FRENCH RACER TRISTAN VAUTIER SHOWS EARLY STRENGTH WITH FASTEST TIME IN DAYS 1 & 2 OF THREE-DAY STAR MAZDA TEST AT INDYCAR SPRING TRAINING
Barber Motorsports Park / Birmingham, AL / March 15, 2011 – After an all-night rainstorm that thoroughly scoured the 17-turn, 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park track, it was again French racer Tristan Vautier who set the pace in Day 2 of Star Mazda Championship testing at IndyCar 'spring training,' - first on the wet track of the morning session and later on the dry and fast track that saw lap times dropping like a stone throughout the rest of the day.
His 120.397 (102.989 mph) lap in the #5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda came on the 10th of 13 laps turned in the 30-minute final session. This is the first time the Star Mazda Championship cars have visited Barber Motorsports Park and his time represents an unofficial lap record – unofficial since in Star Mazda lap records can only be set in qualifying or the race. It is, however, a useful indicator, and a target for other drivers to shoot at in Wednesday's final 1-hour session… and during the race on the April 10.
In the wet morning session, Vautier turned a 1:27.969 (94.124 mph) in his #5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda vs. a quick time of 1:20.831 (102.436 mph) in the yesterday's morning session. In the wet, Sage Karam was second-quick with a lap of 1:29.093 (92.937 mph) in the #88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda, followed by Nick Mancuso at 1:29.527 992.476 mph) in the #27 JDC Motorsports / Indeck / Lake Forest Sportscars / F.A.S.T. Race Products. Mancuso provided something of a surprise since, although he has substantial experience in sports cars and sedans, this is his first go at open-wheel racing.
The original schedule for Day 2 called for two sessions, one morning and one afternoon. However a sudden, unexplained schedule change split the single afternoon session into two and drivers and teams were only alerted 15 minutes before the start of the second session, newly scheduled to run from 10:30 to 11:15 am. Several teams were already deep into dismantling their cars and were unable to make the session, while others quickly buttoned their cars up, pried their drivers away from their cell phones and sent them out for truncated, impromptu session.
Once again Vautier (right) was quickest with a lap of 1:21.000 (102.222 mph), followed by Sage Karam at 1:21.406 (101.712 mph) and Martin Scuncio – who was actually quickest in the second, slower afternoon session on Day 1. The young Chilean racer turned a 1:21.745 (101.291 mph) in the #60 Juncos Racing / Fuerza Chile Mazda. Holding his place near the sharp end of the field as he had done in every previous session was Brazilian second-year Star Mazda racer Joao Victor Horto with a 1:21.851 (101.159 mph) in the #18 Juncos Racing / Programa Leilões Mazda.
And in the final session of the day, the quickest so far of the test, it was Vautier setting the pace, followed by Martin Scuncio at 1:21.364 (101.765) on lap 12, his last of the session. In third was Horto with a 1:21.555 (101.527 mph) on lap 8 and showing some strength after languishing in the bottom-half of the top-10 on Monday was St. Petersburg, FL college student Nick Andries with a 1:21.974 (101.008 mph) in his #81 Team Pelfrey Mazda. Team Pelfrey, based in Clearwater, FL, was a competitive IndyCar team during 1998-2001 and noted for giving their 'big break' to many young drivers; team owner Dale Pelfrey has revived the team as a 2-car Star Mazda effort for the 2011 season.
Also flexing his muscles in the final session was second-year Star Mazda racer Chris Miller, who rounded out the top-5 with a 1:22.128 (100.818 mph) in his #85 JDC Motorsports / Miller Milling / Red Line Oil Mazda. Less than two second separated the top-8 runners during the final session, with positions 5-8 separated by less than half a second.