Taylor Hacquard Takes on the Pros in the Star Mazda Series
First time pro racer 7th fastest in practice and 2nd quick in group 1 qualifier
Taylor Hacquard who came right out of kart racing this season showed glimmers of what he will be capable of when he enters a full season of professional car racing in 2008. The 17 year old Canadian was immediately into the top ten in practice, and went on to post the second fastest time in group one qualifying.
"Charles Anti who bumped Taylor from the top of the group one chart on the last lap has been consistently in the top ten on the time charts in the 2007 series, so we felt that this was a good indication that we were making progress," stated WSM Operations Manager Mark Milazzo. "Taylor has been working with us and his Standing Start coaches for the past few months and he is really improving rapidly."
Group one qualifying was in wet conditions which was unfortunate for the drivers relegated to this group. When the second group got out on a dry track the lap times really dropped, and Dane Cameron the 2007 series champion set a new track record. "There was nothing the series could do as the conditions changed, and while it really hurt our starting position we were at the event to get Taylor acclimated to the series which he did in stellar fashion," stated Taylor's coach Grant Ryley.
Starting 20th from a field of 36 drivers Taylor got a great start, moving up to 12th and looking to move up even further when some incidental contact with another car clipped and cut the valve stem on the right front ending his day. "We learned a lot, and I have a new respect for the kind of competition this series draws," stated Hacquard. "We are planning to race in the Star Mazda Winter Series, and do additional testing before the Sebring opener. I am looking forward to doing the entire series in '08 and will use this first year to learn the tracks and gel with my team just as Scott Bradley and Ace Carrio did before me." Bradley and Carrio both did a 'learning season' before clinching the championship in their sophomore seasons.
Next up for Hacquard is the Standing Start Driver Development Day on Nov 14th which will lead him right into race one of the Star Mazda Winter Series at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on Nov 17th.