AWR hires Manfrinato, heads to Road Atlanta

Andersen Walko Racing Hires Manfrinato, Heads to Road Atlanta for Race Saturday FAIRFIELD, N.J., April 13 - Andersen Walko Racing (AWR) recently hired one of the most accomplished women engineers in motorsports, Rossella Manfrinato, to work on...

Andersen Walko Racing Hires Manfrinato, Heads to Road Atlanta for Race Saturday

FAIRFIELD, N.J., April 13 - Andersen Walko Racing (AWR) recently hired one of the most accomplished women engineers in motorsports, Rossella Manfrinato, to work on its four-car team that competes in the Star Mazda championship presented by Goodyear.

Her first race with AWR, widely considered to be one of the best formula-car teams in North America, will be this Saturday at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park in Braselton, Ga.

The race is a support event to the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race on Sunday.

Manfrinato will be responsible for the engineering duties on the car driven by Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Ill., the Star Mazda series' most improved driver of 2004. His teammates are Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa.; Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio and Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile, who are all rookies in the Star Mazda series.

Manfrinato, who worked as the technical support person and liaison engineer for Dallara in the Indy Racing League's Menards Infiniti Pro Series for the last two years, replaces Mark Glenwood, who had to resign due to scheduling conflicts. The lead mechanic for Klein's car is Scott Gates. The car, No. 26, is sponsored by Nexus Distribution Corp., Midwest Steel & Services, Ironclad Performance Wear and ProStar.

Manfrinato's technical expertise, her ability to interpret data and her skills in interacting with drivers and mechanics were instrumental to her being hired by AWR's co-owners, Dan Andersen and John Walko.

A native of Milan, Italy, she came to America seven years ago after receiving a degree in mechanical engineering in Italy in 1995. She helped establish Tatuus's Formula 2000 program in 1998, running a two-car works team, selling chassis, supplying customer support and arranging for the delivery of spare parts. Along the way she helped Ryan Hampton finish second in the F2000 pro national championship that year.

She has also worked on SCCA Club Racing teams, other F2000 concerns, Duncan Dayton's vintage racing team, and she helped Larry Connor win one of his SCCA Formula Atlantic championships. She has also been successful in endurance sports car racing, most notably with the SupportNet team, which qualified third for the 2000 Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the Intersport team when it won its class at Sebring in 2002.

Her most visible position in motorsports, however, was her job with Dallara. The Italian company builds all the chassis used in the Infiniti Pro Series and many used in the IRL IndyCar Series, and Manfrinato was instrumental in helping to get the Infiniti Pro Series off the ground and operating smoothly.

She has also driven race cars in the past, something she is very interested in pursuing. She tested an Infiniti Pro Series car for a team that was being organized by Katherine Nunn last year, but to date that group hasn't gotten off the drawing board due to a lack of sponsorship.

"I'm really looking forward to working with Andersen Walko," Manfrinato said. "It is a top-notch team, and everything is first-class. I have heard good things about Jonathan Klein too, so I'm excited about the opportunity."

Klein experienced engine problems at the season opener at Sebring last month, finishing ninth, and he's anxious to improve on that Saturday at Road Atlanta. Pecorari also had some issues with his car's engine at Sebring but he still finished sixth after running as high as fourth. Donoso started second and ran in that spot for several laps before he was involved in an accident. Rahal had the best results at the season opener, finishing third. He also won an SCCA national event at Road Atlanta on March 27, which was a great tune-up for Saturday's race.

After a promoter test day on Thursday, the weekend's schedule shows Star Mazda practice sessions at 8:40 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. on Friday. A 45-minute qualifying session will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday. The race, which will also be 45 minutes long, is slated to start at 12:40 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Later that night Klein will be a guest of the Speed Freaks on a TV show that was taped in the Star Mazda pits at Sebring. It will air on SPEED this Saturday night at midnight ET, 9 p.m. Pacific. The program will be replayed on Wednesday, April 20 at 8 a.m. ET, 5 a.m. Pacific.

TV viewers can see the Star Mazda season opener at Sebring on SPEED from 11 a.m. until noon Eastern time on Sunday, April 24. Saturday's Star Mazda race at Road Atlanta is scheduled to be aired on SPEED from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, May 29. Prior to that the third of 12 races will be held, however, as the series travels to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio for a race on Saturday, May 21.

Andersen Walko Racing's office is in Fairfield, N.J. and its shop is in North Versailles, Pa. For more information please see www.andersenwalko.com, www.starmazda.com, www.americanlemans.com and www.restartcommunications.com

-awr-

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Graham Rahal , Larry Connor , Ryan Hampton , Robbie Pecorari , Pablo Donoso , Rossella Manfrinato , Jonathan Klein