When David Ostella headed to Sebring International Raceway for the first event of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship he'd had just one test session in a Star Mazda race car. After four days at the track and with the field headed to qualifying - he'd...
When David Ostella headed to Sebring International Raceway for the first event of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship he'd had just one test session in a Star Mazda race car. After four days at the track and with the field headed to qualifying - he'd had just one additional session in a Star Mazda race car! Such was the adventure the young Canadian from Maple, Ontario, endured at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring recently.
"I was a little upset and nervous since qualifying was going to be my third session on track," he said in recalling his trials, "but the AIM Autosport team got everything together and we pulled it off in qualifying to be in the top 15." From there came flashes of brilliance when Ostella charged through the field, but first, the road to the grid.
The Star Mazda field had a pair of sessions on Monday but Ostella was on the sidelines during both. In the first, gearbox problems led him right back to the pitlane after one lap, and when the AIM Autosport team went to work preparing for the afternoon run a car fire brought an end to the day. Tuesday at Sebring brought the same schedule, and the seventeen-year-old finally turned his first laps of the week in the morning. Things looked promising as Ostella timed eighth in the field of twenty-eight, but trouble returned in the afternoon when gearbox issues led to problems in the cockpit during downshift. Ostella put in laps nonetheless, and once again timed eighth best.
Wednesday brought the first Official Session of the Star Mazda season and unfortunately Ostella was once again relegated to pitlane after just one lap as his car was stuck in second gear. The session was lost, which meant the day was lost with it being the only session on the schedule for Star Mazda. Thursday morning brought another, but once again Ostella was sidelined with gearbox issues and did not post a time. From the six scheduled, he had been able to participate fully in just one, two days earlier, and now the field was headed to the aforementioned qualifying session where Ostella posted P15. It lead to the inside of row eight, and both team and driver were hopeful headed to race action.
"I had an amazing standing start and was doing great," Ostella said of the early race action, and as always, he left things a little understated. After already taking two spots from his grid position and the start/finish line, he then grabbed three more over the first lap to cross eighth through one. He took another on lap two, and another pair on three to sit fifth through three of twenty race laps. He then held station through five, and had a fantastic first quarter under his belt when his fortunes once again turned downward.
"I was up to fifth with my engineer Keith Willis on the radio helping me out," Ostella recalled of his first race action of the season. "Then on lap seven the front sway bar broke and it led to a spin in turn 17. The vacuum hose came off, and from that point forward I just had no power. I just cruised around to the finish. I have to thank everyone under the AIM Autosport tent for their hard work and tireless effort leading up to the race though," he concluded. "We were dealt a difficult hand in Sebring, yet with little amount of time on the track we were up in the front of the field. I also have to thank my sponsors Global Precast for their endless support, along with RAW Integrated Ltd. and Alpinestars. If every team is going to have one trying weekend, we can now head to Virginia and the rest of the schedule knowing ours is out of the way!"
The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will contest race two at Virginia International Raceway on April 26th.