Sage Karam scores his first Star Mazda street circuit win, and his second win of the season in the #88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda.
Sunday's Star Mazda Race 2 at the 43rd annual GP3R looked for all the world like another Hawksworth runaway - start from the pole, TR Race 2 Podium build up a 10-second lead by the mid-point of the race... but then, for the second weekend in a row, the rain came - a full five minutes worth - mid-way into the race and changed everything. As a result, scoring his first Star Mazda street circuit win, and his second win of the season, was Sage Karam in the #88 Andretti Autosport / Comfort Revolution Mazda. Following him across the finish line was Gabby Chaves in the #19 JDC Motorsports / CLARO / Marca Colombia / Tecpro Mazda and Alex Ardoin in the #51 Team GDT Mazda.
Hawksworth, the championship points leader and winner of yesterday's Race 1 from the pole, was leading after the entire field pitted under a red flag on Lap 24 to change to wet tires, but, under attack by Karam after the re-start, overestimated the amount of grip available and slid under braking into the tire barriers in Turn 6 with three minutes to go. He limped his nose-less and suspension-bent #82 Team Pelfrey / TORGOEN Swiss Watches / EXA Networks Mazda around for the rest of the lap to finish12th. The Quebec driver in the field, Jerimy Daniel, continued his run of home-town bad luck with a14th-place finish, two laps down in his #10 The Racing Company / FixAuto / Sherwin-Williams Mazda.
"This is my first-ever Star Mazda win on anything but an oval, and I'm very excited to have it happen here on this very technical track, in the rain and in front of all the great Trois-Rivieres fans," says Karam, the 2010 USF200 champion now in his second season of Star Mazda. "When the first couple of drops hit my visor I was hoping for it to actually rain hard enough that they would force us to come in and change tires. I knew that was my best hope of catching Jack, who had a big lead in the dry. As soon as the green came out for the final wet laps Jack and I had a great battle for a few laps and then he slid off into the tires. After that for me is was just a question of not making a mistake."
Petri Suvanto, the Finnish racer who won the 2011 USF2000 Championship and is racing Race 2 Finish photo in Star Mazda this season with scholarship funding from the Mazda Road to Indy, started on the outside of the front row next to his Pelfrey teammate Hawksworth. In the first turn, however, Karam and Chaves dive-bombed him on the inside and dropped him to 4th before the race was two turns old. Then he had to battle the rest of the race with Ardoin, who is a two time winner of this event in 2009 and 2010, and finally finished 4th in his #81 Team Pelfrey / Mazda Road to Indy Mazda.
Among the fine drives of the race was one by Andres Mendez, who started 15th on the grid and battled his way up to finish 7th, and another by Ryan Tveter, who was left standing on the starting grid yesterday by a broken axle - the second time this has happened this season. He shrugged off the miss fortune and raced his way up from last in the field to finish10th.
Returning to his run of hard luck after a good finish of 3rd in Race 1 on Saturday was Connor De Phillippi. A two race winner and early leader in the championship, he has seen his points lead melt away amid a series of poor finishes that are more a reflection of his luck than his talent. Starting 7th today in the #2 Juncos Racing / ModSpace Racing / One24 Mazda, he knocked his front wing askew early in the race and had to pit for a new nose. When all was said and done, he finished 13th.
In terms of Championship points, Hawksworth remains well in the lead with 286, followed by Sage Karam with 245, Gabby Chaves with 238, Connor De Phillippi with 212 and Martin Scuncio with 202.
Star Mazda on-track action at the GP3R at Trois-Rivières continues with Sunday's Race 2, featuring the series' spectacular F1-style standing start scheduled for 11:00 am on Sunday, August 5. The grid will be determined by the fastest lap turned by each car in Race 1, which means Hawksworth will start from the pole and will be joined on the front row by his Team Pelfrey teammate, Petri Suvanto.
Star Mazda Championship cars all carry two Replay XD1080 cameras to provide exciting driver POV footage for races that are part of the Mazda Motorsports Hour broadcast tape-delayed on Discovery's Velocity Channel in the U.S. and globally on ESPN International. In the U.S., the race will air on Velocity at 12 Noon, Saturday, September
Source: Star Mazda Championship