THE OXYMORON OF HEAT -- CHRISTODOULOU FASTEST IN PRACTICE 2 FOR THIS WEEKEND'S ROUND THREE OF THE STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK As he has done in the majority of the pre-race practice sessions so far this season, English...
THE OXYMORON OF HEAT -- CHRISTODOULOU FASTEST IN PRACTICE 2 FOR THIS WEEKEND'S ROUND THREE OF THE STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK
As he has done in the majority of the pre-race practice sessions so far this season, English racer Adam Christodoulou set the fastest time in the second Thursday practice session for this weekend's Round Three of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship this weekend at Miller Motorsports Park. The oxymoron of heat, however, dictated that, while the warmer temperatures of the afternoon session increased grip levels on the track, it also slowed the cars down in acceleration and top-speed.Christodoulou's lap of 1:44.861 (104.641 mph) in the #11 JDC Motorsports Mazda was the fastest of the session, but just a few ticks slower that Alex Ardoin's 1:44.642 (104.860) in the cool of the morning. And both are still well shy of the record, 1:43.650, set in 2008 by John Edwards (who went on to win the race from the pole and win the championship).
"The track is definitely up in temperature, so there's more grip, but it also slowed the cars down in a straight line so that was against us on times a little bit," said Christodoulou, winner of Round One at Sebring.J"This morning went well, but we had a starter problem so the team had to split the car between sessions to get at the flywheel and get the problem sorted out, but we were half a second quicker in the afternoon so we're definitely going the right direction. The two things we're all struggling with is the amount of sun here makes it difficult to pick your braking points; there aren't a lot of markers available, so you have to get that sorted. And the track is good, it's very smooth and flows well, but as soon as someone goes off there's a huge cloud of dust that makes it impossible to see."
The heat, however, seemed to affect Ardoin even more adversely, with his best time in the #51 JDC Motorsports / Oral & Facial Surgery Center Mazda dropping to a 1:45.254 (104.251 mph). Conor Daly improved from 8th to 3rd in the afternoon, going from a 1:46.921 (102.625 mph) lap to a 1:45.514 (103.994) in the #22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda.
Among the other drivers figuring in the tight battle for top-5 in the championship, Joel Miller, driving the #2 JDC Motorsports / Fader Higher Productions / Mockett / Burns Truck & Trailer Mazda, went from third fast in the morning to fourth in the afternoon, even though his time of 1:45.916 (103.599 mph) was several tenths quicker. And Irishman Peter Dempsey, winner of Round Two at Virginia International Raceway, has yet to show his real speed in the #3 AIM Autosport / Motorsport Ireland / Queyside.ie Mazda, turning the 7th-fast lap in the morning and dropping to 12th in the afternoon.
As a result of their finishes in Rounds One and Two, Christodoulou and Dempsey are tied in the championship battle with 74 points, while Miller and Daly are tied for second at 69 points. The Star Mazda Championship awards 44 points for a win, so all four, as well as a number of others, are still in the hunt.
A pair of official 45-minute practice sessions will take place on Friday, May 15 at 8:45 am and 1:00 pm. Qualifying to set the grid for the Star Mazda Championship's spectacular, F1-style standing start takes place from 8:35 am - 9:20 am Saturday, May 16, with the 45-minute Round 3 of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at Miller Motorsports Park during the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix Presented by the Grand & Little America Hotels scheduled to get the green light at 6:05 pm Saturday afternoon.