Round Five - Star Mazda Series PALMER BATTLES ON AT MID-OHIO IN US MAZDA SERIES Australian racer Darren Palmer finished a disappionting seventh position in round five of the Star Mazda Series at the weekend, after struggling with little track...
Round Five - Star Mazda Series
PALMER BATTLES ON AT MID-OHIO IN US MAZDA SERIES
Australian racer Darren Palmer finished a disappionting seventh position in round five of the Star Mazda Series at the weekend, after struggling with little track time to learn the demanding CART Championship track, Mid-Ohio.
"This track was very difficult to learn. It has fast corners, slow corners, off camber corners, blind corners, even fast off camber blind corners,” Palmer said.
"I think the whole complex is fantastic, and even though I'm disappointed with the result, I really enjoyed myself. We just have to re group and hope for a better finish next wekend".
When Palmer phoned team manager Mike Karmody on Thursday night to confirm his weekend schedule, he was surprised to learn the track had been privately booked and that the only time he would have on the circuit would be a 25 minute session prior to the 20 minute qualifying.
"When Mike told me, at first I thought he was kidding, but Mike is not much of a joker, and it didn't take long for me to work out he was serious. Annoyed is an understatement," Palmer said
After only 25 minutes to learn the circuit and adjust the car, Palmer qualified 16th in a 18 car field. With his average qualifying position this year being much higher than that, he was concerned that with his little experience of the track it was one more thing to be worried about.
Being a rolling start from the rear of the field, on a foreign track, he didn't know what to expect.
"If I had had some experience in karts than maybe I would have been a little more comfortable, but being so far back I was concerned about the cars around me as well as not having a great knowledge of the track. As it turned out it was good fun, and given this year is a year for learning, it was a positive thing".
His start was safe, and he made up 5 places on the first two laps, and after winning a 6 lap battle with series regular Ken DeNault, Palmer took himself into a points position.
"After I got past Ken, I was a little happier as I knew I would leave with some points. Maybe I passed the next few because I was more relaxed as I knew I had points weather I passed them or not".
On the final 4 laps he passed 3 cars to finish 7th and was becoming much more comfortable with his surroundings. With the Valvoline run-offs at Mid-Ohio later in the year, Palmer is hoping to continue improving at the rate he did throughout the race.
"My times were coming down every lap, and considering I was actually dicing on those laps, it is a good sign."
At the time of writing the points could not be confirmed, due to a protest between the three drivers who finished on the podium.
Although if Marty Hahnfeild holds onto his 3rd position, and Palmer stays 7th, the points at the top of the table will be close, and approaching the mid way mark of the series, none of the drivers can afford any more mistakes.
The next round will have the competitors travel to Watkin's Glen which, for Darren, will be as tough a test as his weekend at Mid-Ohio as he has not raced on the circuit before.
"I have to be honest and say that I haven't even seen a map of the circuit before, but it would have to be very difficult to match this track as far as being a technically difficult circuit".