Autobahn I: Series qualifying report

QUEBEC RACER MIKAEL GRENIER ON POLE FOR STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP RACE 1 / ROUND 8 OF HARRAH'S AUTOBAHN GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY MAZDA Autobahn Country Club / Joliet, IL (July 31, 2010 ) -- Quebec racer Mikael Grenier scored his second pole of the...

QUEBEC RACER MIKAEL GRENIER ON POLE FOR STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP
RACE 1 / ROUND 8 OF HARRAH'S AUTOBAHN GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY MAZDA

Autobahn Country Club / Joliet, IL (July 31, 2010 ) -- Quebec racer Mikael Grenier scored his second pole of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear with a lap of 2:43.240 (78.510 mph) in a rain-soaked morning qualifying session at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL. Grenier, driver of the #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda, currently 7th in the championship battle, was also on pole (and finished second) for Round 4 at the O'Reilly Raceway Park Oval at the 'Night Before the 500.'

"It was raining all the session, and there was traffic, but it began to dry out a bit at the end and then there was a red flag," said Grenier, who hails from Stoneham, Quebec. "I was the first car out of the pits when the track went green again with just a few minutes to go and I was able to get in a fast lap. Being one of the cars that went out in the rain practice session yesterday afternoon was good because it gave me a chance to feel the grip of the track in the wet and also to see where the puddles on the track are. The Andersen Racing team has been fast in the wet and in the dry, so we're ready for whatever comes in the race this afternoon."

Starting alongside Grenier will be Frenchman Tristan Vautier, winner of two races so far this season, at Sebring and New Jersey; he is currently fourth in the championship and turned a lap of 2:43.336 (78.464 mph) in his #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda. Starting third will be Anders 'The Viking' Krohn, who was turned the quickest time in yesterday afternoon's wet practice session. Driving the #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda) his lap of 2:43.587 was good enough for the inside of the second row. Interesting to note that the top-3 cars were all within about 3/10ths of each other.

Rounding out the top-5 are Venezuelan racer Jorge Goncalvez and his teammate Joao Victor Horto. American Conor Daly set the 5th-fast time, but it was disallowed due to a part found to be 'out of adjustable limits' in post-qualifying tech inspection. As a result Daly will start from the back of the grid. Goncalvez, driving the #9 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda has scored two podium finishes this season and is eighth in the points; he turned a lap of 2:44.910 (77.715 mph), good for the outside of the second row. Horto, currently third in the championship with four podiums, will start on row 5 with a lap of 2:45.213 (77.573 mph) in the #18 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda.

Setting the 7th-fast time was Californian Connor De Phillippi, the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series champion and racing in the Star Mazda Championship this season via the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder scholarship. He turned a lap of 2:48.837 (75.908 mph) in his #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda.J Of note is the effort put in by one of the two female racers in the field, a local from Homer Glen, IL named Ashley Freiberg. A champion at the regional Skip Barber level and winner of a Skip Barber national race last weekend, Freiberg is driving a one-off this weekend and has suffered through a nightmare weekend as the team chased an elusive mechanical problem, changing engines and wiring harnesses before discovering a vacuum leak. She has run only a handful of laps so far this weekend, most of them 'hardship' laps in between sessions; in light of all that, her 9th-quick lap of 2:51.058 (74.922 mph) in the #91 Team GDT / Collision Damage Experts / Azko Nobel / Charleyhorse Restaurant Mazda is little short of spectacular.

Also of interest is that among the Expert (drivers 30 to 44 years old) and Master (45 and older) Series racers, its two local drivers, one of them making his pro racing debut, who have turned the quickest times. Jeff Garibotti, an ex acrobatic pilot who makes his living trading soybean meal at the Chicago Board of Trade, turned a 15th-quick lap of 2:58.689 (71.722 mph) in his #75 JDC Motorsports Mazda. Garibotti, a member of the Autobahn Country Club since it opened in 2004, has many laps at the track in his high-performance street cars and racing in Mazda MX-5 events, but this is his first-ever start in a professional open-wheel race. Starting next to him on the 7th row will be Homer Glen's Bob Kaminsky, who turned a lap of 2:59.377 (71.447 mph) in the #28 Team Apex / Air Tigers, Inc. Mazda.

Race 1 / Round 9 of this weekend's Star Mazda Championship double-header will take the green light for the series' traditional standing start at 1:05 pm (Central / 2:05 pm Eastern). Following that will be qualifying for Race 2 / Round 9, from 6:35 pm to 7:20 pm. The second of the weekend's two races begins at 1:00 pm Central (2.00 pm Eastern), Sunday, July 26.

-source: star mazda

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Skip Barber , Mikael Grenier , Jorge Goncalvez , Tristan Vautier , Conor Daly , Joao Victor Horto , Ashley Freiberg