CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING STAR MAZDA TEAM RAMPS UP AN EXPANDED EFFORT FOR 2011
Working to expand while maintaining its championship-caliber balance of talent and muscle, Team GDT hires a top engineer and opens discussions with uniquely-motivated young drivers
Dallas, TX / Jan. 25, 2011 -- Looking to expand its championship-winning ways from the Expert and Master Series to compete for the overall 2011 series championship in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, Dallas-based Team GDT has announced the addition of top engineer Eric Purcell to the team's roster of talent for the upcoming season.
Purcell, who engineered John Edward's Star Mazda Championship-winning car for AIM Autosport in 2008, is an MIT-trained engineer with more than thirty years of experience in Europe and the U.S. as a driver, engineer and team manager. His experience includes road courses, street circuits and ovals, as well as such series as Formula BMW, Formula Atlantic and Indy Lights. He also had a major role in the early development of the Formula Mazda series.
"Team GDT has really stepped up their game for 2011 and I'm excited to be a part of it," says Purcell. "J.W. Roberts, who is both the owner of the team and one of the drivers, has provided the resources for us to really put forward a significant effort for the coming season, and that's just what this team needed to take them to the next level. They won both the Expert and Master championships in 2010, as well as the overall victory at Trois-Rivieres with Alex Ardoin in the car, so they're extremely competitive at every event, and I think the caliber of young drivers we're talking to about expanding the team is indicative of that. It's also a very well-rounded program with Chuck West, whom I've been friends with for twenty years, on board as both driver coach and nutritionist/lifestyle consultant. Team GDT aims to be competitive for both the Expert Series and the overall championship in 2011, and I think they have most of the pieces in place to achieve that goal."
In 2010, Team GDT drivers captured two championships within the Star Mazda Championship; the Expert Series for drivers aged 30-44 and Master Series for drivers 45 and older. Team owner/driver J.W. Roberts won the Expert title, driving his #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda to a total of nine in-class victories. Roberts (left) also won the BBS 'Hard Charger Award" which is presented to the driver who gains the most places in total from the beginning to end of all the races during the season. Carlos Conde (right), a former semi-pro polo player and investment banker who splits his time between New York and his home country of Puerto Rico, won the [IMAGE]Master Series with six in-class wins racing the #31 Team GDT / Pronto-GMT / Olympus Securities Mazda.
In addition, the team served notice of their increasing competitiveness in the GP3R at Trois-Rivieres when they put Team GDT driver coach Alex Ardoin (right) -- also the 2009 GP3R winner -- in the team's spare car for the race. Starting from the outside of the second row, he won the race, completing a unique 'tri-fecta' for the team, which also included in-class wins for Roberts in the Expert Series and Conde in the Master Series. Both Roberts and Conde will return to compete in the 2011 Star Mazda Championship, racing in the new Expert Series for all drivers 30 and older.
"That was a pivotal moment for Team GDT when it became clear to us that we had group of people all of whom were championship-caliber, ' says Roberts. "It persuaded us to do what we needed to do to take the team to the next level and compete for the overall championship in 2011. Adding Eric Purcell, an immensely talented and experienced engineer was a major step. Next comes finding a pair of young drivers who share our philosophy that a championship isn't just strapping yourself into the car and driving the wheels off; it's something you build from a combination of commitment, teamwork, education and lifestyle. We're already talking to one rising star who fits these requirements, and are interested in finding one more truly committed young champion to complete the four-car team we plan to field this season."
Adding to the championship mix at Team GDT for 2011 will be experienced team manager Paul Mata and driver coach and nutrition/lifestyle consultant Chuck West, a championship-winning open-wheel driver -- in[IMAGE]cluding the 1992 Star Mazda Championship -- and the original founder of the championship-winning Worldspeed Motorsports team. West's 'whole life' approach to driver training, which includes everything from fitness and nutrition to lifestyle, is credited by current team drivers Roberts and Conde with being a major factor in their 2010 championship campaigns. In addition to Mata and West, racer and driver coach Alex Ardoin will continue to work with the team as liaison with the new young drivers Team GDT plans to run in 2011.
"This is a really unique and focused team with a specific philosophy, a clearly-defined goal and the resources to reach that goal," says Mata. "This is not a write a check and show up with your helmet operation; we've talked to a number of young drivers who have tremendous skills but not the work ethic and willingness to learn that we're looking for. Our 2011 program will provide a tremendous opportunity for two young drivers who are fast and fierce, but also 'teachable.'"
-source: team gdt