn’t been in one for at least eight months, and I had only been in a Firestone Indy Lights car once last year.
“The first thing I noticed was how quiet it seemed compared to the scream of the three-rotor Mazda RX-8 I have been racing all season,” he added. “I was also braking far too early for all the corners. The brakes felt unbelievably good, and I was over-slowing the car and wasn’t getting the best out the brakes until my second or third run. Then I was carrying a lot more speed and was a lot more efficient on the brakes.
“I got on really well with all the Andersen crew,” he continued. “It’s the first time I got to meet all the guys from the Firestone Indy Lights side of the team, and they did a great job with the car. Everything ran smoothly and we didn’t run into any problems.
“I had plenty of time in the car even though we were restricted on miles,” he said. “I completed roughly 80 laps, with my third-from-last lap being my quickest all day, even with worn tires. We made some very minor changes but I think the biggest time difference was just me adjusting to the car. I felt that each time I got in the car I picked up fractions of a second here and there.
“It would have been nice to have put on a new set of tires at the end of the day just to see how I compared to the other seasoned Firestone Indy Lights drivers, but overall it was a fun day and it was nice to be able to test against the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights drivers,” he concluded. “I have to say a big ‘Thank you!’ to all the people who put this deal together for me, especially Performance Friction brakes, MAZDASPEED Development and Andersen Racing. I look forward to hopping into a Firestone Indy Lights car again if the opportunity arises.”