QUEBEC RACER MIKAEL GRENIER QUICKEST IN STAR MAZDA THURSDAY TESTING FOR THIS WEEKEND'S HARRAH'S AUTOBAHN GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY MAZDA Autobahn Country Club / Joliet, IL (July 29, 1010 ) -- Mikael Grenier, the quick Quebec driver who pilots the...
QUEBEC RACER MIKAEL GRENIER QUICKEST IN STAR MAZDA THURSDAY TESTING FOR THIS WEEKEND'S HARRAH'S AUTOBAHN GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY MAZDA
Autobahn Country Club / Joliet, IL (July 29, 1010 ) -- Mikael Grenier, the quick Quebec driver who pilots the #17 Andersen Racing / Slow Cow / April Super Flow / NAPA Auto Parts / HS Telecom / Desharnais Mazda set the quick time of today's two 45-minute promoter test sessions leading up to Rounds 8 & 9 of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at this weekend's HARRAH'S Autobahn Grand Prix presented by MAZDA. Set on lap 14 of the morning session, Grenier's lap of 2:11.902 (87.163 mph) around the 3.6-mile track at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL was the only lap in 'the 11s'; second-quick was championship points leader Conor Daly with a lap of 2:12.346 (96.837 mph) in the #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / The College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. Mazda.
Rounding out the top-3 was Frenchman Tristan Vautier, winner of Race 2 / Round 7 at New Jersey Motorsports Park on June 27, with a lap of 2:12.457 (96.756 mph) in his #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda. All three times were set in the morning session. The Star Mazda Championship lap record at Autobahn, 2:10.546, was set by Peter Dempsey, who won both races from the pole.
Fourth-quick on the day, setting his time on lap 14 of the afternoon session, was Californian Connor De Phillippi, the 2009 Skip Barber Pro Series champion and racing in the Star Mazda Championship this season via the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder scholarship. He turned a lap of 2:12.656 (96.611 mph, the fastest of the afternoon session) in his #11 JDC Motorsports / MAZDASPEED Motorsports / Skip Barber Mazda. Conor Daly was again second-quick in the afternoon session with a lap of 2:12.748 (96.544 mph), but providing an interesting surprise was the third-quick car in the session, the #25 Juncos Racing / Kia Motors Mazda, driven by the Series' lone female driver, Tatiana Calderon of Bogota, Colombia. A South American karting champions in her first season of North American open-wheel racing, she turned a lap of 2:13.045 (96.328 mph).
The Star Mazda Championship also features a race-within-a-race for Expert (ages 30 -44) and Master (45 and older) Series drivers; company presidents and entrepreneurs in high-speed, wheel-to-wheel battles with top young drivers from around the world. Interestingly enough, the quickest times among this group came in the afternoon session, and it was local racer Jeff Garibotti, a 50-year old racing enthusiast and soybean meal trader at the Chicago Board of Trade who turned the quick time of 2:16.633 (93.799 mph, 16th-fast overall in the 24-car field) in his #75 JDC Motorsports Mazda. Garibotti, a member of the Autobahn Country Club since its opening in 2004, is making his professional racing debut this weekend. The quickest Expert Series racer, Texan J.W. Roberts, turned a 17th-fast time of 2:17.097 (93.481 mph) in his #65 Team GDT / General Data Tech Mazda.
Official practice commences tomorrow with 45-minute sessions beginning at 10:45 am and 4:45 pm. Qualifying for Race 1 / Round 8 takes place Saturday, July 25 from 8:00 to 8:45 am, with the race scheduled to start at 1:05 pm. Following that will be qualifying for Race 2 / Round 9, from 6:35 pm to 7:20 pm. Its worth noting that this was the session in 2009 during which Peter Dempsey set his track record. The second of the weekend's two races begins at 1:00 pm, Sunday, July 26. J Fans can watch the weekend race action live on HDnet as drivers battle for the inaugural VISITFLORIDA Cup a 7-race championship-within-a-championship sponsored by Florida's official tourism corporation. The broadcasts, airing both Saturday, July 31 and Sunday August 1 from 1-4 pm Eastern (12 -3 pm Central), begin with a half-hour "Mazda Prerace Show presented by Visit Florida.com" from 12:30 -- 1:00 pm Eastern, followed by three hours of live racing (1-4 pm Eastern), including the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda and the Playboy MX-5 Cup. The two 45-minute Star Mazda Championship races are both scheduled to start at 3:00 pm Eastern.