Pre-season news 2008-01-29

STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY GOODYEAR NEWS AND NOTES -- Jan. 29 1) Star Mazda driver graduates to IMSA Lites for 2008 2) Skip Barber National Champion Joel Miller signs with JDC Motorsports 3) Brother/Sister team will compete under...

STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY GOODYEAR NEWS AND NOTES -- Jan. 29

1) Star Mazda driver graduates to IMSA Lites for 2008

2) Skip Barber National Champion Joel Miller signs with JDC Motorsports

3) Brother/Sister team will compete under Kester Racing banner

4) Andersen Racing will run Yannick Hofman and Juliana Gonzalez

5) John Walko Racing tests rising female star Julia Landauer

1) Star Mazda Championship graduate Jonathan Goring, of Norfolk, Connecticut, has announced his plans for the upcoming 2008 racing season. Following his successful rookie season in Star Mazda series, the 18 year-old driver will compete in the full twelve-race 2008 IMSA Lites series with Athens, Georgia based Comprent Motor Sports.

Despite his young age, Jonathan is already becoming a familiar face on the racing circuit. In addition to driving the full Star Mazda season, winning the Cleveland race as well as achieving several other podium finishes around the US and Canada in 2007, he is the 2006 Skip Barber National Champion with plenty of wins in that series.

After such good results in 2007, Jonathan is looking forward to the new season starting in March with a new car and new team. He described his decision as a "tough one, given all of the opportunities. I wanted to broaden my experience and develop my talent beyond open wheel racing. Kevin has given me the chance to bring home a championship in 2008 in IMSA Lites and that is exactly what I'm going to try my best to do." Sebring in March will be the first event where Goring and the Comprent team will be taking up that challenge.

Following the upcoming IMSA-Lites tests at Sebring at the end of this month, Jonathan will stay at Sebring for the Karting Shootout out the following week in his role as a Skip Barber Instructor and driving coach. In addition to racing and working for Skip Barber, Jonathan has also started college, after graduating a year early from high school this summer, where he and his race car were the centerfold of the yearbook.

The legendary Comprent team fabricates and prepares race cars for multiple venues, and has enjoyed countless successes in open-wheel, prototype, and GT classes, from its inception in 1988 to the present day. Comprent Motor Sports is affiliated with the Elan Motorsports Technologies as the IMSA Lites customer service representative.

Kevin Kloepfer, team owner, welcomes a driver of Jonathan's considerable talents to add to his successful effort. "We're delighted to have Jonathan join us for 2008. We watched him improve over the season in Star Mazda and believe the time is right for him to step into the Elan DP02 and try his hand at prototype racing."

2) 2007 Star Mazda championship winners JDC MotorSports has announced that, thanks to funding from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder, 2007 Skip Barber National champion Joel Miller will contest the entire 12-race 2008 Star Mazda schedule. Miller joins the JDC MotorSports squad having recently completed a successful test with the team at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California. Working with newly re-signed race engineer Rick Cameron, Miller will be part of a multi-car team, partnering with returning driver Nick Haye and Master Series racers Gerry Kraut and Chuck Hulse. Miller, 19, becomes the third consecutive Skip Barber National champion to enter the Star Mazda Championship, following in the footsteps of Gerardo Bonilla and Jonathan Goring. The personable pilot will be seeking to follow in the tire tracks of 2007 Star Mazda Champion Dane Cameron and provide JDC with its second consecutive, driver, team and rookie championship titles.

"I'm looking forward to racing with JDC in the Star Mazda Championship," stated Miller. "I've known John for a while and after working with Rick in testing, it was an easy decision picking JDC as the team I would drive for next year. I can't thank Mazda enough for this opportunity. Now I can't wait to get back behind the wheel and begin working towards what I hope will be another championship-winning season."

A native of Hesperia, Calif., Miller enters the Star Mazda Championship having already established himself as a winner. First getting behind the wheel via local kart racing, Miller quickly became not only one of the leading karters in the region, but in all of North America. This culminated in 2006, when he captured the Star of Karting Intercontinental A national championship. Prior to winning this prestigious title, he had already made his car racing debut. As part of PR1 Motorsports driver development program, he extensively tested a Formula Ford in 2003. The following year, he entered and won his first pro race in the Pacific F2000 Series. With limited financial backing, he raced only a limited number of Skip Barber races in 2005 and 2006, winning in his National series debut. He ran the Skip Barber National Series full-time in 2007, capturing the series title with a series-high five wins. Miller also traveled to England and competed in the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy as a Team USA Scholarship winner.

3) For the first time ever the Star Mazda Series will have a brother-sister team competing in the upcoming 2008 season. Kester racing will be the newest team to join the competitive field of the Star Mazda Series. Jeff (J.C.) Kester, a 21 year old senior Mechanical Engineering major at Texas A&M will be the only driver in the field to be racing alongside his sister Kristy Kester, a 19 year old sophomore Biomedical Science major at Texas A&M. This one of a kind team is unique in how it gives aspiring mechanical engineering students at Texas A&M the chance to work on a race team and gain knowledge that will further them in their future careers.

A small town west Texan, Kristy has proven herself at many levels. She raced karts for 6 years and recently raced one of the newer Mazda series Formula Enterprise where she did outstanding receiving 3 poles, 2 wins, 3 fastest laps, and finishing in the top three in all but four races in the season. J.C. is already a tried and true open wheel racer. He not only excelled thru his karting career but won two "Duffy" awards, the most prestigious award given in the International Kart Federation (IKF), giving him two national titles and securing the "Expert Shifter Driver" classification. In his first year to compete against his sister in the Formula Enterprise series, J.C. racked up a total of seven wins, two poles, and many top five finishes.

J.C. and Kristy will begin an intense schedule of testing under the watchful eye of Kester Racing driver coach Davy Jones, a 24-hours of Le Mans and 24 hours of Daytona winner. For more information, visit the team web site at www.kesterracing.com

4) Andersen Racing has announced the signing of Quebec racer Yannick Hofman and Mexico City resident Juliana Gonzales to run the full 2008 season. Hoffman, a 19 year-old from Montreal comes to the Star Mazda Championship from the Formula BMW USA Series, where he finished seventh in 2007. He also ran two Star Mazda races with Andersen (which is the development team of Rahal Letterman Racing) in 2007 in preparation for a run at the series' 2008 Rookie of the Year award. He had immediate success, recording a top-five finish in Andersen Racing's Jig-A-Loo No. 00 at Trois-Rivieres in his native Quebec.

"I was impressed with the team at Andersen Racing, and how professional everyone is in the crew," said Hofman. "The Star Mazda single-seater is fun to drive considering the extra power I had, but taming the car and the tires was much easier with the help of my engineer and the mechanics. No wonder they have always put their cars at the top of the charts. I'm really excited and happy to be with them for a full season."

16-year-old Juliana Gonzales, a native of Columbia, now lives in Mexico City. She competed in six of 12 U.S. F2000 Championship Series races with Andersen Racing in 2007; her best showing came in Round 4 at Road Atlanta in May, where she started and finished second. She competed in the full FF2000 series in 2006, finishing 10th in the national championship. She was the national champion in the 80cc shifter kart class in 2005, scored eight wins and nine poles in ten Super Karts Cup races and has also raced Formula Renault 1600, scoring one victory, one pole and four podium finishes in eight races.

"I'm very excited to be with Andersen Racing again for the 2008 season," Gonzalez said. "I feel really happy to have the chance to work with this top team. Having Mike Reggio as engineer is going to be interesting, because we had really good communication during the test and we were able to get up to speed fast. I'm sure we will be a great engineer-driver duo. I feel comfortable in advancing to the Star Mazda series next year," she said. "I know we have to work hard and learn, but I know we have the tools to fight at the front of the grid."

5) Off-season testing programs often involve new drivers but John Walko Racing recently concluded a day of testing involving a different element than is typically found in these scenarios. Karting sensation Julia Landauer was behind the wheel with JWR Data Acquisition Specialist Kate Gundlach engineering the effort, marking a debut of sorts for both women.

While this was her first full fledged test in the Star Mazda cars, Landauer brings a long history of racing and winning to the team. The sixteen year-old scored numerous wins and championships in karting on the regional and national level. In 2006 Julia reeled off twelve wins, nine poles and a championship in the Skip Barber Eastern Regional Series in her first full season in cars. A Formula BMW scholarship advanced Julia to the next level in 2007 where she scored three top ten finishes as the youngest driver in the series and the youngest female ever to compete in Formula BMW.

"I was impressed with how they both did. Obviously with Kate being on board with the team for some time now, we were 100% confident that she would be well prepared and focused on our goals for the day. We've known Julia as well through her karting exploits and anticipated that she would quickly adapt to the program," said team owner John Walko. "Julia was the professional racer we expected. She was very mature both on and off the track, made very smart decisions and provided excellent feedback. It was just a really solid drive. Kate also was impressive. The transition from collecting and analyzing data to making the decisions based on the collected data and feedback from the driver was seamless. The two worked together incredibly well. Given the opportunity to develop as a team; they have a lot of potential."

-credit: starmazda

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Skip Barber , Davy Jones , Yannick Hofman , Gerardo Bonilla , Dane Cameron , Jonathan Goring , Nick Haye , Julia Landauer , Chuck Hulse , Gerry Kraut , Joel Miller , Kristy Kester