JDC MOTORSPORTS STARTS STAR MAZDA SEASON OFF WITH PODIUM FINISH IN ST. PETERSBURG
Vautier led talented four-car line-up with third place finish in Round One on Florida street circuit
MINNEAPOLIS, MN. (March 30, 2011) – JDC MotorSports commenced its pursuit of the 2011 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear title in fine fashion on Saturday (March 26), with a podium finish, two top-fives and all four cars in the top-10 in Round One on the streets of St. Petersburg, FL. Tristan Vautier led the charge for the Minnesota-based team, finishing third in the incident-filled season-opener, just ahead of Chris Miller in fifth, Nick Mancuso in seventh and Richard Heistand in ninth.
JDC MotorSports, having led the way in official pre-season testing (going quickest in all but one of five sessions), entered the 2011 season-opener in western Florida confident it could challenge for top honors. That belief appeared well justified right away, as Vautier posted the fastest time in the opening Friday morning practice run in his No. 5 Cecibon/Circuit du Laquais/Fontanels/Red Line Oil JDC MotorSports entry. With Heistand, Mancuso and Miller also cracking the top-10 in the two practice runs, the squad was headed in the right direction.
When the lone qualifying session got underway early Saturday morning, the goal for all four JDC racers was to get the most from themselves and their cars via one mistake-free fast lap. While things didn’t workout exactly as planned, with all four drivers unable to get the flying lap they desired, the JDC contingent were still positioned to showcase their skills and earn valuable points come race time.
As expected the season-opening street race proved to be a chaotic affair. While multiple racers ran a foul via contact, the JDC MotorSports racers showed tremendous racecraft, making the most of every opportunity to move forward. Vautier in the end advanced from fifth on the grid to third place, earning a podium finish in his first race with the two-time series champions. Miller, piloting the No. 85 Miller Milling/Red Line Oil JDC Motorsports entry, followed suit, working his way from ninth at the start to fifth at the checkered flag. Not to be out done Star Mazda rookies Mancuso (No. 27 Jimmy John’s Sandwiches/Indeck/Lake Forest Sportscars/Red Line Oil JDC MotorSports) and Heistand (No. 39 Masney Auto Transportation/Red Line Oil JDC MotorSports) both avoided multiple incidents to finish seventh and ninth, having started 12th and 11th respectively.
“We got a solid result to the start of the championship,” stated Vautier. “Of course, after the official tests at Barber and starting the weekend P1 in first practice, I would not lie in saying I'm not bitter! But after the small issues we got in qualifying and starting fifth on the grid, I knew winning this one was going to be tough, and I think we need to be happy about taking a podium finish. There are 10 rounds remaining in the championship, and I really look forward to the rest of the season with the JDC guys. I want to give a big thank you to them for their hard work, as well as to all my partners, ABK Sports Management, and the series' partners.”
“Wow, what a race!” stated Mancuso, who was making his formula car racing debut. “It truly was a street fight in the No. 27 Jimmy John's/INDECK car. This was my first open-wheel race so I am very happy to have moved up from 12th on the grid to finish seventh. It's truly a testament to JDC and my chief mechanic Dave Hoppel. At one point, I was completely run over by another car and he flew over the top of me so I am glad just to have finished at all, let alone in the top-10. I can't wait to be back in the car for the Grand Prix of Alabama!”
The JDC MotorSports Star Mazda drivers return action on April 10, with Round Two of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at Barber Motorsports Park. Vautier enters the IZOD IndyCar Series event third in the title fight, while JDC MotorSports currently sits second in the team standings.
-source: jdc motorsports