JDC MOTORSPORTS EXITS USF2000 SEASON-OPENER WITH VALUABLE POINTS
All three rookie racers earned top-10s in their series debut
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (March 30, 2010) -- JDC MotorSports showed its championship potential during the season-opening doubleheader of the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda this weekend (March 27), with top-10 finishes by all-three of its drivers on the demanding St. Petersburg street circuit. Colombian Martin Sala led the way in Round One with a fifth place result, one better than Brazilian Raphael Abbate. Russian Mikhail Goikhberg led the trio in Round Two with a seventh place result, bettering his eighth place run in race one, while his teammates finished 11th and 13th in the second race of the weekend.
The on-track action for the revitalized USF2000 National Championship commenced on Friday (March 26), with two timed practice sessions on the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg, Fl., street circuit. While the primary goal for all three JDC MotorSports drivers during the sessions was to learn the track and begin developing car setups, the trio turned some very quick laps. Sala challenged for top honors in the opening morning session, turning the second quickest time in his No. 19 Gulf/Aero Gal/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports entry. Not to be out done, Abbate repeated the feat in the afternoon run, going second fastest in his No. 11 Alphacolor/Avery Denison/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports steed. Goikhberg meanwhile constantly got quicker throughout both sessions, never falling outside the top-10.
When the lone qualifying session got underway on Saturday morning, the stage was set for all three JDC racers to challenge for a front-row starting position. It was not to be however. While both Sala and Goikhberg enjoyed clean runs, neither was able to find the desired speed on the bumpy street circuit, ending the session fifth and eight quickest on the time charts. Abbate meanwhile never got up to speed, as a faulty Engine ECU prevented him from turning a flying lap, relegating the Brazilian rookie to the rear of the field via a back-up car.
Getting the green flag for Round One only a few hours later, all three JDC MotorSports drivers managed to avoid the expected first turn chaos. For Sala and Goikhberg this resulted in race-long battles for position within the top-five and just outside of the top-five respectively. Not far behind, Abbate was a driver on the move. Turning laps on par with the lead pack, the 18 year-old rapidly worked his way into the top-10, before challenging for a top-five result in the closing stages of the 20-lap race. When the checkered flag did fly, the JDC trio had all earned valuable points in their series debut, with Sala finishing fifth, Abbate sixth and Goikhberg eighth.
Returning to the Florida street circuit one day later, the USF2000 field lined-up under overcast skies for Round Two based on fast times from race one of the doubleheader. As a result, Sala got the green flag in row three, with both his teammates right behind in row four. Much like the season-opening race one day earlier, the first turn proved eventful. Unfortunately this time two of the JDC drivers were involved in the fracas, with both Sala and Abbate damaging their cars. While Abbate was able to continue racing, albeit less effectively, Sala's run came to end a few corners later when he impacted one of the retaining walls as a direct result of the first turn contact.
Ahead of the duo, Goikhberg set about challenging for positions in his No. 10 Chetverg/Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports car. In a repeat of race one, the 22 year-old diced all the way to the stripe, eventually taking home a solid seventh place result. Forced to pit due to the damage from his early race incident, Abbate was classified a disappointing 11th in the final results.
The JDC MotorSports crew and drivers will now have a lengthy break, before returning to action on May 29th, when Round Three of the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered Mazda takes place at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis as part the famed Night Before the 500 event. Prior to the race weekend, the team will take part in an official test at the Indiana oval on May 5-6.