Trois-Rivieres pre-race notes

STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE GP3R Open-wheel racing's top young drivers bring the 2008 championship battle to the streets of Trois Rivières for the 30th annual GP3R August 12, 2008.- The Star Mazda Championship presented by...

STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE GP3R
Open-wheel racing's top young drivers bring the 2008 championship battle to the streets of Trois Rivières for the 30th annual GP3R

August 12, 2008.- The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear arrives at the 39h annual GP3R involved in one of the hottest championship battles in recent seasons, with four different winners in the first five races. The GP3R is the middle event in a three-race 'road trip' for the Star Mazda drivers with back-to-back weekends at Road America, Trois Rivières and Mosport. The drivers in this year's Star Mazda Championship are proof that diversity goes Zoom-Zoom. There are competitors from the Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, U.K., Ireland, Gibraltar, Poland and the Philippines. There are several fast young female drivers, drivers ranging in age from 16 to 64, a father/son team and a brother/sister team.

Drivers to watch include 2007 Skip Barber Pro Series champion Joel Miller, who won his ride in the #20 single seater courtesy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder. Miller won the 2008 Star Mazda Championship season-opener at Sebring and has scored three podium finishes. Returning champion and MAZDASPEED driver, Dane Cameron (#19) is also entered at the GP3R. Dane finished 2nd at GP3R last year.

Leading the Expert Series (30 - 44 years old) is Vancouver, B.C. native Chris Cumming (#16), with four class wins, and two top-10 finishes overall. Leading the Master Series (45 and older) is California racer Chuck Hulse, with three class wins and two podiums.

The other Canadian in the field is also from Vancouver, a young hotshoe named Taylor Hacquard (#15). He has scored one top-5 and three top-10 finishes and lies 9th in the championship.

Of the three Star Mazda female drivers this season, Kristy Kester (#48) is having the strongest showing. With an 8th-place finish in the season-opener at Sebring and a 4th in Portland, she is in the top-10 in the championship battle.

Other top racers to watch include Englishman Charles Hall (#77 Andersen Racing). Hall was on his way to a F1 career in Europe before a crash with a drunk driver cost him a year in the hospital and physical therapy. Alex Ardoin, (#51) won the 2007 round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, started from pole at Watkins Glen, finished on the podium twice and has two top-6 finishes.

Rounding out the top-5 are Billy Goshen (#82), who scored his first podium finish in Portland and is currently 4th in the standings and fifth place Tom Gladdis, with 182 points -- despite not being allowed to race at the Glen due to his age (17) -- is Portland Race 1 winner. Hailing from Gibraltar, Gladdis races the #5 machine.

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is now in its 18th year as one of the most prolific, successful and richest open-wheel driver development series in North America. The Star Mazda Championship the college basketball, the triple-A baseball, the Junior AAA hockey of auto racing, a high-speed training ground for future stars of the sport and a major step on the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder that reaches all the way from karting to the Atlantic series. All races are broadcast in a 1-hour show on the SPEED Channel. Prize money approaches $1.5 million, including a Mazda-sponsored drive for the Star Mazda series champion in the next step up the motorsports ladder, the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

-credit: tr/poleposition

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Skip Barber , Charles Hall , Dane Cameron , Chris Cumming , Alex Ardoin , Billy Goshen , Tom Gladdis , Chuck Hulse , Taylor Hacquard , Kristy Kester