TWO WINS FOR JDC IN STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON-OPENER Series rookie Christodoulou and Guasch lead Minnesota-based team to victory lane in Sebring MINNEAPOLIS, MN (March 20, 2009) -- For JDC MotorSports, the 2009 Star Mazda Championship ...
TWO WINS FOR JDC IN STAR MAZDA CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON-OPENER
Series rookie Christodoulou and Guasch lead Minnesota-based team to victory lane in Sebring
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (March 20, 2009) -- For JDC MotorSports, the 2009 Star Mazda Championship Presented by Mazda season-opener on March 20th marked the first step towards regaining the series title, which the team was awarded in '07. Racing at the historic Sebring International Raceway in Central Florida, the Minnesota-based team commenced their journey to achieving this goal in perfect fashion, as English rookie Adam Christodoulou captured the win while American Michael Guasch secured the Masters Series victory. Brazilian Caio Lara and American Joel Miller added to the team's strong outing, finishing fourth and fifth respectively, not far ahead of American Alex Ardoin in eighth. Team co-owner Gerry Kraut ended the day second in the Masters Series to cap a very successful trip to Florida.
Prior to the racing action getting underway, the team's Star Mazda drivers got the chance to work on finding the ideal car set-ups for the fast but bumpy Sebring road course via two promoters test days and a pair of practice sessions. Showing good speed around the 3.7-mile track right from the get go, Christodoulou, Miller, Ardoin and Lara were among the top-three throughout the three days prior to the race, repeatedly topping the charts. Not to be out done, Kraut and Guasch posted some fast times as well, leading the way among the Masters Series contingent.
Given the team's performances from earlier in the week, it came as no surprise that when the lone qualifying session got underway on Thursday afternoon (March 19), Christodoulou, Miller, Ardoin and Lara were all in contention for the pole position. The line-up was only decided when the checkered flag waved as Christodoulou secured a front-row starting position for his first-ever Star Mazda start with second fastest time of the session, piloting the No. 11 Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports entry. Right behind him on the time charts was Miller in the No. 2 Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports machine and Ardoin driving the No. 51 Oral & Facial Surgery Center/Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports car, as they locked up the second row on the grid. Lara was behind the wheel of the No. 19 Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports Star Mazda and was not much further back, turning seventh fastest time in the 45-minute session. Guasch and Kraut, having running similar times lap after lap in qualifying, ended one-two in the Masters Series, posting the 21st and 22nd quickest times overall.
Returning to their cockpits one day later, the JDC MotorSports' drivers lined-up for the first standing start of the 2009 campaign. Getting what initially looked like a superb launch from the line, Ardoin vaulted into the lead ahead of Christodoulou, with Lara and Miller slotting into the top-five. Unfortunately, within a lap, the black flag was being displayed to Ardoin for jumping the start. When Ardoin entered pit lane to serve his stop-and-go penalty, Christodoulou inherited the lead and from that point forward, the British rookie was the driver to beat.
Behind the eventual race winner, the action proved quite hectic for the rest of JDC drivers. Lara and Miller repeatedly diced for the final podium position, eventually being joined by series rookie Conor Daly. Ardoin had fallen back to the rear of the field due to his penalty, but a full course yellow allowed him to re-join the tail of the field and he quickly charged back to the front. Further down the order, Guasch, in the No. 91 Molecule/Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports entry, and Kraut, piloting No. 55 Dougherty & Co./Dougherty Funding LLC/Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports car, battled for Masters Series supremacy.
When the race ended in thrilling style following a late-race caution and an exciting restart, Christodoulou had captured the win in Round One of the Star Mazda Championship at Sebring, leading 18 of 20 laps in his inaugural series start. Lara crossed the stripe in third place and joined in the podium celebrations before being bumped back to fourth place in the final results due to a post-race penalty for an over-aggressive defense of his position on the final lap. Miller made it three JDC drivers among the top-five via a fifth place finish, while Ardoin completed a stunning recovery from his early race penalty, taking the checkered flag in eighth place. Providing the Minnesota-based team with two victories in the season-opener, Guasch captured the Masters Series win with an 18th place finish overall, followed by Kraut in 21st place, second in class.
"The team did an awesome job," stated Christodoulou. "Even though Richard (Kent) was on the pole, I seemed to get an extremely good start and passed him going into the first corner, but then I looked over and saw Alex [Ardoin] next to me and he led the first couple of laps, until he had a drive-through penalty and I got the lead of the race. Richard actually passed me on the final restart, but went a bit deep into corner 10 and I was able to get by and hold the lead for the rest of the race."
"To start the 2009 season with a pair of wins is great," stated Team Owner John Church. "The crew and drivers did a fantastic job all week long. The goal now is to continue our winning ways into Round Two."
The JDC MotorSports crew and drivers now have a month-long break, before returning to action on April 25th, with Round Two of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Mazda at Virginia International Raceway.