SCC: Daytona: Freedom Autosport preview

Freedom Autosport's Daytona Lineup to Feature Rising Mazda Stars DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.--Freedom Autosport will launch the 2010 Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season with an all-star lineup of veteran drivers and Mazda's standout ...

Freedom Autosport's Daytona Lineup to Feature Rising Mazda Stars

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.--Freedom Autosport will launch the 2010 Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season with an all-star lineup of veteran drivers and Mazda's standout young guns. The season opener at Daytona International Speedway will also mark the debut of the new MAZDASPEED3.

When the Fresh from Florida 200 begins on Friday, January 29, the Street Tuner class will feature four Freedom Autosport machines: two Mazda MX-5s and two brand-new MAZDASPEED3s.

Patrick Dempsey and John Edwards will team up to campaign the No. 27 Freedom Autosport MAZDASPEED3. The 18-year-old Edwards is a rising star among the Mazda ranks: he won the Star Mazda Championship in 2008, and he is the reigning Formula Atlantic Series Powered by Mazda champion.

Daytona will mark Edwards's Grand-Am debut. "I'm looking forward to getting some experience in Grand-Am competition, and I'm really excited to get in the MAZDASPEED3," remarked Edwards. "Being new to the series, I'm not sure what to expect, but I'll do my best and hope to get results."

Freedom's second MAZDASPEED3, the No. 28 entry, will also feature two young standouts. Taylor Hacquard and Ryan Ellis will co-drive the new car, and despite their young age, both have impressive resumes.

Hacquard, at just 19 years old, has been a standout in the Stars of Karting National Series and, most recently, in Star Mazda. He's already had a taste of endurance sports car racing, and is looking forward to his Grand-Am debut at Daytona. "My test with Freedom was the first time I'd driven Daytona," said Hacquard. "I'm just trying to soak up as much of the information as I can from what we accomplished at the test. That was the first time I'd driven with front wheel drive, so I had to change my style to adapt."

Ellis won the 2009 Mazda Teen Challenge West Championship and was runner-up in the 2010 Mazdaspeed Shootout for SCCA Pro Racing's Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. The 20-year-old already has 15 years of racing experience.

Derek Whitis and Tom Long proved to be successful co-drivers last year, ending the season on a high note with a win at Virginia International Raceway and 4 podiums overall. They will be co-drivers once again, driving the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5.

Long, who also fills the role of team manager, is looking forward to kicking off the team's championship effort. "2010 will prove to be Freedom Autosport's strongest year ever in competing for the manufacturers championship within Grand-Am competition," he said. "Building on our 2009 successes and moving forward with the all-new MAZDASPEED3 is a fantastic opportunity. Debuting a Mazda-filled driver lineup for Daytona like this will be sure to start the season off with plenty of Zoom-Zoom!"

Rhett O'Doski and Andrew Carbonell will once again pilot the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5. The car earned a win at Trois-Rivieres last year and the co-drivers hope to add more top finishes in 2010.

With the strong Daytona lineup, the proven success of the MX-5s and the potential of the MAZDASPEED3s, team owner Whitis is optimistic about the new season. "Everything came together last year with two wins and eight podiums, a truly great season for Mazda and Freedom Autosport. We hope to carry that into 2010 with the new MAZDASPEED3, a really great car. We practically got it off the showroom floor through SpeedSource, added safety equipment, and the car is ready to race. Mazda just makes amazing cars."

Freedom Autosport will be ready to race when the Continental Tire Challenge season begins at 1:45 p.m. on Friday.

-source: freedom autosport

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Tom Long , Patrick Dempsey , John Edwards , Andrew Carbonell , Rhett O'Doski , Derek Whitis , Taylor Hacquard , Ryan Ellis
Teams Freedom Autosport , SpeedSource