AIM Autosport's Star Mazda Championship team had a rough race at Mosport International Raceway on Aug. 25. After qualifying well and making smart weather strategy calls, both team drivers were caught by the timing of the race's only caution period. They each lost a lap to the leader, leaving them with eighth- and 12th-place finishes.
Natacha Gachnang of St-Gingolph, Switzerland, qualified the No. 35 Pro Formula Mazda sixth on the 22-car grid with a lap of one minute 16.497 seconds on the 2.459-mile Mosport road course in Bowmanville, Ont. Devin Cunningham of St-Bruno, Que., was right behind her, qualifying the No. 33 Discovery Channel Canada Mazda seventh in 1:16.718.
The drivers started the race on slick racing tires, but heavy rain forced them into the pits for rain tires early in the 46-minute race. Several competitors weren't as savvy, opting not to change tires. One spun off track, causing a full-course caution that allowed the rest to pit for rain tires and fine-tune their setup for wet conditions.
Back on track, Gachnang and Cunningham were slowed behind a driver who didn't stop for rain tires. As the caution started, their position relative to the safety car dropped them back a lap. Although Gachnang was faster than the leaders, she and Cunningham were unable to make up the lost-lap deficit. Gachnang finished eighth and Cunningham 12th.
AIM is now tied for fourth place in Star Mazda Championship standings, with two races remaining this season.
Natacha Gachnang: "After two race laps, it rained really hard so I came into the pits to change into wet tires. When I came back on the track, somebody was leading the race with slick tires and I was behind him. After that, it was full-course yellow, so I couldn't pass him and I went one lap back because of that. If I could have just passed this guy, it would have been really good, but I got back on track just behind him. It was frustrating."
Devin Cunningham: "To qualify seventh was fantastic. When it came to the race, it was just bad timing. It put us back one lap and there was just nothing we could do. All the guys who were on the podium had time to come in during the yellow flag and were able to change stock settings. We were stuck running rain tires on a dry setup car from one lap down. It was just an awful weekend and I can't wait to better myself in Road Atlanta."
Cunningham plans to practice for the Oct. 5 race at Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Ga., using computer race simulations. He'll also stay fit kayaking to maximize his track performance.