Iowa Speedway (May 28, 2009) – The second day of a two-day Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear test at Iowa Speedway was run under ideal conditions, with 14 drivers turning a total of 4,628 laps around the 7/8ths-mile oval.
Widely experienced in road racing in both Europe and the U.S., but with no previous experience of any kind on an oval, current championship leader Englishman Adam Christodoulou redefined his comfort zone and turned the fastest lap of the day — and the test — a 22.059 (145.900 mph) in his #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda. The best time on day one was set by Louisiana racer Alex Ardoin with a 22.109 (145.589 mph) in his #51 JDC Motorsports / Oral & Facial Surgery Center / Twister Trailer Mazda. Billy Goshen ran the most laps of the day, 258, in his #82 Goshen Motorsports / Baker Commodities / GPSTrackit / OTTO / First Quality Concrete Mazda, setting a 9th-fast time of 22.269.
By the time the final lap was run, all 14 cars in the test were within 7/10ths of a second of each other, setting the stage for an evening of extremely competitive, side-by-side racing when the full Star Mazda Championship field takes to the track for 100 laps under the lights at the upcoming Pizza Ranch 100 on July 10.
„It’s taken four days to get to the stage we’re at; the first three days on an oval (including the Milwaukee test last week) we ended up struggling with the car quite a bit, but we’ve been chipping away at it,“ says Christodoulou, the 2008 U.K. Formula Renault champion who is currently leading the 2009 Star Mazda championship points battle with two wins (Sebring and Miller Motorsports Park) and two poles (Miller and Virginia International Raceway).
„I didn’t realise quite how hard it was going to be just going around in circles. I can’t believe how close the racing is, how high the standard of oval racing is – it’s been quite a surprise, but I’ve been working with my team, JDC Motorsports and its all working pretty well now.
When you watch oval racing from the grandstands, it looks like they’re going around and obviously they’re getting a tow and slipstreaming and overtaking each other; but when you’re actually in the seat, I reckon the scariest moments are when you come out of the pits because the first lap you’ve got to have faith in the car to know that it’s going to stick to the ground and obviously around Iowa its touch-and-go flat-out all the way around, but with a wall five meters on either side of you there’s not much room for error.
Luckily I managed to keep it off the wall for the four days, but it takes a lot of getting used to; you have to start out with a bit of understeer in the car – the last thing you want on an oval is oversteer – so you have to start with understeer and build it up lap by lap. I reckon it was about my 30th lap when I got used to the track and realising how wide and fast it was.“
Miller Motorsports Park, Utah, USA (May 16, 2009) – Given that he dominated all but one of the four practices session over the two days leading up to the race, and put his #11 JDC Motorsports car backed by Molecule on the pole by a margin of just under 4/10ths, it came as no surprise to anyone that he eventually crossed the finish line ahead of 32 other cars to win Round Three of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship at Miller Motorsports Park. The manner of it, however, was a bit more interesting.
Christodoulou, starting from the inside of the front row, got an excellent start and pulled into the lead; his intent to drive a clean race from the front and leading every lap seemed to be going according to plan. Then a full-course yellow resulting from contact between two mid-pack cars – as it so often does – nearly changed everything. After two laps of full course Yellow, on the re-start, it was his team mate Alex who emerged from the four-abreast charge into Turn One leading the pack. „I couldn’t believe it when the safety car came out, I was just hoping it wasn’t going to be a repeat of the Virginia race.“ Said Christodoulou
Christodoulou was pushing Ardoin all the way making multiple attempts to try and get past, he tried a late out brake into the 1st corner, both drivers with in inches of making contact but keeping it clean, after Christodoulou pushing Alex throughout the majority of the race Alex finally made the mistake under pressure from Christodoulou, dropping him back down the field.
Christodoulou, on the other hand, was quite content, having driven a flawless – if not quite according to plan – race, grabbing fastest lap and to score his second victory of the season (he won from the front row at Sebring) and consolidate his lead in the points championship that he had shared entering the Miller weekend with Peter Dempsey, winner of Round Two at Virginia International Raceway.
Christodoulou was also the top-finishing driver among those signed up for the Racing For Kids program and will have $500 donated in his name to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City and a matching amount to a children’s hospital in the U.K.
„It definitely wasn’t an easy race,“ said Christodoulou, the 2008 U.K. Formula Renault Champion. „Alex was pretty quick, got a decent re-start and he pulled away at the start while I was battling it out with the guys behind me. I caught back up with him and pushed him as hard as I could into the first corner and I think he hit the kill switch, and that was it for him. Obviously I passed him, took the lead and just kept my head down and took it to the end.“
MINNEAPOLIS, MN. (May 18, 2009) – JDC MotorSports took another step towards a second team and drivers title in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear on Saturday (May 16), with a dominating performance at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. British rookie Adam Christodoulou led the way, converting the pole position into his second win of the season. Behind the championship leader, Joel Miller finished third for a second consecutive race, just ahead of Caio Lara in fifth and Alex Ardoin in sixth, who led a good portion of the race. Michael Guasch, retaining the class lead, and Gerry Kraut finished second and third among the Masters Series contingent, while Gustavo Linares in his first start of the season failed to finish with a 33rd place result.
The JDC MotorSports drivers and crew entered the third event of the 2009 Star Mazda campaign on high, following a successful private test at Miller Motorsports Park and wins (overall and Masters) in the opening two rounds. Building on this momentum, the Minnesota-based squad promptly became the team to beat when the cars rolled on-course in Utah. During the promoter’s test day Ardoin (No. 51 Oral & Facial Surgery Center/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports), turning the fastest lap of the day, led a JDC sweep of the top-four spots in the first session, before Christodoulou (No. 11 No. 11 Red Line Oil/Molecule/JDC Motorsports) moved to the top of the charts in the second session, with Ardoin and Miller second and fourth respectively. Not to be out done, Guasch (No. 91 Molecule/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports) was the quickest Masters Series driver in both sessions.
The JDC charge continued one day later in the two practice sessions at the high-speed road course. Christodoulou, Ardoin, Lara and Miller were first through fourth in the morning session, followed by a Christodoulou, Miller, Ardoin, Lara foursome at the top of the speed charts in the afternoon session. Guasch was again the quickest Masters driver in the two sessions, with Kraut (No. 55 Dougherty & Co./Dougherty Funding LLC/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports) not far behind.
Given the results leading up to the split group qualifying session, it came as no surprise that JDC drivers were the one’s to watch in the fight for the pole position. When the checkered flag waved, Christodoulou had secured his second consecutive pole position, with Miller (No. 2 Fader Higher Productions/Mockett/Burns Truck & Trailer/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports) lining up alongside on the front-row for the standing start. Ardoin secured a row two spot with the fourth fastest time, ahead of Lara in sixth and Linares in 28th. Guasch, 23rd overall, was the leading Masters Series pilot, three spots ahead of Kraut.
Come race time a few hours later, Christodoulou got a good launch, retaining the top-spot through the first few corners. Just as the JDC rookie was building a gap on his teammate Miller and the rest of his pursuers, the yellow flags waved for an incident on-course. On the ensuing restart, it was Ardoin who became the man everyone was chasing, emerging from a four-car challenge into the first turn. The Louisiana driver appeared headed towards his first win of the season from that point forward, until inadvertently hitting the ignition switch while adjusting his sway bars, result in an instant loss of power and a brief off-course excursion. As a result of the error, Christodoulou regained the lead, holding the position until the checkered flag waved, earning the British driver his second win of the season. Miller, encountering a minor mechanical problem early in the race, managed to overcome the set back for a third place result. Lara (No. 19 MLD/ATW/Molecule/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports) and Ardoin, having recovered from his late race problem, made it four JDC drivers in the top-six, finishing fifth and sixth. Guasch, in what was an entertaining battle for top honors in the Masters Series, eventually came home in second place, 21st overall, while Kraut with his 25th place finish earned third place in the class. Linares (No. 20 Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports), was classified 33rd, following a first lap incident.
The JDC MotorSports Star Mazda Championship race pilots and crew will now take a quick breather before returning to action on May 20-21 and May 27-28 for series tests at the Milwaukee Mile and Iowa Speedway, prior to the June 13-14 races at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Christodoulou and Guasch enter the event leading the overall and Masters series title chases, while JDC MotorSports is out front in the Team Championship standings.