ADDING A SEAT ON THE MOVE UP - Edwards and Chistodoulou Reflect on Rolex Grand-Am GT Rookie Year - September 10, 2010 (Tooele, UT). A caution flag can destroy the perfect pit strategy at the wrong time. Sudden rain, or rain stopping, can leave...
ADDING A SEAT ON THE MOVE UP
- Edwards and Chistodoulou Reflect on Rolex Grand-Am GT Rookie Year -
September 10, 2010 (Tooele, UT). A caution flag can destroy the perfect pit strategy at the wrong time. Sudden rain, or rain stopping, can leave one with the wrong chassis set-up. There will always be outside factors beyond the control of a driver or team. Often those factors are financial in nature. The great drivers and teams succeed by finding and creating opportunities wherever they occur.
When the Atlantic Championship went on hiatus for 2010, it created a challenge for Mazda with their established MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder. Adam Christodoulou, the 2009 Star Mazda Champion, had been poised to race in Atlantics in 2010. Rather than leaving him hanging, Mazda stepped up with SpeedSource to add an additional RX-8 for the Rolex Grand-Am GT Championship. To further cement the Mazda commitment to their ladder, Adam was teamed up with 2008 Star Mazda/2009 Atlantic Champion John Edwards.
Neither Christodoulou nor Edwards had any prior sports car experience, both having risen from karts through a variety of single seat open wheel classes. Both were in for a year of rapid education with impressive results. Their season began in Florida at the Homestead race where the duo started third and finished ninth. In ten races the team has scored one win (Lime Rock), a pair of seconds and finished in the top-ten, in nine of ten races. With one race remaining they are sixth in driver points and third among all rookies.
Between practice sessions at Miller Motorsports Park the drivers remarked on their season to date.
Adam Christodoulou - "Racing this year with Mazda in Grand Am has been a huge step forward in my racing career. Not only has it supported me this year, but also opened many doors for my career going forward. It is a driver's dream to be taken under the wing by a manufacturer, and this year I've been lucky enough to have that opportunity, whilst being able to try something new; moving into sports car racing."
"This was my first year racing in such a Sports car championship; a championship which combines the best of endurance racing with a grid packed with different manufacturers and regulations. I've been able to make a quick transaction from single seater cars to GT cars, and it has allowed me to improve my skills, consistency, fitness and mental-attitude, whilst also assisting the team with the development of the car."
"It's been an honour to have John Edwards as my team mate, and privilege to have the full backing of the SpeedSource team. During this year, the team has been able to utilize John and my single seater experiences, and quickly transform us into Sports car drivers. At first it was strange sharing a car and it appeared to have one or two disadvantages, but we took to it quickly, and soon saw that there are more than enough benefits to make up for our initial concerns. Now, as a driver pair, we analyze our data together, compare notes, decide strategy, feedback to the team, and work together with the chief engineer on how to improve the car."
"My debut in American racing was last year. Every track I drove upon was a completely new experience. This year wasn't much different, except for the inclusion of a number of impressive and world-famous venues; Daytona, Watkins Glen and Montreal to name but a few. It was fantastic to experience the huge numbers of race fans that flock to these events. I also had the opportunity to watch NASCAR live for the first time, which provided me with great satisfaction as it exceeded all my expectations."
"The length of Grand Am races range from two to 24 hours. Moving into sports cars with Mazda has given me excellent opportunities to test, race and live the sports car experience. Now that I have made my first steps into this category, I am left in no doubt exactly what type of racing I want to be doing."
"Before you start anything new, it's impossible to know exactly what you will get out of it. I didn't realize how close and exciting the racing would be, and I have enjoyed earning the respect and confidence of other teams. I know that going forward and with the experience I have gained, I'm going to be able to be even more competitive in the fight for wins and championships."
"This year I missed out on the excitement of the Daytona 24, but being a member of the best team, driving in the best car, and a promising and well-earned championship position in 2010 - I plan to race with SpeedSource and Mazda again next year, and aim to take the Grand-Am Championship in 2011."
John Edwards - "Racing in Grand-Am has been a greater learning experience than I ever imagined. It has refined my racecraft, developed me as a racing driver, and advanced my career."
"The opportunity to work with a factory team like Mazda in a multiple car team cannot be understated. Whether I ultimately race Prototypes, GT, Indycar, NASCAR, or Formula 1, this year's experience in the Mazda GT car has been an extremely valuable opportunity and investment in my continuing development as a racing driver."
"The transition from an exclusively open-wheel background can be difficult, but it is well worth the challenge. I believe it extremely valuable for young drivers to drive GT cars early in their career, as it provides much more opportunity for the future."
John Doonan, MAZDASPEED Motorsports Team Development Manager wrapped it up noting, "The global economy over the past two years has impacted everyone, especially motorsports. We have seen many teams and multiple series disappear. The smartest people have focused on making certain that racing provides a measurable return on investment for the companies writing the checks to support the sport."
"Our goal at Mazda remains to be the most supportive car company on the grassroots roadracing level and helping drivers move up. While we call it a ladder, it more closely resembles scaffolding that needs to be moved and adjusted on an ongoing basis. Since we launched the ladder in 2006, we have promoted, with Mazda funding, 18 drivers to the next level."
"That next level has been adjusted with the changing motorsports landscape, but any driver who wins a spec Mazda series will be rewarded with a Mazda powered ride in a higher level series. In the case of Star Mazda, the champion now earns a Grand-Am GT ride, and Adam and John are proof that this is a successful opportunity."