Three Wins and a Title for Cameron, Three Podiums for Podlesni
Brands Hatch, England (November 12, 2006) ---- Two talented American teenagers put on a clinic today when the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy wrapped up with a triple-header race meeting at Brands Hatch.
Dane Cameron, 18, from Sonoma, Calif., produced a stunning display to win all three races. Fellow Californian Robert Podlesni, 19, from Thousand Oaks, was almost equally impressive in earning two third-place finishes and then rounding out the six-race mini-series in magnificent style for the pair of 2006 Team USA Scholarship winners by making a pass just yards from the finish line to annex second place in the final race.
Cameron, who finished a strong second in this year's Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship (behind highly rated 2005 Team USA Scholarship winner J.R. Hildebrand), comfortably clinched the Autumn Trophy spoils, while Podlesni, this year's Pacific F2000 Championship presented by Hankook winner ended up fourth in points.
"Today was absolutely fantastic, it couldn't have gone any better," said Cameron. "The first race was really enjoyable as I had to hoist my way up through the field after falling back to sixth on the start. I was able to make some good passes and work my way into second quite quickly but [polesitter] Aaron Steele had already pulled out a sizable lead. I was unable to make up the gap until a late-race safety car came out and put me right on his gearbox again. On the restart Aaron made a slight mistake going into Paddock [Hill Bend] and got a little loose and it was all that I needed to take the lead going into Druids. I was able to hold him off and take my second victory and seize the series points lead.
"In the second race I got a jump on the start and passed Aaron on the outside of Paddock. I was able to keep a small gap until the safety car came out late in the race. I got another good restart and kept Aaron behind me and won the second race of the weekend and extended my lead in the points. I also set fastest lap in race two which gave me the pole for the final race of the day. I got another good start and was able to build a decent gap and get into a rhythm and turn fast laps as consistent as I could with no mistakes.
"To win all three races here today is just amazing. To come to a series where I have never seen the tracks or the cars in person before and win four of the six races is just unbelievable," continued an elated Cameron. "This is a huge boost to my career and to my program for 2007. I would really like to thank Jeremy Shaw and everyone who supports the Team USA Scholarship. It has been an amazing trip and a great experience that I will take with me for the rest of my life. It has been a dream come true for me."
Podlesni was similarly thrilled, especially following an impressive charge in the final race which saw him snatch second place from Steele on the run to the checkered flag.
"The final race was one of the best in my career," reckoned Podlesni. "I started third and got around [Luciano] Bacheta after a few laps with a move up the braking zone into Druids. There was a large gap to Aaron Steele, but I decided to save my [push-to-pass] boost and put my head down. I caught him in eight laps without using any of my boost and started to battle with four to go. I knew he was slower coming on the front straight, but being allowed to block, he was too fast for me to make a run on the outside into Paddock. I was confident I had the speed to get by, and on the last lap, coming out of the last corner, I got on the inside, hit the boost and moved him aside for the second spot. I wound up conserving too much boost, and I had 12 seconds left at the end of the race, but it was one of the best races I have had."
Team USA Scholarship supporters include Mockett.com, a Torrance, Calif.-based producer and supplier of "Fine Architectural Hardware For Your Fine Furniture," American Honda, Snap-on Tools, "Stars of Karting," Highcroft Racing, Sparco USA, RACER magazine, FormulaCar Magazine, Speedstar Management and an array of past Scholarship winners including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, A.J. Allmendinger, J.R. Hildebrand and Memo Gidley.
-credit: jeremy shaw