Martin Scuncio Fastest in Friday Practice at Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Calderon Takes Third, Horto Rounds out Top-Five, Menezes Demonstrates His Potential
St. Petersburg, Fla. (March 25, 2011) - Martin Scuncio, driver of the #60 Juncos Racing Pro Formula Mazda, ended the day as the fastest overall driver with a best lap time of 1:11.413. The rookie stayed consistently in the top-five positions all day, but it was the final lap of the final practice session that gave him the top position and the honor of being the fastest driver of the first official practice day of the 2011 race season.
"Today went really well for me," said Scuncio. "I'm very happy with the car and the Juncos Racing team. We keep improving every session, and there is still room for more improvement. Being fastest today is awesome. I like this track a lot. It's a really difficult track because you have to be 100 percent focused, but that is what I like about it. I'm really looking forward to qualifying tomorrow morning."
Tatiana Calderon entered this weekend prepared and keen to outdo her result at St. Petersburg last season, and she did just that; the 18-year-old ended the day third quickest with a time of 1:11.761 after lying in second position for the majority of the session, triumphing far beyond anyone's expectations and successfully categorizing herself as a top competitor in 2011.
"I'm really happy with the way things went today," said Calderon. "(The track) is where you can see all the improvements made and experienced gained during the off-season. I'm also so happy with the way the team has been working and with the new system we have been trying. I really enjoy driving on this street course this year. I think my confidence is so much better than it was last year; I was really afraid of the walls before, but today it was like there were no more walls. That's probably the biggest improvement I've made. I'm really looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. Everyone's lap times are going to be pretty tight, so we'll see what happens."
With his third and fourth quickest times in the two practice sessions today, teammate J.V. Horto gave the Juncos Racing team three cars in the top-five fastest slots, and in the first session, those three cars were just hundredths of a second apart in lap times. Horto's favorable results come as no surprise to the team; he finished second to Juncos Racing's Conor Daly at the St. Petersburg race last season which was one of his best results of the year.
"Today was definitely very positive for me," said Horto. "I was third in the first practice session this morning, and now I'm still in the top-five positions at the end of the day and so is the team. That's what I am most happy about because now we can work together and help each other so that we can all aim to be at the top for qualifying and the race. (Tristan) Vautier has been very fast, too, but we still have some things we can work on to improve for tomorrow. St. Petersburg is one of my favorite tracks. I had a great result here last season, and I just love street courses. The city is so beautiful, too. I can't wait for tomorrow."
Today's practice sessions presented an extra challenge for rookie Gustavo Menezes; this is the accomplished go-karter's first season racing formula cars as well as his first experience racing on the Streets of St. Petersburg. The 16-year-old eagerly grabbed the challenge with both hands and didn't waiver outside of the top-ten positions once in this morning's first practice session. Though Menezes did not have the chance to break in his new, faster tires at the end of this afternoon's session, he still ended the day in a respectable 12th position with a best lap time of 1:13.325.
"Today was a good day for me and a good start for the season," said Menezes. "We still have a lot to work on, but we're getting a lot closer. I really like this track. You have to have a very high concentration level while driving, and it really gets you close to that limit. I think if you can learn how to drive well on a street circuit, you will be able to drive on a road course without any problems which is good for me being a rookie formula car driver. I'm learning a lot with every session, so I hope tomorrow goes well."
-source: juncos racing