Fighting through a weekend of adversity, Star Mazda Championship contender Adam Christodoulou continued to tighten up the championship points race with a podium finish at Mosport International Raceway in Round Eleven of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Just as the Mosport Circuit features ups and downs and twists and turns, so too was the path Christodoulou would take over the course of the race weekend.
The weekend looked promising from the start with the Birmingham, United Kingdom resident quickly jumping to the top of the time sheets in the early stages of the opening test session before the first twist of the weekend would strike.
“I was fastest at the time and everything was looking good until I made a minor error out of corner three, just clipping the grass on the exit, I tried to save it but the grass was damp and I became a passenger. I ended up making contact with the tyre wall, taking off my front wing and causing damage to the front left corner of the car,” Adam commented. “Once we got the car back to the trailer Dave my mechanic was straight onto the job and through a tremendous effort the car was fixed just before the next session.”
Back on track in the second session and looking to climb the charts once again Christodoulou suffered his second setback of the weekend after a bump at the apex of the flat out sixth gear turn two sent his #11 Molecule Labs / Alpinestars/ JDC Motorsports Pro Formula Mazda off the circuit.
“I hit the small bump on the inside of the track, lifting the front wheels and once the car landed it bottomed out and before I could save it I was on the grass going backwards down the hill. I realized it wasn’t going to be good so I braced myself for impact and I hit the wall with some serious speed causing even more damage than the previous session,” He revealed. “The Mosport safety crew were at my wreck within seconds; I got out the car and was checked over by the paramedics. Luckily I was ok, and the strong structure of the Star Mazda had taken all the impact. Once again we had a big job of getting the car fixed and I’ve got to thank everyone from the JDC Motorsport team for all their support and help putting the car back together, every one chipped in, the crew worked late hours, and the car was fixed by the morning.”
Returning to the circuit for the second day of practice Christodoulou would work on putting the previous days events behind him and after cracking the top ten on old tires in the morning session was pleased to post the second fastest time in the final practice session, just five-hundredths off the fast time from the session.
Adjustments made in anticipation of the morning qualifying session were washed away as torrential rains had swept across the track over night and though the storm had relented during qualifying the track surface was still wet enough to require a wet setup and a heavy fog made visibility a challenge. “Several red flag periods for cars that went off chopped up the session and I was a little bit annoyed only qualifying 4th, but we had the car set up for the wet conditions and the track dried up quicker than expected,” Adam stated. “Still I was happy that I out qualified my main championship contender Peter Dempsey. »
With an early morning qualifying session and a late afternoon race the weather forecast became the obsession of the day as the teams watched and waited to see if the storms would return and how to adjust their cars for the conditions. As the afternoon arrived it became apparent that the race would be run in the dry and attention was made to getting the cars just right for the 45 minute race.
As the green lights went out for the standing start everyone worked their way through turn one safely for what would be a caution flag free event. Battling his teammate Alex Ardoin on the opening laps, Christodoulou was able to gain the upper hand and move into the third spot and started focusing on catching up to the leaders. As the leaders started to encounter lapped traffic, Adam was able to climb into second place as race leader Conor Daly spun after making an outside pass attempt in turn eight before recovering and returning to the circuit. While the lapped traffic would initially help Adam it also cost him later in the race.
“I was now in second but it wasn’t going to be easy as Conor didn’t lose much time and was chasing me down. Traffic was all about timing and trying to get around the lapped traffic without losing time or speed,” Adam said. “Conor was getting closer lap by lap and I could see him trying to get the draft down the straight, unfortunately he finally got the run he needed to draft past down the straight and went down my inside. The flag came out and I brought the car home in 3rd. It wasn’t quite the win, but I was more than happy to finish 3rd after the disastrous start to the weekend and the main thing was I closed up the gap in the championship. I went into round eleven, 10 points shy of the championship, and I’ve now reduced it just 7 points.”
With two rounds left in the championship the series now heads to Road Atlanta for Round Twelve of the Championship during the Petit Le Mans race weekend on September 23-25.
Making his first appearance on a temporary street circuit Adam Christodoulou experienced a weekend full of ups and downs yet still managed to make up ground on points leader Peter Dempsey in Round Ten of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear for the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres.
Driving the #11 Molecule Labs JDC Motorsports Mazda, the UK native started the weekend on a lofty note after topping the opening practice session on the 1.521-mile circuit. “The 1st session on the Friday went surprisingly well, at 1st it was a bit daunting knowing that there is very little room for error, it’s a bit like the oval scenario, if you make a mistake then there’s a nice concrete wall to support you either side of the track,” Adam explained. “I took my time getting to know the place before I started pushing, at the end of session one I was battling it out for fastest lap, we put new tires on and we topped the charts.”
After going over data and making a few changes to the car, Christodoulou would post the second fastest time in the final practice session of the weekend. “The 2nd session went really well, ending up second in the standings. I was happy with my pace and I knew that it was going to be close in qualifying.”
Hopes of a pole run were dashed in qualifying when a red flag was brought out as championship points leader Dempsey made contact with the wall under the Arch corner as Christodoulou was preparing to set his flying laps. “At the start of qualifying I was 2nd out the pits and the drivers in the previous qualifying session were already producing times quicker than testing, so I knew the pace was going to be quick. We chose to go out on old tires for the start of the qualifying to get a base line before we put on new tires but unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan,” Adam revealed.
“Unfortunately for me, my main rivals made contact, causing one of them to have a puncture putting him in the wall. By the time the track was cleared qualifying was finished. I wasn’t happy with qualifying, because I knew I had the pace to be on the front row but I was left in fourth position for the start of the race.”
Sunday’s championship battle started on pre-grid as Dempsey’s team failed to get his car to pre-grid on time, forcing him to start from pit lane while the rest of the field moved up a position. Christodoulou would rocket off of the standing start to jump into the lead by the second corner but an opening lap incident further back in the field would force him back into third place. ”Because we hadn’t completed the lap I had to give back the positions I had made up at the start, putting me back to 3rd. I felt robbed. It was an extremely close race, there was a group of 6 cars all battling it out trying to get ahead of each other.”
Fighting an engine that was down on power in the closing laps Christodoulou was hanging on in third place when a restart on the closing laps presented an opportunity to gain another position. As the green flag came out on the final lap Christodoulou sought to move into second place.
“There were only minutes to spare before the chequered flag dropped and we had one last restart with one lap to go, I tried a move for 2nd place, but couldn’t pull it off allowing 2 cars past. I couldn’t believe it, I had 3rd place and I made a minor error moving me back to 5th, I attempted to make at least one place up but the chequered flag was out and the race was over. The racing was so close and it showed. If anyone made a slight error they paid for it losing positions or not finishing.”
“I had mixed emotions after the race, I was annoyed I didn’t make it on the podium, but I was happy to finish the race and I gained valuable points in the championship so that there is only a 10 point difference in the championship now with 3 rounds to go,” Adam said. “And for Trois-Rivieres itself the atmosphere was unbelievable, the crowds were packed, there were plenty of activities going on during the day and evenings of the race weekend.”
The series now heads to Mosport International Raceway in Ontario, Canada, for Round Eleven of the Championship on August 27-29.
Trois Rivierès, Quebec (August 14, 2009) – Englishman Adam Christodoulou, currently second in the 2009 Star Mazda presented by Goodyear championship battle, put his #11 JDC Motorsports / Molecule / Alpinestars Mazda at the top of the time sheets in today’s first practice session for this weekend’s 40th running of the GP3R at Trois Rivierès. His lap of 1:01.901 sec. was just 0.090-sec quicker than Irishman Peter Dempsey’s fast lap in the #3 Juncos Racing / HOOTERS / Motorsport Ireland / Queyside.ie Mazda. Christodoulou is currently second in the championship battle with two wins and Dempsey has dominated the mid-part of the season with a string of four wins in a row and leads the championship. Third on the time sheet was Scandinavian racer Anders Krohn (winner at the Milwaukee Mile oval) with a lap of 1:03.658-sec. in his #27 Mundill / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda.
« It’s quite an experience when you first go out; it being my first street course it’s quite daunting, realizing that if you make even the slightest mistake you’re in the wall… it’s like an oval that way. » says Christodoulou. « Of course there’s a lot more braking involved and a few more corners. The JDC team has been doing some pretty intensive testing the last week and I think this results shows that. We still have to carry on working, and I have a little bit of time to find in myself and I’m sure we’ll be able to find an extra tenth or two within the setup of the car itself; so long as we stay at the top it should be a good weekend. The crowning of the track is quite challenging, and plays a big part in how the car handles and how you have to set it up. With the corners you have to imagine that you can see through the walls to where the exits of the corners are. I think there’s definitely time to find, especially in the first corner where I wasn’t using the full amount of the track. »
Rounding out the top-5 were Englishman Richard Kent, another race winner this season (at New Jersey Motorsports Park) posted the 4th-fast time of 1:03.897-sec. in the #33 Andersen Racing / Traka Allied Interior Products Mazda. Venezuelan racer Jorge Goncalvez was 5th-fast in the #72 AIM Autosport / Mazda with a lap of 1:04.116-sec. The top-qualifying Expert Series driver (ages 30-44) was Japanese racer Toshihiro Deki, who turned 15th-fast lap of 1:05.233-sec. in the #80 Goshen Motorsports Mazda. Heading the Master Series drivers (ages 45 and over) was Californian Mike Guasch, with an 18th-fast lap of 1:06.314 in the #91 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Mazda. A second 40-minute practice session is scheduled for 4:35 pm this afternoon.