I am really looking forward to the first event this weekend as I raced on the streets of St. Pete last year.
After a fantastic set of preseason tests, David Ostella makes the penultimate step on the road to Indycar this weekend as he debuts in the Firestone Indy Lights Championship. The nineteen-year-old from Maple, Ontario, Canada, has signed on with Jensen Motorsport for his rookie season, and is set for 45 laps of a tight street circuit in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“I am really looking forward to the first event this weekend as I raced on the streets of St. Pete last year,” Ostella said as race week dawned. “It’s a pretty slick track, being a street circuit, and has some narrow places that will really get the driver’s attention in a Lights car. I’ll need to stay focussed on being smooth and precise with all my decisions, but am feeling confident heading in and believe we are all prepared for the challenge.”
Ostella has valid reasons to feel prepared, as he has quickly gelled with his new team and impressed throughout the preseason. In a team test at Sebring beginning the month of March, the Canadian was among those to better the unofficial short-course track record, and then he posted the fourth-fastest time in an Official Series’ test at Barber Motorsport Park just prior to St. Petersburg.
“The preseason tests went very well and I learned a lot about these cars and how to set them up properly,” he said in summarizing. “At first I had to get used to the increased speed and torque, and then began to learn more about the car and how to fine-tune it. The transition to a new team was fairly simple, as I was familiar with the guys heading in. I did my first-ever car test with Eric Jensen, and I worked with engineer Remi Lanteigne at times when I was in Formula BMW. It’s a great environment at Jensen Motorsport, very professional, and the team is just looking great and very positive about the new year.”
The season ahead is surely an exciting prospect for Ostella, as he enjoys the challenge of different circuit types and that is exactly what the Firestone Indy Lights Schedule offers. Among the thirteen venues scheduled, oval tracks of nearly every variety can be found, five are street courses, one is a true road course and one is an airport layout. He’s raced on nearly half of them previously, yet when he looked at the schedule, the second half of the season caught his eye immediately.
“Looking at the schedule there were two tracks that really made me jump, and those were Toronto and Trois-Rivieres,” he said. “I have never raced the Toronto circuit, but it’s like a dream come true to be able to finally race in my home city. It’s an event I will really be looking forward to racing. And I’ve been to Trois-Rivieres twice now, and every year is better than the last. I love the street course there, and can’t wait to see how the Indy Lights car will be in Quebec.”
Ostella also noted a third Canadian start, at Edmonton City Centre Airport in July, along with the hallowed events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, and the famed Streets of Long Beach. Many will be new circuits for the fourth-season open-wheel racer, as he continues his racing apprenticeship that began ten seasons ago in karts.
“Looking back at being in karts and now racing Indy Lights with the big teams right next door is just phenomenal,” he said in contemplating his career thus far. “I never could have foreseen this happening, I am always just focussed on the challenge of the time and improving to become a polished, professional driver. I recognize how fortunate I am though, and really need to thank my family and friends for all their support through the years and for giving me the motivation and courage to keep pushing forward. I surely couldn’t have reached this point without them, and I surely couldn’t have reached this point without sponsorship as well: Global Precast, PRO Green Demolition, Master Insurance, JND Erectors, Connolly Marble & Granite, Imperial Precast and RAW Integrated have helped me in my racing career and simply, I wouldn’t be in St. Petersburg without them.”
The opening round of the Firestone Indy Lights Championship runs in support of the Indycar Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this coming weekend. After practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, Ostella and the Firestone Indy Lights drivers will qualify on Saturday afternoon, and race 45 laps Sunday morning, just prior to the Indycar Grand Prix. For more related information, please visit the web sites listed below: