CONOR DALY TOPS THE TIME SHEETS IN STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP FRIDAY PRACTICE FOR THIS WEEKEND'S HARRAH'S AUTOBAHN GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY MAZDA Twenty-four drivers from ten countries continue their battle for the inaugural Autobahn Country Club...
CONOR DALY TOPS THE TIME SHEETS IN STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP FRIDAY PRACTICE FOR THIS WEEKEND'S HARRAH'S AUTOBAHN GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY MAZDA
Twenty-four drivers from ten countries continue their battle for the inaugural
Autobahn Country Club / Joliet, IL (July 30, 2010 ) -- Conor Daly, the current Star Mazda Championship points leader and winner of four races and five poles so far this season, turned the quickest lap in both of today's 45-minute practice sessions leading up to this weekend's Rounds 8 & 9 of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the HARRAH'S Autobahn Grand Prix presented by MAZDA. Set on lap 17, the final lap of the morning session, Daly turned a 2:11.090 (97.765 mph) around the 3.6-mile track at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL in his #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda.
Fans can watch the weekend race action live on HDnet as drivers battle for the inaugural VISITFLORIDA Cup a 7-race championship-within-a-championship sponsored by Florida's official tourism corporation. The broadcasts, airing both Saturday, July 31 and Sunday August 1 from 1-4 pm Eastern (12 -3 pm Central), begin with a half-hour "Mazda Prerace Show presented by Visit Florida.com" from 12:30 -- 1:00 pm Eastern, followed by three hours of live racing (1-4 pm Eastern), including the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda and the Playboy MX-5 Cup. The two 45-minute Star Mazda Championship races are both scheduled to start at 3:00 pm Eastern.
"We ran our program on old tires yesterday and were still able to set the second-quick time, so we were quite confident going into this morning's run where we would be on new tires for the first time," said Indianapolis native Daly. "But it was almost a catastrophe; I was in traffic for most of the session and was lucky to be the last car to take the checkered when I was able to get a reasonably clean lap. This is one of those tracks where the lap times change dramatically between cool and hot, morning and afternoon, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow's morning and late-afternoon qualifying. I think we're in a good position to add to our win total this weekend."
Quebec racer Mikael Grenier, who turned the quickest time of 2:11.902 (87.163 mph) during yesterday's two 45-minuter 'promoter test sessions,' was second-quick today with a lap of 2:12.072 (97.038 mph) in his #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda. Rounding out the top-3 with a time that proved her position on yesterday's time sheet was no fluke was the Series' lone female racer, Tatiana Calderon of Bogota, Colombia. She turned a lap of 2:12.193 (96.949 mph) in the #25 Juncos Racing / JAC Motors Mazda.
"The Juncos Racing team has been very patient in bringing me along and letting me develop at my own pace," said the South American karting champion. "The two oval track races we ran earlier were a turning point for me because I went back and did a major workout program to bring my fitness up and the results are showing now. I can focus on my driving instead of how I feel. I'm strong, with a good team and I think this is my weekend to have a good result."
Setting the 4th-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 2:12.648 (96.617 mph) in his #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda. The 5th-fast driver was notable for the fact that, while he raced in the Star Mazda Championship in 2009 with his current team, it has been a year since he drove a Star Mazda, finishing 9th at Trois-Rivieres. Miami racer Sean Burstyn turned a lap of 2:12.701 (96.578 mph) in his #61 Juncos Racing / The Collection Mazda.
All of the quick times were set in the morning session as it began raining about ten minutes into the afternoon practice and continued throughout, finally clearing up in time for the checkered flag. All told, Juncos Racing had four cars in the top-8 (Daly, Calderon, Burstyn and Texan Rusty Mitchell in the #66 Juncos Racing / Motorola / Petro Communications / HRP Racing Products / Texas Autosports Mazda. Andersen Racing has two drivers in the top-8; Grenier and French racer Tristan Vautier (winner at Sebring and Race 2 / Round 7 at New Jersey Motorsports Park), 6th-fast with a lap of 2:12.764 (96.532 mph) in the #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda. JDC Motorsports, winner of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship (winner of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship with Englishman Adam Christodoulou) were in with De Phillippi.
The Star Mazda Championship also features a race-within-a-race for Expert (ages 30 -44) and Master (45 and older) Series drivers; company presidents and entrepreneurs in high-speed, wheel-to-wheel battles with top young drivers from around the world. As was the case yesterday, it was local racer Jeff Garibotti, a 50-year old racing enthusiast and soybean meal trader at the Chicago Board of Trade who turned the quick time of 2:17.056 (93.509 mph), 17th-fast overall in the 24-car field) in his #75 JDC Motorsports Mazda. Garibotti, a member of the Autobahn Country Club since its opening in 2004, is making his professional racing debut this weekend. The quickest Expert Series racer, Texan J.W. Roberts, only managed four laps in the morning and one in the afternoon, winding up with a 2:23.739 (89.162 mph) in his #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda.
Qualifying for Race 1 / Round 8 takes place Saturday, July 25 from 8:00 to 8:45 am, with the race scheduled to start at 1:05 pm. Following that will be qualifying for Race 2 / Round 9, from 6:35 pm to 7:20 pm. Its worth noting that this was the session in 2009 during which Peter Dempsey set his track record. The second of the weekend's two races begins at 1:00 pm, Sunday, July 26.