VW Jetta: Series mid-season review

2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Mid-Season Review Veteran Sierra Lendle Leads the Pack Heading Into Round Six of Ten Events HERNDON, Va. (July 12, 2010) -- The first half of the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup season is in the books and with...

2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Mid-Season Review

Veteran Sierra Lendle Leads the Pack Heading Into Round Six of Ten Events

HERNDON, Va. (July 12, 2010) -- The first half of the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup season is in the books and with four different race winners in five events, the competition could not be more fierce. Just 28 points separate the top-five drivers and with 60 points available for each win, it's anybody's guess who will be hoisting the Championship trophy come September.

One of the overwhelming favorites to take the crown has to be current points leader, Juan Pablo Sierra Lendle (with 158 points). The Puebla, Mexico resident started out the season with three consecutive podium appearances when he finished second in the pair of opening races at VIRginia International Raceway and earned a victory in Round Three at New Jersey Motorsports Park. In the first five events of the 2010 season, Sierra Lendle has earned five top-ten finishes, three top-three finishes and has led a Series-high 34 laps out of a total of 80 laps run (43%). Needless to say, if he can maintain results like this, he's going to be very difficult to catch in the latter half of the 2010 season.

"I had an excellent start to the season with two second-place finishes and then the win in New Jersey," said Sierra Lendle. "The victory was my first in the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, which was wonderful to finally be able to earn. I continued to lead the Championship after the fourth and fifth races, even though I struggled a bit on the track (Sierra Lendle finished seventh in Utah and tenth at Mid-Ohio). The important thing was that I finished cleanly and continued to add important points towards the Championship. The points battle has gotten very close and the rookies are pushing just as hard as the other veterans. In the second half of the season, I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing. I know the next five races will be challenging, but I feel I have the experience, the speed and the ability to win the Championship. I can't wait to get to Autobahn at the end of the month. Last year I had a disappointing race in Joliet, but I've been training very hard in the gym, as well as on the simulator. I think I'm in a great place both physically and mentally, so I'm really excited to start the second half of the year. I know with some smart, clean racing I can continue to lead the points and hopefully earn my first Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Championship."

Another strong contender to claim the Series title is rookie phenom Arie Ouimet, who is currently in second place in the 2010 Championship point standings, just six points out of first. The Plymouth, Mass. native took a couple of races to get up to speed, but since then he's earned three top-five finishes including second-place results at two of the last three events. In addition, he's earned five top-ten finishes, led 12 of 80 laps (15%) and is the only rookie to have won a pole in the first half of the 2010 season (Ouimet claimed the pole at the last Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup event three weeks ago at Mid-Ohio).

"I'm very happy with how the season has gone thus far," said Ouimet. "The first few races of the year were a bit difficult, but in the last three events I've been able to run well. I'm also beginning to understand the car more and more as the season progresses. In the second half of the year, I'm looking to finish on the podium in each event -- I feel that is not only a realistic goal, but it will keep me right in the Championship hunt as well. Thus far, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup has proven to be a great opportunity for me. Not only have I learned a ton on the racetrack, but I've learned a lot off of it as well. The entire Volkswagen team has helped to teach us the things we need to know in order to pursue a career in motorsports. I think working with everyone at the Series will prove to be highly beneficial as I look to next year and beyond."

Aside from Sierra Lendle and Ouimet, there are three other drivers who are within immediate striking distance of the Championship points lead: Series veterans Jake Thompson (136 points) and JD Mobley (133 points) as well as rookie Wyatt Gooden (130 points). Each member of this trio has earned at least two podium appearances to date; Thompson also earned a victory in Utah and Gooden captured his first checkered flag three weeks ago at Mid-Ohio. The final five races should be quite exciting, as these talented drivers battle it out until the final lap of the season.

"I'm very impressed by the rookies in this year's Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup," said Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Chief Instructor, Jan Heylen. "Our Series veterans are quite good and for some of the rookies to come in with no experience in the Series, and some of them with only karting experience, and qualify and finish in front of the guys who've raced the Jetta TDI Cup cars before really speaks to the level of talent we have this year. What I'm really happy about is the fact that the rookies are showing why they were picked to compete this season. As a Series, I think we have learned a lot in our first two and a half years; and that combined with this year's crop of drivers has really led to a great year; we've seen nothing but clean, hard racing. I think another important thing is that we've seen progress throughout the entire field. In the first two races, the field was a little spread out, which was disappointing -- but in the last three events, the field has been a lot closer. We're starting to see marked improvement in every single driver and I think the second half of the year will only be more exciting."

The Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup heads to Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill. to compete in Round Six of the 2010 season on Sunday, August 1st.

Series Alumni Continue to Make Progress

While the 25 current Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup drivers are still learning the ropes of professional auto racing, there are two Series alumni who have taken what the Series has taught them and moved on to make waves in other forms of motorsports.

Timmy Megenbier, the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Champion, is competing in Germany's Scirocco R-Cup, where he currently sits in ninth place in the Championship point standings. Megenbier is the first American to compete in a full-year of the German Series. At the last event two weeks ago, Megenbier started 17th and finished 14th in Round Three at Norisring.

The 2010 season marks the debut of Germany's Scirocco R-Cup, the most eco-friendly, one-make cup series in the world. Volkswagen thus assumes a pioneering role yet again among the worldwide one-make cups with the Scirocco R-Cup. 80 per cent less CO2 emissions, thanks to bio-CNG (compressed natural gas) power, as well as "push to pass" technology, make the series one of the most exciting to watch.

In addition to Megenbier's post-Jetta TDI Cup success, the 2008 Series Champion, Josh Hurley, is also making a name for himself, but here in America. Hurley is currently competing in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, where he runs in the Street Tuner Class, which features imports and compact cars. In the seven races run to date, Hurley has finished in the top-five in his class in five events; and he currently sits in eighth place in the Championship point standings.

-source: www.vwmotorsportusa.com

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Jan Heylen , Josh Hurley , Juan Pablo Sierra Lendle , Wyatt Gooden , Jake Thompson