AWR tests three drivers at VIR

AWR Tests Three Drivers at VIR FAIRFIELD, N.J., Dec. 5 - Andersen Walko Racing continued its preparations for the 2006 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear by testing three drivers recently at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, ...

AWR Tests Three Drivers at VIR

FAIRFIELD, N.J., Dec. 5 - Andersen Walko Racing continued its preparations for the 2006 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear by testing three drivers recently at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.

Brad Jaeger of Cincinnati, who has already signed with the team for the 2006 season, participated in the test as did two other drivers: Gerardo Bonilla of Orlando, Fla., who won the 2005 Skip Barber Formula Dodge national championship presented by Racer, and Garrett Zine of Rio Linda, Calif., who finished sixth in the same series.

"The first day of the test was very wet, but the conditions were better on the second day," noted Richard Morgan, AWR's general manager.

The rain was actually welcomed by Jaeger, 20.

"The first day it was raining all day long, but that was something I wanted to work on," Jaeger explained. "I wanted to get a full day's test in the rain, because that will hopefully benefit us next year. I felt very comfortable in the car, and that was one of the biggest things we were working on. By Sebring I want to be perfectly comfortable in the car, no matter what the conditions are. That was my first time on the intermediate course at VIR, and we accomplished a lot."

"Brad did a great job on Monday in the rain; I don't think he put a wheel wrong all day," Morgan said.

Bonilla was participating in his second test with the team. "He shared a car with Brad on Tuesday, but he didn't get as much time as we wanted so he might test with us again soon," Morgan noted. (The team has another test coming right up Dec. 10-11 at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala.)

"The VIR test was my second with Andersen of the off season," said Bonilla, 30. "Easily my favorite characteristic of the team is its people. Dan, Richard, Glenn, Will and Tommy and the rest of the guys treated me with such respect and provided a fast Star Mazda car. How could I not enjoy the experience? We are continuing talks for 2006, but nothing is confirmed as of yet."

The third driver, Zine, was doing his first laps ever in a Star Mazda car.

"Zine had never run one of these cars before, but I thought he did very well in the rain early," Morgan noted of that 18-year-old. "He had a little incident early, but then after lunch he picked up his speed. Then we had an engine problem and he lost the rest of the session.

"The incident was minor; there was so much water on the track that he spun on the straight, but it just damaged the nose," Morgan added. "We didn't get as much time with him as we'd have liked either, so he may also test with us again soon."

"I don't know for sure, but I think I did about 30 laps," Zine said. "I liked the car; it's well built and it has a lot more horsepower than my Skip Barber car.

"It's a very nice team," Zine added. "Everyone was very helpful and they were all very nice. I got a good feeling from them. We're working on finding sponsorship money, and hopefully we'll find enough so we can do the series with them next year."

Andersen Walko Racing ended the 2005 season with 75 percent of its drivers in the top 10 and half of them in the top four. One of them, Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa., finished second in the overall point standings and earned the series' Rookie of the Year award. Pecorari; Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio, and Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile all won Star Mazda races last year under the AWR banner.

Drivers wishing to obtain more information may contact Dan Andersen at (973) 287-5600 or dandersen@andersenwalko.com for details on other upcoming tests and the team's 2006 program and budget. Additional information may be found on the team's Web site at andersenwalko.com. The team's offices and its new, larger shop are located in Fairfield, N.J.

The 12-race 2006 Star Mazda championship presented by Goodyear opens March 17-18 as part of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.

-linda mansfield-

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About this article
Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Graham Rahal , Skip Barber , Robbie Pecorari , Brad Jaeger , Pablo Donoso , Gerardo Bonilla